Guillermo Del Toro Begs Fans To See Nightmare Alley's Black & White Cut

Nightmare Alley director, Guillermo del Toro, has begged fans to watch the black and white version of the movie. Nightmare Alley is the latest project from the writer-director of Academy Award-winning The Shape of Water, but was released on December 17 to an unfortunate flop at the box office. It collected only $3 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend despite a budget of $60 million; the most amount of money Searchlight Pictures has spent on a feature.

The neo-noir psychological thriller is the second silver screen adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham's novel of the same same. The first was Edmund Goulding's 1947 version starring Tyrone Power, and is now widely considered to be a classic of the film noir genre. Del Toro's reimagining of Nightmare Alley boasts a star-studded cast, including Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Rooney Mara, and Ron Perlman. At its helm is Bradley Cooper as the charismatic Stanton Carlisle, a down-on-his-luck con man who builds a career grifting the wealthy elite of 1940s New York City.

Related: Nightmare Alley Proves The Greatest Showman Got It Wrong

In an interview with Collider, Guillermo del Toro spoke at length about the movie, including what the 3-hour 19-minute cut looked like. As well as this, the director detailed the work done with cinematographer Dan Laustsen, a long-time collaborator, on the movie's visual style. This involved lighting the movie as though it were in black and white, befitting the film noir heritage it shares with the 1947 version. With this, del Toro urged fans to see Nightmare Alley in all of its monochromatic glory:

Well, one of the things that... When the movie is available for home, one of the things that I beg people if they can do it, is to watch the movie in black and white. Because what we did is, we used very traditional cross lighting, so the movie is lit like a black and white movie. It was art directed with a lot of reds and greens and gold, which gives you all the mid tones in the gray. So it was almost like a black and white movie, that was done in color. Like a serigraph. Imagine that you're printing the ink layer, that's the black and white, and then you print the color layer, that's the movie that you saw.

Despite positive reviews, Nightmare Alley hasn't garnered the commercial praise befitting a director of del Toro's caliber. The director is known for marrying genre-bending stories, normally resigned to film festivals, with box office success and widespread appeal. The Shape of Water was a perfect example. One the one hand, the romantic fantasy centered on the sweet-but-odd love between a human woman and a humanoid amphibian, and managed to gross almost $200 million worldwide alongside awards for Best Director and Best Picture, among others, at the 90th Academy Awards. Del Toro similarly wanted the movie to be filmed in black and white, but ultimately failed to convince the studio.

Viewers would therefore be remiss not to see the black and white version of Nightmare Alley. As commenters constantly ponder the future of auteur directors like Guillermo del Toro, Martin Scorsese and Alfonso Cuarón in a cinematic landscape saturated by blockbusters, there's the fear that fewer releases will survive the multi-million-dollar investments required to justify a theatrical release. Luckily, Searchlight recently confirmed that Nightmare Alley will return in January 2022 for a limited run in select Los Angeles theaters of the black and white version.

More: Nightmare Alley Ending Explained

Source: Collider

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