Color in Film

Here at the SDF we teach all aspects of filmmaking. From start to finish we believe every aspect is equally important.

I’ve decided to spend some time exploring different aspects of what makes up the films I love.

The first thing I thought of was color. So this week I decided to take some time and think about some movies that have influenced me and changed the way I think about using it in film.

Frances Ha

This black and white movie that came out in the year 2013. I think this movie would have not worked if it had been in color. Its use of black and white evokes a mood of nostalgia and magic for me. It gave New York City and Paris a magical quality. It made me feel like it was from another time. Noah Baumbach said he wanted to use black and white to capture the energy and spirit of being young and living in a city like New York and how good that can feel.

Frances Ha

Grand Budapest Hotel

I could probably put any Wes Anderson movie on this list but this one really stood out to me when I watched it recently. Every thing seems very intentional and the color helps create this magical world that is somewhere between reality and a cartoon. It also helps us differentiate the different eras in the film as well. And some people have even noticed that some of the colors he chose are similar to the icing on the cakes from Mendls.

Grand Budapest

A Single Man

A Single Man changed the way that color could be used in movies for me. It uses it to show how the main character sees the world and how he feels about it. Watching this showed me that color is another tool that I can use to reveal more about a character and further the story.

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Pan’s Labyrinth

Guillermo Del Toro is also one of these I could put any movie of his on this list. Watching Pan’s Labyrinth I could feel how intentional the use of color is. Guillermo Del Toro uses it metaphorically. It took me reading interviews with Del Toro to see what the different color palates he chooses actually mean. Ofelia’s has a warmer one surrounding her. According to an article in American Cinematographer, Guillermo talked about wanting to create a comfortable womb like atmosphere for her, which contrasts with the darker colder reality around Captain Vidal.

Pans

Spring Breakers

Harmony Korine uses color to make this world look like a pop music video. He told the cinematographer Benoit Debie to make the it look like skittles. I find it fascinating how the bright neons contrast with the dark unsettling tone of the film and fits with the characters desire to live in a pop music video wonderland. In an article in the Huffington Post, Harmony talked about pink and how important it is in the film. He says that pink walks this line between empowerment and subjection that fits with the feeling of invincibility that the Candy and Brit have.

Image-1---Spring-Breakers

The more I study color film the more I realize how important it is. It is able to communicate ideas visually, show us something about a character, create a mood or just make it look more interesting. Ultimately if it doesn’t add to the story you’re telling then what is the point? I also find it interesting how much faith the filmmaker has to trust the audience with interpreting the colors correctly.

If you want to explore more I found an interesting website called www.thecolorsofmotion.com which compiles the color palates in different films in an interesting way.

What are some of your favorite movies that use color well?

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