THE ROLE OF COLOR IN MOVIES

Color is sometimes an unpredictable decision for those making a film, but it is important to understand the significance of color...
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To define color, one will say color is the property of light, not of objects or moistures. In film, color is not only about being artistic. The introduction of color in motion films in the early 20th century was set to charm audiences like never before. The use of color can conjure up a mood or set the tone for a film and Filmmakers understand this task. There are three main components of color, they include Hue (which is the color itself which concerns Primary colors like Red, Blue and Yellow which are the main combinations that give the degree to which different colors are made), the second component is Saturation (the amount of grey mixed in the color) and last, Brightness (determines how dark or light a color is).

The role color has to play in films is of great importance and it is due to it that the movies you watch brings forth several emotions. Imagine watching a film in Black and White, it cannot be as interesting as a movie filled with different colors. The color palette used in a film can help tell a story. This helps the viewer feel certain emotions, such as the use of red blood in a horror movie, or a green shade which stands for jealousy.

Color in a movie also helps draw the attention of the user to a specific detail, like a red handle on a white door. Color can set the overall tone of a film. For example, the use of purple to create a sense of fantasy. Color can help the film identify character traits, such as having a greedy businessman wear green or a melancholy character wear yellow. Color can also be used to show the evolution of a character in a story.

There are different colors that elicit different emotions in movies and these colors have their own meanings. To begin with Red, it is a color of extremes. In films, red is the color of love, passion, excitement, desire, violence, blood, danger, anger, fire, war, heat, and rage. Red captures a viewer’s attention and is one of the most visible colors. The next color is Pink and this color is a combination of red and white. In films, pink is the color of innocence, romance, charm, sweetness, femininity, playfulness, empathy, and beauty. Next is Orange which is a contradictory color and is very vibrant. The color orange, is like the fruit itself and it symbolizes health and wellness. Orange is also the color of life rafts and hazard cones. Yellow which is the next, is the most radiant color on the color wheel (a color circle that is an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle, which shows the relationships between primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors and others). It captures the viewer’s attention more than any other color. The human eye processes yellow first on the color spectrum. Another color is Green which has become a symbol of ecology. Some see green as a holy color and others see it as a lucky color. On most traffic lights, green is the color for ‘Go’. Next on the list is Blue which is one of the most sighted favorite colors, blue is the color of nature, from the water to the sky. Blue is as cold as red is hot. Blue has a complementary color in orange. Lastly is Purple which is a rare color in nature and the most powerful wavelength on a rainbow. It is the most powerful visible wavelength of electromagnetic energy. Purple is therefore the hardest color for the eye to discriminate. When working with color, one has to distinguish two methods which are either the Addictive colors (a set of primary colors is RYB- Red, Yellow and Blue, or the colors that can’t be mixed by any other color) or Subtractive colors (these are color combinations created by the equal mixture of two primary colors and these Secondary colors are Cyan, Magenta and Yellow).

Color is sometimes an unpredictable decision for those making a film, but it is important to understand the significance of color. Films tell us stories, we learn from films, we have emotional adventures and loose ourselves in films. Next time you watch your favorite movie, think about the way color was used and what emotions it brought forth in you as you enjoyed watching it. Film is a powerful medium and with the right color use it can be even more powerful for those watching. Color has a very important role it has to play in every movie and the emotions it brings forth is what makes the movie very special.

Délia Nadia

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