When I first sat down and thought about colour movies I wanted to strip to black and white, a lot of high drama came to mind. Besides my starting point of CHILDREN OF MEN, I had thoughts of THERE WILL BE BLOOD, WINTER’S BONE, and other such gritty tales.

Then along came Rachel West, and her suggestion that I consider NAPOLEON DYNAMITE.


Putting aside the fact that I hadn’t thought twice about NAPOLEON DYNAMITE since October of 2004…sometime around the point it got “Gawsh!’d” into the ground by too many movie quoters…the film itself isn’t the sort of thing I’d thought about from a visual perspective.

Well funny thing there, because for a film that’s already pretty absurd, taking away its colour – as Rachel suggested – makes it all the more absurd.
See? Already, you think to yourself “some weird shit goes on in that house…”

You just know all three of these assholes voted for Trump.

Is it just me, or does Kip really suit the black and white aesthetic? Look at the way those aviators catch the light!

Okay, here’s where we miss the colour palette. Rex’s dojo has more flags than a Fourth of July parade, but without all that red, white, and blue in the frame, the image actually feels less absurd…not more.

Another moment where we miss the colour palette? Any scene involving Deb. She always seems to brighten up the shot…perhaps because she seems like the most honest soul in this whole weird world where everybody is hustling.

Somehow in black and white she seems a bit edgier.

Lynchian, no?

Very Lynchian.

Uncle Rico’s field almost looks like an Ansel Adams photo!

Whether it’s in colour or black and white, heartbreak is still heartbreak.

Yep…”that’s the one”.

…first there was the Ansel Adams moment, now Dorothea Lange! Likewise, this shot in black and white reminds me of what Alexander Payne would do in NEBRASKA.

Re-watching this movie for this post, I was reminded of just how ugly it all looks. Every scene is washed-out, high key, and filled with the gross shades of a town time has forgot. Stripping away that grimy colour palette actually makes this story feel like more of an escape.

Sorta feels like a scene from A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT.

Napoleon’s ginger hair adds a lot to this film’s weirdness and innocence. Stripping that away does take away a certain something.

I could see this shot as part of a Talking Heads video. Must be the light suit on Pedro.

Trust me – this shot is every bit as weird in colour.

I feel like Napoleon just watched a movie by Nacho Vigalondo.

High props to Rachel – this was the shot she dropped to black and white to point out how absurd this movie would seem. One glance and I knew she was absolutely right.

Last week I mentioned that the caveat to all of this is how the original film isn’t lit for black and white, so my conversions take a certain degree of liberty from the director’s original intent.

With NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, this is especially true since the original captures were so flat tonally. Most of these screen caps come with some tweaking to the curves.


Summer’s crew are one of the most mainstream things in this town: the popular girls dressing in the cooler clothes and hanging out with their jock of choice. Strangely, taking the colour out of the shot makes them all seem so strange…like cookie cutter copies of each other, without personalities of their own.

Napoleon, meanwhile, remains one of a kind; a distinct silhouette that stands out from a great distance.

Very very Lynchian.

Such a sweet final shot, no?


…and there we have it! Any requests for the next entry?