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Ti West's Pearl Almost Looked Completely Different

There's no movie like Ti West's "Pearl." The hauntingly bright film plays out like a grounded yet nightmarish perversion of classic technicolor films like "The Wizard of Oz" — though, instead of a young girl trying to make her back home, "Pearl" sees its villain trying to make a home out of the bloody, distorted mess that's become her life.

A prequel to West's previous 2022 film, "X" (and now the second piece in what will soon be a trilogy, thanks to the recent announcement of "MaXXXine"), "Pearl" still strives to stand apart from its predecessor. In a letter sent straight to the film's producers at A24, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese praises "Pearl" for being crafted in "a diametrically opposite cinematic register" to "X" (via Slash Film). While it certainly has its own visual style and language, the creative team behind "Pearl" very nearly took this aspect of the film in the complete opposite direction.

A quarantine collaboration

In a recent interview with Collider, co-writer and "X"-trilogy star Mia Goth stated that during early conversations about the film, they talked about producing it entirely in black and white. As she notes, black and white filmmaking is actually cheaper than making a color film, which Goth and West thought might make the project more attractive to A24.

"Pearl" was green-lit before West had shot a frame of "X," a process that seems as easy and lucky as it was strenuous. Wanting to get the most out of their carefully crafted period set (located in New Zealand), West had the idea of shooting two films back-to-back, with "Pearl" following one of Goth's characters from "X" several decades prior (via No Film School). West and Goth spent their quarantine period for "X" writing the best "Pearl" script they possibly could to convince A24 to green-light it — as Goth notes, it would at the very least serve as a remarkably comprehensive backstory for her character.

As part of their pitch, West proposed making it black and white to reduce costs as much as possible, an idea that didn't sit well with A24 (via Collider). In an interview with Rue Morgue, West recounts his second idea and the nature of bringing it to the studio: "We told A24 that the alternative was to do this very colorful, almost childlike Disney-esque film, and lean into the magic of the Golden Age of Hollywood. That appealed to them and excited them, and they didn't care about saving the extra few bucks; they were like, let's do what's right for the film."