Director Guillermo del Toro is bringing audiences back to the age of classic films with a special re-release of his newest film, Nightmare Alley. Announced by Searchlight Pictures, the alternate version of the film will be presented in black-and-white, mimicking the tone of horror and film noir classics, and will be released under the title Nightmare Alley: Vision in Darkness and Light, with a limited theatrical run beginning in January 2022.
The neo-noir thriller initially premiered at Alice Tully Hall on December 1st, and released nationwide on December 17th. Taking place in 1940s New York, Nightmare Alley centers around Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), a down-on-his-luck carnival worker who begins learning mentalism — a type of trick magic — using this newly acquired knowledge to scam the wealthy patrons. The film is an adaption of the 1946 novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, which was previously adapted into a black-and-white film in 1947.
“Although we shot ‘Nightmare Alley’ in color, we lit it as if it were black and white,” said del Toro in an interview with Indiewire. “You can see exactly the same level of design, and we wanted to give viewers this special vantage as a take of the classic noir genre that the film is part of.” Nightmare Alley is not the first of recent films to be re-released with a new color palette. In January of 2020, director Bong Joon Ho also re-released his Oscar-winning film Parasite in black-and-white as an homage to classic films.
“When we designed and shot we were always thinking color and black & white,” said Dan Laustsen, Director of Photography for Nightmare Alley. “The classic lighting I have used is an homage to all the incredible masters of cinematography who have inspired me.”
Del Toro added:
“It’s not a movie where you turn the color off. The movie is almost like a serigraph in black and white that then has another layer of color. If you saw the movie in black and white, it’s not like you just turned the color off. It looks exactly like a movie from the 1940s in a way that is astounding.”
Nightmare Alley: Vision in Darkness and Light’s theatrical run will take place in Los Angeles, California at the following theaters: The New Beverly Cinema on January 15 and January 16, AMC’s The Grove from January 14 through January 20, The Landmark from Jan 14 through January 20, and The Los Feliz Theater, American Cinematheque, from January 21 through January 23. The standard color version of Nightmare Alley is playing in theaters everywhere now.