Pearl: An Homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood

By Ahly Manzueta — A and E Editor

After an X-traordinary summer an even better villain origin story has been released — the slasher prequel to the movie of the same genre, X. A24 film, Pearl, written by Ti West and Mia Goth was released on September 16, 2022. 

X was released in March 2022, following a group of young filmmakers in the 70s who head out to a secluded farm in Texas owned by an elderly couple to film their newest project who are then met with some horrific surprises. Set on the same farm over 60 years prior during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, Pearl follows a young farm girl by the same name who is tired of the quiet farm life caring for her parents. With her husband away at war, her father incapitated by the flu, and a scornful mother, Pearl is ready to fulfill her dream of being a star dancing in pictures. And she won’t let anything or anyone stop her. Goth plays two different characters in this franchise, Maxine Minx and Pearl— young and old— in both films. Not only are there contrasts between these two characters but also in how the two movies were filmed. X is practically a tribute to  classic gritty retro slashers whereas Pearl is nearly the complete opposite, filmed in a Disney-like Technicolor fashion. 

Most movies from the 1910s to 1940s were filmed using Technicolor, a complicated process of achieving color in film that can give a bright candy-colored effect.

Because of how intricate the process of using Technicolor was it eventually stopped being used, but was the inspiration for the aesthetic of the film. West says the creators had to work around not having Technicolor available to them. “You really can’t recreate [Technicolor] without sort of using it — and we weren’t using it… There’s only so much you can do in the color correction… What’s gonna get you there is like what’s in front of the camera, so we just made a huge effort with the costumes and the production design and everything,” said West in an interview with Indiewire.

“The most interesting part of Technicolor, for me, was that it was the type of aesthetic this sort of story is not typically told in. You don’t see Disney movies that transpire the way this movie does. That felt compelling to me, because it was a way to take something somewhat retro and modernize it. That felt fresh, like a new way to look at it,” added West.

At first X was meant to be a one-off film not a franchise, so many things changed from the beginning of Goth and West’s planning for Pearl to the start of filming. 

Goth says the Technicolor aesthetic was not part of the film from the beginning. “Originally we wanted it to be a black and white film, and we were just thinking from a pure practical point of view— a black and white film is cheaper, and we were just trying to incentivize A24 as much as possible to just let us make it. But they weren’t so keen on that… And so we thought ‘Okay, well, let’s go to the complete opposite end and make it completely Technicolor’— sort of this demented Disney sort of movie, and [it] actually all worked out for the best, because I don’t think the film would be anywhere as good as it is, had it been in black and white,” said Goth.

Viewer Abbey Ryan says the movie stands out from others. “I feel like the bright candy world look that the movie has is what really makes it stand out from other horror movies and what makes it so encaptivating,” she said.

A24 revealed that the final film in this trilogy will be titled MaXXXine. A release date has not yet been announced.

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