“The Walking Dead” has experimented with black and white in the past, but perhaps never in such an eye-catching why as the flashbacks in Sunday night’s season six premiere. In the episode, “First Time Again,” multiple flashback sequences were depicted in black and white, bringing to mind the visual aesthetic of the “Walking Dead” comic book, which has been published exclusively in black and white since its 2003 debut.
“Walking Dead” executive producer Greg Nicotero, who directed the season premiere, talked to Entertainment Weekly about the creative decisions behind the black-and-white flashbacks. “We knew there was gonna be a visual cue,” Nicotero said. “This was actually [showrunner Scott M. Gimple]’s idea. It was kind of like back on like ‘Hunt for Red October’ when Sean Connery is speaking Russian and then the camera just zooms in and he starts speaking English, and the camera zooms back out again. It was a nice transition, so in the opening shot when Rick pulls the gun and shoots Pete, and the color drains out, it was kind of like that idea. It works perfectly.”
The parallels between the black-and-white in “First Time Again” and in the comic book source material (written by “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman and originally illustrated by Tony Moore before Charlie Adlard took over the book with issue #7) weren’t lost on Nicotero, either.
“The black and white also does harken back to the graphic novel, and I think that’s why those black and white flashbacks work,” Nicotero told EW. “It’s funny, because a lot of the actors that just saw the episode hadn’t seen it yet because we literally just finished it. So some of them it took them a minute Â– because this is something we’ve never done before — so it was a very bold move.”
Will the black-and-white flashbacks return? In an interview iwth TV Line, Gimple said it’s “something we absolutely might do again,” but as of now, it’s considered a special element of the season premiere. In 2013, AMC aired repeats of “The Walking Dead” seasons one and two with the entire episodes shown in black-and-white.
“The Walking Dead” airs 9 p.m. Sundays on AMC.
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