The Dinglehopper

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Open Your Eyes to Use of Color in Film-making

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For a few years now I’ve been talking about color use in film-making to my students using Ocean’s Eleven and The Social Network. The former contrasts Danny Ocean’s bland, restrictive, routine time in jail, colored with beige and winter cool blues, with his impassioned, adrenaline-boosting adventure executing a heist and winning back his wife, coded with red, gold, and green. The Social Network, alternatively, uses red and gold for the Harvard scenes, and introduces the coolness of blue and white with fictional Zuckerberg’s computer programming and development of Facebook. The meaning is obvious: Harvard’s school colors are maroon and gold while Facebook has a blue and white design.

But recently I discovered a video essay by Lewis Bond that takes a much broader view of color use, exploring history of color in film, the psychological reactions people have to particular colors, and the coding of characters using color. Bond discusses saturation, hue, balance, plus common combinations. He also discusses transition of color use to show a character’s development.

At only 16 min, the video accomplishes quite a lot, and I found it broadened our discussion and even clued me in to color coding in Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Yellows for Scott’s mundane life, red and blue to represent his relationship with Ramona, coded to match the colors in the DDR-Mortal Kombat game Scott plays on the date with Knives and figures as a motif in the final fight against Gideon.

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Author: Erin Perry

I'm a high school English teacher specializing in AP Literature and Film Analysis. I'm interested in most things geeky, including superheroes, vampires, zombies, teen culture, postmodern philosophy, pop culture analysis, and combinations of the aforementioned. Follow me on Twitter @eriuperry.

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