What are some things that come to mind when you think of the making of a film? Acting, direction, camera work…stuff like that, right? What about colors?
A lot of times in film, colors go unnoticed by the general movie going audience. People don’t take into account what films would look like if we didn’t use color grading, or if costume and production designers used colors that didn’t fit with the tone of the film. Colors in film do so much, and represent so many different emotions and tones. Red can represent anger. Blue can represent dread. Yellow can set a crisp or dry feel. They can make us feel excited, sad, uncomfortable, and many other things. Let’s look at some examples.
Although a great sequence, the airport battle in “Captain America: Civil War” is colored so poorly. Throughout the whole film it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth because of how bland the color feels.
Most of this year’s superhero films felt washed out and bland with their colors. I think that most of “Batman v Superman” does a great job, except for the Doomsday battle. In this shot, we see the Trinity team up for the first time, but the colors in no way feel hopeful at all. The shot just looks gray, and quite frankly ugly.
Now look at this shot above from “Batman v Superman”, from the actual fight. It’s dreary, dark, and it works. Batman and Superman are at each other’s throats, the film is supposed to make you feel a sense of dread with it’s colors.
Now let’s look at a film that uses it’s colors excellently throughout. “Hell or High Water” does a fantastic job of using it’s colors to convey the setting of the film. Even if the film didn’t state it took place it Texas, you could assume that. By using the dry and grainy colors, it makes you feel as though you’re in Texas.
But color grading is not the only way you can convey the tone of a film through colors. The colors of character’s clothes, cars, rooms, and so on can help convey tone. For example, the beginning scene of “La La Land” sets the tone of the film through it’s extras colors of clothes and cars. Instead of using color grading, Chazelle uses vibrant colors on various items in the film to get across it’s tone. The vibrant colors give off a sense of happiness and joy.
As you can see, colors in film are more important than you may think. They can represent many emotions or even set the tone for an entire film. It is not something that should be overlooked. Color is just as important as art direction and set design. We need more colorful films.
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