Sin City

Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, USA, 2005


Sin City is a cinematic adaptation of Frank Miller’s cult graphic novel. As well as providing the source material, Miller also co-directed the film. The film’s two directors wanted to keep the feel and the aesthetic of the graphic novel in transferring it in to film. At the end of this excerpt we even see a section of the graphic novel spread across the screen itself. To achieve their aim of keeping the film within the register of the source material they had to film the actors, but make the setting as unreal as possible. The actors had to be filmed in a green screen studio to allow the production crew the total freedom to digitally create the settings in post production. Today this technique has become rather common place and dull, and has allowed films such as Gravity to be made where the only real life elements on screen are the actors and a bit of the space capsule.

The film takes up one of the key design elements from the form of its graphic novel source, the images are presented in a high contrast black and white, suggesting night time, and only certain elements are coloured in, but in a blanket, uniform, unreal way, much like a coloured block from the graphic novel itself. Here we see the red of the woman’s dress and lips, and the green of her eyes. This sophisticated technical achievement recalls the hand or stencil coloured films from the dawn of cinema, as already seen in Melies’ A Serpentine Dance.


black and white and colors, comic strip.