The Mist, 2007 by Frank Darabont

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Listen to our full discussion of The Mist on my podcast, I Like To Movie Movie.

It finally happened. I finally got to see the black and white cut of The Mist. And for once something lived up to all the hype I inflicted upon it.

Rather than take this time to dissect this movie on a thematic level (you can listen to us do that on my podcast) I’d just like to write about the thrill of finally seeing the black and white version of this. I read an interview with Darabont regarding his desire to make a 50’s monster movie and shoot it in black and white around the time of The Mist‘s release. And he made it a point to say that while he was ultimately not allowed to make the black and white film he wanted to make, he specifically shot it so that it could later be released in black and white and would look as he originally intended. I remember being so excited about that idea, and fascinated that you could shoot something “for black and white” even though you were shooting and releasing it in color.

It kind of didn’t make sense to me, I thought the movie would look weird in color if it was shot for black and white. But The Mist didn’t. Which made me think it might then look weird in black and white. In particular, you light things differently for black and white and I just couldn’t fathom how you could simply desaturate a film shot in color and get the intended shadows and washed out whites just right.

But holy shit does thing look like it was only ever intended to be displayed this way. It’s an incredible black and white film. He gets so much right – the contrasts, the extreme close ups, the dramatic character work. Seeing The Mist in black and white, suddenly all of the choices that don’t quite feel right when you see it in color are making perfect sense. The creatures look a bit more like puppet effects, the acting feels more like a tonal choice, the fades to black feel like reel changeovers. And when you see that first tentacle sequence in the loading docks, you really feel like you’re watching something from a different era.

I was impressed by this movie on a whole new level. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it in color again. This is just so clearly the way this movie was meant to be seen.

Also one last quick note about the filmmaking – Darabont captures true chaos on film in a way no other filmmaker can. There are sequences in this where I was genuinely afraid for the characters because the situation seemed genuinely dangerous on a visceral level. And some of those sequences have no monsters in them. They’re just depictions of human chaos that feel truly real. Few filmmakers can accomplish that in my opinion.

The Mist scored ★★★★☆

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