If at the beginning of a film we read the words "based on a true story”, we may harbour suspicions that the tale bears absolutely no relation to the truth. And though the - still unsolved - 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short (alias the Black Dahlia) truly is part of America's darker history, Brian De Palma's film thoroughly re-tailors the facts, already reinterpreted by James Ellroy in the novel from which the film draws. (The poor victim would not recognise herself.) Vilmos Zsigmond needed to... solve a highly complex task in shooting the film, which falls into the neo-noir genre, evoking the film noir genre characteristic of the 1940s and 1950s. Films noirs were shot in black and white, however. Moreover, they cared little for reality, and more with moral motivations, sexual intrigues and the passions lurking in the corners of the soul.
Nevertheless, The Black Dahlia sometimes hints at a reality prowling beneath the surface story, and manages to evoke the age of black-and-white images and black-and-white films. In other words, the spectacle is in colour while simultaneously remaining a little in black and white, or at least suggestive of this style. The images shift in a monochrome direction. This is not to say that they are shot in black and white, but rather that in each scene everything is adjusted to a determinant basic colour. This is sometimes greyish, sometimes a little faded by the sun, and sometimes recalling the sepia world of old photographs. Sometimes the picture assumes a darker hue. This film will stay in the memory not because of the detective story, but for its atmosphere. One would search in vain for a happy ending to a crime story that remained unresolved. But the visual world constructed by Zsigmond is something we could marvel at for days.
The series is made possible with the support of the Hungarian National Film Fund.
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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