Nebraska was one of my favorite films last year, and one of the reasons is the striking black-and-white cinematography. Aside from it just being straight-up gorgeous, it also helps put us in the mindset of a part of the country’s that been left behind. It’s a colorless world, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. However, some people can’t stand black-and-white movies, and those people apparently live overseas, so director Alexander Payne was obligated to make a color version that he thought would only be seen in small markets like Moldova, Sierra Leone and Laos. He thought wrong, and was surprised as anyone to find out that the color version will be airing in the U.S. on Sunday.
Hit the jump for more.
Thompson on Hollywood discovered that the premium channel Epix is airing TV spots with the following copy:
“Nominated for six Academy awards, including Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Cinematography, experience Alexander Payne’s masterful black and white vision, and for the first time, Epix brings you the full color version for a limited time showing. See Nebraska in two totally different states. Sunday at 8 p.m., followed by the world premiere of the color version, exclusively on Epix. We get big movies.”
Co-producer Albert Berger told TOH that he didn’t know Epix was going to air the color version, and neither did Payne. In fact, “their contract with Paramount — which financed and released the film — precluded most major showings, including theatrical and DVD/Blu-Ray – from being anything other than the black-and-white original version.”
Berger also notes that even though this color version was only supposed to be shown to smaller foreign markets, Payne “did personally supervise the post-production of the color version despite hoping it never would be seen.” The sets, costumes, etc. were designed with black-and-white cinematography in mind. Payne’s post-production for a color version meant the film had to be reprocessed digitally to make it look better than if it had been untouched (to be clear: this isn’t the same thing as the awful “colorized” version Ted Turner and others have attempted to do with older movies). I have to give the director credit for taking the time to make sure the color version looked its best even though he never wanted people to look at that version.
Nebraska is a movie filled with wonderful performances, an insightful script, and a lot of heart. I can’t help but wonder how all of that comes through when put through a color prism. If anyone watches the version that airs on Epix, let us know.