Is 'Ripley' All In Black And White And What's The Reason?

8 April 2024, 17:22

Ripley on Netflix is in black ad white
Ripley on Netflix is in black and white. Picture: Netflix

By Kathryn Knight

New TV series Ripley is Netflix’s latest hit, but is every episode in black and white? And why?

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Ripley, starring Andrew Scott, Dakota Fanning and Eliot Sumner, is TV lovers’ new obsession after it landed on Netflix, but there’s a drastic change in its aesthetic compared to other recent TV successes – it’s in black and white.

As viewers begin the series and re-familiarise themselves with the crimes and extravagant tales of Tom Ripley, people want to know ‘is it all in black and white’, and 'why is it in black and white?'

There’s a very good reason that Ripley is in black and white that feels very GCSE media studies to be discussing, but read on to find out why it actually makes such a difference.

Andrew Scott plays Tom Ripley in the new Netflix series
Andrew Scott plays Tom Ripley in the new Netflix series. Picture: Netflix

Is Ripley all black and white?

Yes, all eight episodes of Ripley are in black and white, something rarely seen in modern TV series. So don’t expect the scenes to suddenly burst into technicolour at a pivotal point in the story.

The TV series is based on the best-selling book by Patricia Highsmith which was turned into a film in 1999. While the movie isn’t in black and white, choosing to capture the sun-soaked Italian scenery that surrounded Tom, Dickie and Marge instead, there’s a reason Netflix's Ripley creators chose to film this TV edition without colour.

Read on to find out why.

Ripley: Freddie Miles is played by Eliot Sumner
Ripley: Freddie Miles is played by Eliot Sumner. Picture: Netflix

Why is Ripley in black and white?

Ripley on Netflix is entirely in black and white as the monochromatic feel felt more ‘sinister’ and in line with the themes of the book.

Steve Zaillian told Vanity Fair: “The edition of the Ripley book I had on my desk had an evocative black-and-white photograph on the cover. As I was writing, I held that image in my mind. Black and white fits this story - and it’s gorgeous."

The film version, starring Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, loved by so many is so colourful given its stunning Italian location and the creators of Ripley no doubt wanted their version to feel very different from the movie.

Ripley's creators stuck to the sinister theme by filming in black and white
Ripley's creators stuck to the sinister theme by filming in black and white. Picture: Netflix

Zaillian explained further to IndieWire: "When Patricia wrote it, if she imagined a movie being made from it back then, it would be in black and white. The cover of that book that I had was in black-and-white, so as I was reading it, it was in my mind to be that way."

"I also felt that this story - the one that she told, the one that I wanted to tell - was quite sinister and quite dark.”

“I just couldn’t imagine that taking place in a beautiful Italian setting with bright blue skies and colourful outfits and things like that," he added.

Ripley is streaming on Netflix now.

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