A cheerful, cheery yellow, a thoughtful turquoise, A violent, startling red. When you watch a movie, the colours you see are not by accident. Filmmakers painstakingly construct each frame and choose colours that influence your viewing experience, even if you aren't aware of it. Here are some examples of how colour is used in movies to enhance the story.
Complex stories are made simpler by colour - We tend to think of early movies as being in black and white, but colour has actually been around since the beginning. It gave travelogues from the 1890s more authenticity and gave movies like Georges Méliès' A Trip to the Moon (1902) a fanciful sense. According to some estimates, up to 80% of early films included colour. Barbara Flueckiger, a film professor at the University of Zurich, has constructed a chronology of the 230+ procedures used to colour films over time. Filmmakers discovered that using various tones might aid viewers in following narratives that bounced between characters and settings. For instance, in Intolerance (1916), D.W.
To indicate that his four narratives took place in various eras, Griffith gave each of them a distinctive colour. Early filmmakers painted film strips by hand or submerged them in dyes and chemicals to generate colour; this labour-intensive procedure was primarily carried out by women in sweatshops. Because it was challenging to attach a soundtrack to a film strip with applied colour, sound ultimately put an end to color's era on screen. It took until 1932 for colour to reappear when Technicolor developed a method for applying dye to film. Technicolor pioneered many of the colour processes still in use today, even as cinema transitioned to digital, including high-profile blockbusters like The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Gone with the Wind (1939).
The audience experiences colour - Pixar's director of photography, Danielle Feinberg, calls herself "colour obsessed" (TED Talk: The magic ingredient that brings Pixar films to life). She admitted, "I think about that all the time." "Color and lighting are fundamental components of emotion," She cites a scene from The Incredibles (2004) where Mr. Incredible sits at his desk at Insuracare; the picture's muted, grayscale colouring conveys a sense of melancholy. Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear's yellowish-green surroundings in Toy Story 3 (2010) hint that he may not be the cute, cuddly bear you first assumed. Pixar develops a "colour script" for each movie that specifies the tones for every scene in order to make them all fit into the overall narrative flow. Feinberg analyses WALL-E (2008)'s opening: We have to employ a lot of visual storytelling because the only sound effects are robot beeps and boops. We nevertheless required the audience to comprehend that we are on Earth, that it is contaminated, and that WALL-E is the lone survivor. Therefore, we kept the colour scheme to tans and oranges," she remarked. Because he desired a visual impact when WALL-E discovers a plant for the first time, our production designer insisted that there be no green anyplace. This significant occasion is emphasised through colour. Feinberg said, "Your eyes have been bathed in a small palette and then there's strong green. "It's a cerebral difference,"
Color depicts a character's development - Director Barry Jenkins narrates the tale of a youngster named Chiron growing up in a difficult neighbourhood and struggling with his identity in the midst of the crack epidemic and severe bullying in this year's Best Picture Oscar winner, Moonlight. Jenkins wanted to convey this challenging subject while showcasing the "beauty of Miami," where he grew up. Early in the production process, cinematographer James Laxton and colorist Alex Bickel of Color Collective discussed the colour scheme for the movie. After filming, they spent roughly 100 hours digitally adjusting the colour grade. Miami is a city that is naturally vibrant, according to Laxton.
We were able to intensify colours and distort hues to make things look better. To depict the character's development, they also mimicked the colour qualities of three different film stocks. The three parts of Moonlight that tell Chiron's story are as follows: in part one, when he is known as "Little," they imitated Fujifilm stock, which brings out lush greens and blues; in part two, when he becomes the teenage "Chiron," they imitated Agfa stock, which has cyan in its highlights and gives things a slightly off-kilter appearance; and in part three, when he transforms into the adult "Black," they moved to Kodak Film stock, which gives a polished, Hollywood look.
Color conveys the themes of a movie- Lewis Bond, a filmmaker, runs a YouTube channel on filmmaking and has created a lyrical explanation of colour in movies. He examines how colour repeats can disclose a movie's message in it and suggests watching for these repetitions. According to him, a colour is connected to a concept when it appears repeatedly. "When the hue changes, it lets you know that this idea has evolved." Green is related to Madeleine and the main character's fixation with her in Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film Vertigo. Right up to the film's climax, the colour becomes increasingly noticeable and unsettling. Blue is the most prevalent colour in Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013), and while the hues start off bright and colourful, they eventually turn chilly and pallid. It's a manifestation of sensitivity diminishing visually, according to Bond. In Moonlight, cinematographer Laxton used a daring colour choice that adds significance by strategically placing a vivid, startling hot pink. It first appears in a heartbreaking scene involving Chiron's mother. Laxton stated, "We found that hue during shooting the sequence, and it just did a lot for us. Beyond that, the colour denotes times when Chiron deviates from reality. It feels both angry and seductive at the same time. In a dream sequence, the colour pink appears repeatedly as Chiron confronts his true desires, another crucial turning point in the formation of his personality. Colorist Alex Bickel described the feeling as "heightened." It transports you to a magical location.
Despite the fact that colour aids in telling a story, everyone we spoke to in this article agreed that it must do it subtly. "God, the colour in this moment is fantastic is the last thing I want people to think when watching a movie. Or, it's awful,'" Bickel remarked. "It functions best subconsciously."
By- Sriparna Mukherjee
Profession – Student
University – Amity University Kolkata
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