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Essay: History of colour in film

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Films have been used to create a visual representation of a variety of alternative realities. The way in which they persuade the audience of this is through a multitude of methods such as setting, lighting, sound, colour and more. This essay will delve into the history of colour and discovering what developments have been made within this area regarding film history. Therefore this information will help me to investigate how or if this has impacted films so that they can persuade the audience to be invested in the reality of the film they are watching. Chapter 1 will delve into the colour application of Technicolor and how this altered how we perceive films, especially within the film The Wizard Of Oz. Chapter 2 will focus on complementary colours and how they are used to associate with a feeling or character like within the film Vertigo. Chapter 3 analyses the film Schindler’s List and how it uses colour association in a different way compared to The Wizard of Oz whilst still trying to emote to the audience. Chapter 4 explores the developments of technology and how this has impacted how colour can be used to alter the way in which we view a film. Chapter 5 investigates how selective saturation is used within Sin City and how this compares to others that have used similar effects such as Schindler’s List. Chapter 6 explores how transitional application in modern times can utilises digital colour to emotional effect. Chapter 7 investigates how and if digital colour can help restore footage that has been lost or damaged. Chapter 8 explores how a director who is colour impaired can utilise a specific palette to portray what emotions they want to emit. Finally Chapter 9 focusses on if colour application could alter how we view a situation and if the audience gains new information from this.

Chapter 1 – Wizard of Oz – 1939 – Technicolor

Fig:1. Screenshot of Dorthey entering Oz

Looking at the wide variety of films that have been produced It was difficult to identify where colour became such an important turning point when persuading the audience of the reality that they’re watching. However, for me personally one of the first big steps was the introduction of Technicolor. The Technicolor process is the method of “capturing the individual colour components red, green and blue on three individual black and white negatives” (Green, 2018) this process then allows the colours produced to be more vibrant and saturated allowing films to be more fantastical and otherworldly compared to our own reality.

Technicolor had been used to great effect for many years, but for me the film that utilises this technology to the highest potential was the film The Wizard of Oz, which was released in 1939 and directed by Victor Fleming and George Cukor (IMDb, 2018). Behind the scenes of directing the use and application of Technicolor was Natalie Kalmus who was married to the inventor of the process Herbert T. Kalmus (IMDb, 2018).

She had also worked on many films that used the process such as The adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Gone with the Wind (1939). Kalmus’ knowledge of colour theory and technical ability allowed her to direct The Wizard of Oz to have the balance and understanding of how to portray the emotions and feel of this other world (Edwards, 2017). The scene which highlights this process was when Dorothy exits her house which was situated in Kansas to then enter the world of Oz (Figure 1). This scene was split into two different colour palates, sepia tone for the house and then the explosion of the saturated colours for Oz. The way in which they were able to enhance this contrast of this transitional colour of the two realities was that they actually painted the house and actress’s body double in a “sepia tone so that the Technicolor process could be used for the bright Oz revel” (Edwards, 2018). This process allows the world of Oz to be even more breath-taking and contrasting. Also this process ended up changing critical parts of the story in which the slippers that Dorothy found were originally silver but they wanted to use the most of the Technicolor and therefore changed them to red so that they would be even more contrasting and visually stimulating against the yellow brick road, which has now become an iconic image of the film and the use of contrasting colours (Edwards, 2017).

If we imagine if this was filmed in black and white would it have the same emotional effect that the audience feels as well as allowing them to gain a new perspective and to be transported into this other world?

From this research, my hypothesis would be that without the application of colour the two worlds would be harder to distinguish from each other. It would lack the emotional element that colour adds within the film and that allows the audience to feel a sense of wonder as they enter the world of Oz. As if they are leaving their own reality and entering this magical Technicolor world that feels more wonderful and extraordinary than our own reality.

“Colour is one of the most natural tools for targeting that goal whether it be entertainment, dissemination of information or persuasion…We remember colour information longer than black and white…We are more deeply affected in our subconscious by colour than black and white.” (Jute, 1993).This quote explains how Important colour is within film especially The Wizard of Oz as we remember the story but mainly because of the striking colours that enhanced our own perception of the world that Dorothy enters into.

Chapter 2 – Vertigo – 1958 – Complementary colours

Fig: 2. Madeleine sitting in the restaurant

The use of the influential Technicolor showed how transitioning through the story using colour could be a successful way in which to develop the plot further.

How can colour be used in a variety of ways to develop the plot? One element of this that intrigued me was how colour association would help to distinguish key elements within the story.

A film that used colour in an associative way which highlighted the symbolic themes within the film in a successful way was Vertigo, which was released in 1958 and directed by Alfred Hitchcock (IMDb, 2018). Vertigo uses complementary colours to subconsciously highlight the contrasting pair of Scottie, who was surrounded by red, and Madeleine, who is surrounded by green. Both characters have their own story to tell and the way in which these colours highlight the symbolic emotion that helped progress the story and allow the audience to gain an emotional perspective from these colours and characters.

The idea of colour itself is a complicated one, because depending on your background and culture a colour may have a different association and meaning. This is important in films when they associate a colour with a character or subject as the viewers interpretation of the emotions being portrayed in a scene could be altered because of this. When trying to analyse how associative colour could impact the audience and their understanding of a certain area within the film, research into how and if colour could influence the audiences’ emotional viewpoint when colour is applied to a certain situation. Therefore, analysing Stuart Hall’s theory of encoding and decoding and how this idea relating to our cultural understanding allows us to understand information in a variety of ways.

Encoding is the process of making the message. It’s the information that one side wants to communicate to another. Decoding is receiving the encoded signals and trying to understand what someone already knows and trying to process the meanings of the messaging relating to the specific context it is connected to. Relating this study to colour is important as the process of encoding and decoding a message can be a verbal or non-verbal process, this then allows colour to be a key component when trying to inform another person of a certain emotion using subtle forms of communicating this. “Before this message can have an ‘effect’ (however defined), satisfy a ‘need’ or be put into a ‘use’, it must first appropriated as meaningful discourse and be meaningfully decoded. It is this set of decoded meanings which ‘have an effect’, influence, entertain, instruct, or persuade, with complex perceptual, cognitive, emotional, ideological behavioural consequences.” (Durham and Kellner, 2006)

This theory can be placed into how associative colour within a film can allow the audience to view a colour that is being attached to a subject and from our cultural understanding we can try to process what meaning and emotion it is trying to tell the audience. Such as red being known as a colour symbolising love which would relate within the context of the situation it is in, Scottie’s love for Madeleine. However, depending on your cultural background, understanding of who is encoding information and other important factors this could cause a miscommunication of what symbolism the colour could mean. “What are called ‘distortions’ or ‘misunderstandings’ arise precisely from the lack of equivalence between the two sides in the communicative exchange.” (Durham and Kellner, 2006)

Therefore going into a movie where colour is being used to produce a reaction, we have to look at how this could fit within the context of the film and what would be the most beneficial emotion they would want to portray to the audience.

Regarding the film Vertigo, in my opinion, colour has been known to be able to produce an emotional reaction from the audience that gives them more information towards the characters and helps develop the plot. James Gibson’s view point on colour is that “if one uses the term ‘colour’ to mean the pigmentation of substance in the environment, one has not said anything about our chromatic perception” (Batchelor, 2008) and this works within film culture because colour is heavily viewed as an emotion component which when applied successfully can supply information to the audience that they would not have gained without the use of colour. In my opinion this is successfully achieved within the film Vertigo.

The information that the audience receives from our knowledge of western uses of colour is that the use of red, that is associated with Scottie, symbolises his obsession and love with Madeleine as well as his fear of heights that end up restricting him. Whilst the colour green, which is associated with Madeleine, in this case symbolises her ghostly appearance and her distance from reality. The colours within the film follow and change depending on the plot and this is intriguing as colour are not fixed within this story.

Our first glimpses of Madeline shows her sitting in a restaurant dressed in green surrounded by a room flooded with the contrasting colour of red, symbolising Scottie’s future obsession over Madeleine (Figure 2 ). This continues throughout the film and shows the shift of colour. An example of this is when Scottie takes her back to his apartment and in this scene Scottie is now dressed in green showing that his obsession and love for Madeleine has now fully consumed him.

Hitchcock used the main colours of red and green “to relate the themes of his film: obsession, star-crossed love, crippling fear, and how these things can cause a divergence from reality” (Horton, 2016). To support the characters’ distance from reality that this colour palate has there was an underlying palate of the contrasting colours yellow and blue that were used when highlighting scenes in the film that are based within reality and allow the characters to assess their situation compared to the harsh scenes that are flooded with contrasting red and green. This use of colour association allows the audience to think of certain emotions when thinking of this film and the characters that are placed within the world. Therefore this allows the audience’s perspective to be heightened by the added use of colour and subconsciously connect scenes within the film to have more meaning and emotional weight than without the use of colour.

Chapter 3- Schindler’s List – 1993 – Selective colour

Above source – Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=723965

Fig: 3. Girl wearing a red coat walking aimlessly through the crowd of people

Another film that uses associative colour successfully would be Schindler’s List, released in 1993 and directed by Steven Spielberg (IMDb, 2018).

The way in which colour was applied to this film is different from Vertigo but has a similar effect in highlighting an area of important information. This also relates to the theory of encoding and decoding information that works well within the context of colour within the film of Schindler’s List. Allowing the colour red to hold a huge emotional context and symbolism that allows the audience to add more information that they would not have had without the use of colour.

Schindler’s List was filmed in black and white but then had selected areas of colour applied to show maximum contrast and to allow the audience to focus and associate a specific emotion with that colour and scene. The main area within the film that shows this contrast is when a little girl in a red coat appears in the chaos of all the Jews being transported from the ghettos to the labour camps. The scene is shot in wide frame from the perspective of Oscar Schindler who is watching from on top of a hill by the camp.

As the audience, our perspective is viewed as if we were Schindler watching the chaos around him, therefore we gain an understanding of how he may feel within this moment. As stated before the main focal point of this scene is the little girl in the red coat (Figure 3). The colour helps bring importance and significance of the girl. The red is a faint muddy red allowing it to stand out amongst the black and white but not too bright that is not jarring to the eye.

“Schindler identifies with the little girl in red, as she makes her way, aimless and alone, past the madness and chaos in the street.” (Auschwitz.dk, 2018) The symbolism of the girl is that she represents the innocence and the youth that are being massacred around her as she as a child is the epitome of this as she is oblivious to the situation that is happening around her. This obliviousness is how the rest of the Jewish community within the ghetto feel as they do not know whether they are going to be moved to another place or killed.

Schindler’s list is known for its graphic imagery and intense topic and therefore it makes it hard for the audience to view the film sometimes. “The negotiation with popular culture is referred to as ‘the art of making do,’ a phrase that implies that although viewers may not be able to change the cultural products they observe, they can ‘make do’ by interpreting, rejecting, or reconfiguring the cultural texts they see.” (Sturken and Cartwright, 2009) This view about cultural response perfectly represents how the audience would view Schindler’s list. Even though this scene is an intense and graphic one, the audiences focus is on the little girl as the use of the red creates a focal point that allows the audience to add more symbolism to the scene rather than if there was no colour at all, this therefore would feel very overwhelming and busy, rather than allowing to add more information to a scene. This also relates back to Stuart Hall’s encoding and decoding theory as depending on our cultural and personal background we could have interpreted the red in a variety of ways however, as the red is placed into this specific histrionical context our first reaction is to symbolise it with blood. As the event that this was based on is universally recognisable and therefore the audience would be able to decode the messages within this context. This therefore has been used successfully as it accomplishes the emotional connection it wanted to portray.

The film then carries on in its black and white format so that the limited use of red which created huge impactful. We do not know what happens to the girl until later on when we view the scene from Schindler’s viewpoint again as he sees a glimpse of red within the corpses. This colour association allows the audience to connect the girl from before as no other use of red has been used. Allowing more emotional information to be given subtly by using simple selective colour.

Chapter 4 – O’ Brother Where Art Though- 2000 – Colour grading

Fig: 4. A screenshot of the film showing the 3 convicts.

Towards of the end of the 20th century, digital technology was advancing and becoming more influential within the film industry and “For the first time the look of an entire live action feature film was manipulated digitally.” (YouTube, 2018) and the film that successfully used this technique was O’ Brother Where Art Though, that was filmed in 2000, and directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen and director of photography Roger Deakins (IMDb, 2018).

This technique was used as the filming production of O’ Brother Where Art Though was filmed in Mississippi in the middle of summer. However, the colour palette that was envisioned for the film was one that would create the effect of a dusty storyboard style which was a stark contrast on the lush green environment that they were in. Therefore, they decided to try to manipulate the film colouring so that they could achieve this effect.

Eventually after weeks trying to achieve the effect using methods that have previously been successful, they had no progress therefore they started using digital colour grading which was a new development at the time (Figure 4). This way of selecting and manipulating colour was extremely successful and changed the way that digital colour was used in future films. “All the lush greens and blues of the mid southern south are transformed into yellows and oranges and burnt ochres, evoking a dusty autumn feel without tinting everything sepia. It’s a more controlled refined look that comes from singling out some colours whilst leaving the others alone.” (YouTube, 2018)

The audiences’ perspective was heavily influenced by the digital colour grading as it was successful in creating the overall effect that the Coen brothers wanted to have. If they had used previous methods of tinting the frames or even manipulating their surroundings like they had within the house in The Wizard of Oz it would not have the same seamless effect and also would have taken a lot of time to achieve a similar effect that wouldn’t have had the same impactful finished look.

The colour in itself became a character within this story as its presence was so important in representing the time and place that the characters were in. As Randy Starr, VP business developments of Cinesite, states when talking about colour being an influential element within the film, “ It lets you feel the period of time, it lets you feel the heat in the air, it lets you feel the sweat on their body and that is something that the filmmaker could not capture in camera and can only use digital technology to let them capture that.” (YouTube, 2018).

Chapter 5 – Sin city – 2005 – Selective saturation

Fig: 5. The character of Yellow Bastard holding Nancy with a knife to her.

Now that technology regarding digital film colouring has become more advanced and accessible to use, film directors have taken advantage of this and are able to create heavily saturated uses of colour and place them to have important meaning within the context of the film.

For me a film that uses this technology to its advantage is Sin City, directed by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino in 2005 (IMDb, 2018). Sin City uses selective saturation of colour similar to the film Schindler’s List as they are predominantly filmed within black and white with limited use of colour placed throughout. The difference is that within Sin City was that they were able to use the digital advantages to have exaggerated saturated colours that worked well creating the effects that a graphic comic that inspired the film would have.

The graphic novels by Frank Miller were the inspiration for the cinematography style which is why this colourisation works well. The contrast of the black and white allows the film to resemble the comic style that it is trying to replicate and give a psychological sense that the film is being drawn like the comics.

On top of the intense atmosphere that the chromatic palette has, they decide to add limited areas of colours. As these colours are used sparingly they obtain huge narrative and emotional significance. When any singular colour is used, it is used so purposefully that the audience focus immediately and therefore is drawn to that colour and the subject that it is being associated with.

For me one of the most eye catching colours was yellow and its association with one of the film’s villains called Roark Jr, also known as Yellow Bastard (Figure 5). “For the Yellow Bastard his skin colour is a sickly acidic yellow that we know it represents something repulsive without Harrigan stating so” (Tboake.com, 2007) therefore, as this highly saturated colour is recognised by the audience from their previous cultural knowledge as a chemical and toxic substance and as the audience believes that the directors have successfully represented the character of Yellow Bastard by using simple and subtle uses of colour that effectively represent his persona in a subtle yet visually striking way. This also relates back to the Encoding and Decoding theory that works well within this film context. Allowing the audience to associate and decode the personality of Yellow Bastard by the use of the strong sickly yellow.

Chapter 6 – The Fall – 2008 – Transitional colour within modern film

Fig: 6. Five of the fantastical characters that are within Roy’s story

Associative colour has been used to great effect now that technology advances regarding colour manipulation have become an important element in contributing to the audiences perspective of a film, but how has transitional uses of colour been used within this century? A film that to me uses colour to drive the symbolism of the movie is The Fall, which was released in 2008, and directed by Tarsem Singh (IMDb, 2018).

The Fall takes advantage of the colour wheel by using all of the colours and contrasting this against a dull palate to emphasise the transition between these two sections of the story. The colour palates are split into the two realities within the film. The film revolves around the characters of Alexandria and Roy Walker who both meet each other whilst they are staying in a hospital which leads to Roy telling Alexandria a fantastical story that revolves around five adults and a young girl (Figure 6).

The extensive use of all the colours are representative of Alexandria’s imagination projected through Roy’s story. This then contrasts with the dull colours of reality that surround them and their situations in real life that Roy especially is trying to escape. The fantastically vibrant story world setting did not actually need much manipulation of colour using technology as the film was shot over multiple countries which spanned over four years. This was essential so that they could obtain the most vivid hues to enhance the plot of this story, therefore creating a clear separation of reality and the story world. “He employs colour in every possible way, from the space like orange dunes of the location, to the sky high blood red soaked funeral banner of his set design, to the primary colour wheel costuming of his main cast.” (YouTube, 2017). Everything that had colour within it was meticulously thought out and therefore created an impacting visual that allowed the audience to access the perspective of this world that was the window into the imagination of a little girl. Without the strong contrast of the two realities the audience’s perception wouldn’t be as clear, therefore the transition would be harder to differentiate which makes “It is an excellent example of how colour can alter the perception, aid transitions and create an emotional response or cue within the movie.” (Colourandperception.wordpress.com, 2014).

Colour has been used in a variety of ways throughout the history of film so that it could associate itself which would allow the audience to gain a new perspective on the area that needs highlighting. “At the same time, we have increasingly been exposed to luminous colour, as the virtual rapidly invaded our conscious experience – colour on T.V, video, computers, movies – all potentially ‘enhanced’ and therefore more intense, more fantastical, more glamorous than any real colour on real surfaces. Colour, paint, coatings, in comparison somehow become matt and dull” (Batchelor, 2008)

This theory works itself well to the film The Fall as the audience’s perspective is heavily influenced by the highly saturated colours that represents the story from Alexandria’s imagination. The vibrant colours contrasted with the dull real life created a more enhanced transitional element which therefore also enhances the audiences viewpoint and connecting emotions to the different scenes. Stuart Hall’s theory also applies within this context which allows the audience to understand and decode the colour symbolism that differentiates Alexandria’s world to reality. Allowing the audience to understand the imagination of a little girl.

Chapter 7 – Trip to the Moon – 1902 colour edition – 2011 – restoration of colour

Fig: 7. A frame from the film A Trip to the Moon with hand-coloured application applied to it.

With massive advancements in technology within the past years, we are now able to restore and fix films that have previously been affected or damaged by time. However, does the application of technological colour take away from the previous techniques that have been used which therefore could then turn everything into the same mass produced visual effect?

The film A Trip to the Moon which was originally released in 1902, and directed by George Méliès (IMDb, 2018) was originally coloured using hand-coloured techniques, this was done so that they could enhance the dream like quality of film which therefore allow it to become even more wonderous to enhance the visuals of the film that allowed the audience to use as an escapism into a more fantastical reality.

The way in which they painted on every separate colour allowed the film to have its own unique effect as brush marks and human errors were left on the individual frames. However, “no hand- coloured prints of A Trip to the Moon were known to have survived until 1993 when an anonymous donor left a collection of two hundred silent films to the Filmoteca de Catalunya Archive in Barcelona Spain. One of these films was A Trip to the Moon.” (Smallrooms.com, 2015).

This discovery was huge however many of the prints were severely damaged and this then began the process of trying to fully recover the colour film. As the years went by 13,375 fragments of the film were digitalized and then stored so that they could be ready to be fixed by digital colourizing. Unfortunately, at the time the technology was not advanced enough to be able to reassemble the fragments and therefore had to wait until this technology was improved.

In 2010 the digital technology was now at a level where restoration teams were able to launch the project to restore the film. The process was overseen and took place at the Technicolour Creative Services in Los Angeles.

The way in which they were able to connect the film was using the black and white version and applying digitalized colour to the patch up the segments that were lost. The final film was completed in 2011, 18 years after first discovering the lost coloured version, as well as 109 years after it was original released.

Even though this was a huge step in being able to restore coloured film footage that had been corrupted from time does this new application of colour take away from some of the charm of hand-colouring?

From the footage of the film you can clearly see the areas of hand colour shows human error in how the strokes show visible instability when holding the brushes. “The coat worn by one of the scientists in the observatory tableaux wavers from blue to green and then returns to blue. The colour then bleeds into the scientist’s wig” (Haslem, 2012). You can see this use of hand colour throughout all of the frames (Figure 7). In my opinion, that shows how well the digitalized colour blends seamlessly with the original colouring. The development of technology was able to recreate this process in a quicker way in which they were able to restore the film to how it originally was meant to be shown.

Chapter 8 – Only God forgives – 2013 – Neon/ harsh colours – Colour bind direction

Fig: 8. The character of Julian being lit by the contrasting neon red background.

A film that intrigues me on its uses of colour application is Only God Forgives, released in 2013 and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (IMDb, 2018). In particular because the director Refn is colour blind, “Yes, I’m colour blind I can’t see mid-colours. That’s why all my films are very contrasted, if it were anything else I couldn’t see it” (Smith, 2011), which influences how he directs his films and why he uses such heavy uses of strong colour theory. As Refn is mid tone colour blind and therefore cannot see muted colours, in result of this his way in manipulating colour to his advantages is to use strong combinations of contrasting colours.

The saturated neon colours against the black background allows the colour to stand out and have heavy symbolism against the characters that specific colours surround certain characters, such as the heavy use of blood red highlighting the character of Julian to symbolise the violence and rage that he possesses (Figure 8). The use of the neon colour palette is so saturated which then floods the scene when a colour is present.

This use of colour highlights the central character’s detachment from reality making the film have an overall feeling of a dream like state His use of colour seems to hold such significant importance that it is on par with the plot itself.

Therefore, researching into more depth into how Refn’s colour blind handicap has helped define him as a film director. Refn takes part in an interview, with the company Nowness, talking about how his disability affects his creative process and the power of embracing our weaknesses. “Seeing is understanding, but it’s still subliminal, because cinema is really not about what we see; it’s about what we don’t see. Creativity is about a two-way experience where you experience something that plants a seed that you deliver back into whatever it is you’re experiencing. And it becomes this circular movement that basically travels with you the rest of your life. It defines you, forms you, inspires you, scares you” (Amies, 2016).

The way in which Refn talks about his process of receiving and understanding information works with Stuart Hall’s theory of encoding and decoding. On how the information that we gain from anything in life but in this case film can impact our experiences throughout our lives and how this therefore is detrimental in how we understand our surroundings.

The use of colour is so significant to this theory as even now directors such as Refn use these ideologies to understand how a variety of audiences will analyse what information is trying to be portrayed and then that gained information will impact how they view areas
associated with that colour allowing it to hold such significant importance when used.

Chapter 9 – They Shall Not Grow Old – 2018 – Colour restoration

Fig:9. Black and white footage that has had colour applied to the frames.

The use of digital technology has opened up a variety of ways that information can be gained from applying colour to film. With our understanding of how colour can be such an important factor within a film, director Peter Jackson had decided to adapt the silent footage from World War One and apply colour and sound to create a new view point and to be able to understand more of what these people were going through. “To make a documentary called They Shall Not Grow Old, Jackson was given hundreds of films by the museum which he has spent the last four years working on.” (Cotter, 2018).

Jackson also did this project completely for free which shows that he believed this documentary was important to create. Every frame that they used was original footage that was from WW1 the only thing that was added was digital colour and sound (Figure 9). They decided to use lip readers to try and gain an understanding of what these people would be talking about.

The documentary was also a way in which the audience would be able to view WW1 as more than a black and white film because “It’s a black and white war, but it wasn’t a black and white war.” (BBC News, 2018).

As the people who were living this experience did not see their reality as black and white and therefore allows the audience to gain a new perspective than the one they already had. The decision to add these elements was supposed to allow the audience to access more information from these scenes and gain more of an understanding of how it must have felt to be there.

To me Jackson was able to achieve his goal of supplying more information and in my opinion allows the audience to gain a new perspective for what these people would have gone through and therefore allowing us to have more of a connection with the people within this documentary.


This essay has delved into over 100 years of history regarding the use and application of colour within film. My conclusion is that colour has been used successfully in a variety of ways from using it as a transitional device, where this is stated in chapter 1 (The Wizard of Oz), 4 (O’ Brother Where Art Though), and 6 (The Fall), to connect a whole film to allow the audience to understand more of the emotional aspect of the place that they are watching. To the associative uses of colour, stated in chapter 2 (Vertigo), 3 (Schindler’s List), 5 (Sin City), and 8 (Only God Forgives), to allow the audience to gain a new emotional connection by the subtle uses of colour to symbolise the character in a variety of ways.

To understanding how our own individual cultural background can play an huge role in how we understand these uses of colour, this symbolism is used within Chapter 3 where we understand that red symbolising blood within this context, and this allows the audience to decode the messages and symbolism that the director wanted to portray within the film. This utilises Stuart Hall’s theory within many films as the director wanted to portray as certain emotion using colour to allow the audience to decode and therefore add another element to the film experience.

To even how the lack of ability to see certain colours can allow a director to create a film that works with his own personal knowledge of colour, which is used within chapter 8 in how Only God Forgives utilises a neon palette creating a harsh but effective contrast.

The development of digital technology has also allowed directors to manipulate how colour is applied and can show a range of different emotions by choosing one colour palette over another, discussed in chapter 4 (O’ Brother Where Art Though). As well as being able to restore and alter images to utilise the effect that colour can add within a film, examined in chapter 7 (A Trip to the Moon) and chapter 9 (They Shall Not Grow Old). Therefore, in my opinion colour is a huge element within film and without it we would lose the ability to share information to the audience through such a subtle yet effective way.

Whilst recognising the dramatic effect of black and white, the use of colour envelopes us into a world that excites and allows us to transport into another reality that we wouldn’t be able to access and that allows us to escape the struggles and the everyday problems of our own reality. The range of how colour can be used within the future is unknown however, from what history has taught us any developments that allow the audience to gain more information will help us to expand our perspectives of the ever wondrous world of films.


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