Black and White (1999)

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German title Black and White
Original title Black and White
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1999
length 98 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director James Toback
script James Toback
production Daniel Bigel,
Michael Mailer,
Ron Rotholz
music Oliver "Power" Grant
camera David Ferrara

Black and White is an American ensemble film - drama from 1999 about the involvement of various people, especially white youth, in the life and activities of black gangsters and their admiration for this scene. Black and White comes in even the smallest supporting roles with an extensive and varied star cast. In addition to Hollywood stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Jared Leto, the former child star Brooke Shields, the model Claudia Schiffer and the professional athlete Allan Houston, many people appear as themselves: the director Brett Ratner , who was just out of prison at the time sacked Mike Tyson and numerous rappers, mostly members of the Wu-Tang clan .


The plot comes close to that of an episode film and is difficult to describe:

Filmmaker Sam Donager recognizes a new phenomenon in the USA: white youths imitate the style of blacks. Together with her gay husband Terry and equipped with a handheld camera, she wants to make a documentary about it and meets friends Charlie, Wren, Kim, Marty and Raven at a school, who are in the same class. From now on she accompanies these young people in their everyday life. Charlie comes from a good family and has daily trouble with her father because of her lifestyle, while her mother Muffy holds back. Although they are with Wren and Kim with Marty, the two girls have a sexual relationship with the black criminal Rich Bower, whom they admire for his skin color and gangster image.

He has control of a quarter, but wants to become legal and together with his buddy Cigar as a rapper in the music scene, which Rich also does for his girlfriend Jesse.

High school basketball athlete Dean Carter is a good friend of Rich. He is offered $ 50,000 from the mysterious gamer Mark Clear and is supposed to manipulate a game for it. He agrees, but Clear turns out to be a police officer with a dubious past who is now blackmailing him for this crime - Dean is supposed to deliver compromising material about Rich. He is unsure whether to go into it and discusses his dilemma with his girlfriend Greta.

Marty's father, Bill, is a Manhattan attorney, and his mother, Sheila, is also in the judiciary. Like him, his brother Will is fascinated by the black scene, but he is even more involved in it and in criminal activities, although he is not taken very seriously there. Will tips Rich that someone is trying to open a new club in his neighborhood without Rich's permission. He immediately goes into the shop with his people and threatens the future owner, Scotty, and his friends. Later, the problem can be cleared up with the help of Scotty's uncle, who is doing business with Rich.

It turns out that Greta is having an affair with Rich. She meets with him and tells him that Dean is about to betray him. In the evening, Rich finally urges Will to kill their mutual friend Dean, which he does that same evening. He is photographed by Clear.

Clear meets with Greta the next day. They once had a relationship that Clear wants to resume. Greta rejects him and is furthermore upset when she finds out that Clear is the cop behind the blackmail. However, she rules emotionally when she learns from him of Dean's murder, which she has betrayed herself.

Clear hands Bill King the incriminating material from his son Will and asks in return for the concealment of a minor crime of his own, so he is blackmailing someone again. King accepts.

Sam's documentation now seems to be ready. Terry once again expressly points out his homosexuality and separates from her.

Rich's friend Mike Tyson, who advised him to "fix" his problem himself, now distances himself from the way in which it was done. In the last shot you see Rich pointing out to his people that the business will now be legal. At that moment he receives a call from Clear, which informs him of further consequences for the future.

In the credits you see the protagonists six months later: Terry is with Charlie's teacher Casey, Sam with Wren, Will is involved in basketball and has evidently escaped the consequences of his murder. Mark Clear is alone and Charlie is dead too, while her friend Kim is still interested in affairs with black people. Greta has a date with Mike Tyson and, at the latest, turns out to be the most mendacious of all characters despite her education and her outwardly shown, morally high standards - with her angelic face she seduced Clear, Dean and Rich, but left them all for someone else . Rich and Cigar are shooting a music video and have thus managed to leave the scene.


While the audience was very divided about Black and White , the critics were more in agreement. Above all, it is criticized that the film uses exactly the statements and clichés that it is actually trying to address.

Black and White doesn't care about anything he says. [...] That is exactly why Black and White ends up in the eternal reproduction of the racist and sexist same thing. It provides pictures of men, women and hip-hop that tell little more than any misogyne and homophobic video clip on MTV. Dicks and chicks. Whites appear here in all kinds of professions, blacks are either athletes, musicians or gangsters. Whites struggle for identity, blacks 'are' simple and wonder about the complicated counterpart. "

- Film headquarters

On the other hand, Schnitt Online praises the authenticity:

“And yet, and that is another of Black and White's many strengths , the film manages almost entirely without explicit scenes of violence, but rather creates a threatening atmosphere of violence through the interaction of actors and camera and pointed dialogues. Even if the German synchronization, especially with the improvised raps, is almost unbearable, it cannot destroy the disturbing effect of Black and White . It seems as if James Toback's film marks the end of the fun era of the Tarantinos & Co. with their idiosyncratic and self-loving productions; and after the dogma- Danes who demand authenticity , a hand-held camera can be seen here, which, in the service of better fiction, gives the pictures the smell of street, reality, life. "

- Thomas Warnecke, editor online


  • Ben Stiller can be seen here in one of his few serious roles.
  • Large parts of the script were improvised by the actors.
  • Claudia Schiffer had to have her earlobes pierced especially for this film.

Individual evidence


Web links