There is a place in my heart for Black and White photography. But black and white, as beautiful and nuanced as it can be - is a world onto itself. Color, to me, is much more versatile and when used correctly, a much more evocative tool.
Take for instance, the 1999 film, The Matrix - directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski.
Notice the subtle use of color as a visual cue for the location. When Neo and Morpheous talk inside the Matrix - there’s a sickly green cast to everything - reminiscent of those old green monochrome computer monitors that folks of a certain age are familiar with. When out of the Matrix, the colors are more natural.
Compare that to this opening scene from Sam Mendes’ American Beauty also from 1999.
Mendes relies very much on a strong Red White and Blue color palette to underline the idealised facade of Lester Burnham’s suburban family. Even the folders Lester drops in this opening scene are Blue and Red - a deliberate continuation of the chromatic theme.
Compare those bold primary color scheme to the earthy tones of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 film Amelie.
Jeunet uses a rich warm palette of Greens, yellows and reds - a signature color palette of his that gives his films a sort of grotesque yet magical warmth to them. Blue is used sparingingly, and when it is it’s a bold contrast to the established earthy tones.
These three films, coming out just a few years apart, represent just a small part of of the creative use of color filmmakers employed coming out of the 1990s and into the new millennium.