In cinema, as in most artistic works, it’s all about color. To make a good film, it is not enough to have just an exciting story and actors who master their roles well. You also, and most importantly, need a good mix of dyes. We think we know, but the question still deserves to be asked: what is the importance of color in the seventh art? The answer is in this article.
Color and light
If a child is asked to define what a color is, he will be able to list different colors. Even explaining that by mixing other colors, you get a new color. He will also say that the color is in objects and nature because his hat is red, his basketball is orange, and the plants are green. However, he would have difficulty explaining how our eyes perceive colors.
Our perception of color depends mainly on light, more precisely on the frequency of light radiation. Colors are even said to connoisseurs to be made up of wavelengths. We all learned at school that the white light emitted by the sun contains seven different colors—Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Violet has the shortest wavelength on the spectrum, while red has the longest.
Now, why do we see colors? The answer is simple. This is because the objects we see reflect an inevitable wave of light. And for that matter, our brain can decipher the wavelengths in color through our retina.
In short, it is not the basketball that is orange, but it is the reflection of the wave of light on its surface that is orange. This explains why everything is dark when it is dark, precisely because of the absence of light. In the knowledge of all this, we manipulate light in the cinema, like using colored lamps. Okay, it’s a bit confusing, but… hold on!
The role of color in film
Since its appearance on the screen, color has played an essential role in cinema. In the hands of a master, this tool can be used in various manipulations.
.First, it allows the viewer to find their bearings. In a film where two different eras are told, the change of color helps the public to find their paths. For example, in films where rather long memories are symbolized, the scenes that take place in the memories are often in black and white. Do you see what I mean?
Second, the color plays on the seasons or themes of the film. This is why in a film of terror or simply sadness, the colors are darker. The best illustration is the latest Batman movie, which has a very dark theme.
Third, it allows highlighting certain actors. For example, we set a color apart so that the viewer’s eyes are immediately glued to the character in question—for example, a red coat on an all-white background.
Finally, it helps in the construction of the characters. That is, by assigning each character a specific color. In the famous film “Alice in Wonderland” there is the Red Queen who only wears red clothes, the White Queen with white garments, of course, the Mad Hatter who is always in orange, and Alice in blue.
These colors mix and influence each other in the key scenes, creating a beautiful environment. Colors also express emotions in what is called color codes in cinema jargon.
Color codes in a cinema
In movies, the colors that the character wears say a lot about their personality. Yellow is often associated with the sun; it represents gold. It is a cheerful color representing strength, power, and light in different cultures. However, yellow is also a lunar color and is sometimes associated with betrayal, lies, and pride.
Green is an unstable color associated with Venus (don’t ask me why I see it weird, too). That said, it is symbolically neutral because it is linked to nature. It is always neutral, especially when talking about the vegetable kingdom. It’s not for nothing that all pharmacy logos are green. So, this color also symbolizes life and healing…
As for red, it is a color that is both sacred because it represents holy fire but also demonic because it illustrates the flames of hell and blood. Most of the time, this complexion represents love. The character assigned a color must represent at least one of its aspects.
Blue, the color of the sky and the sea, represents harmony, calmness, and peace.
In short, a director must take into account all these dimensions of colors in order to present these characters well. This will add value to your film.
Distribution of color in cinema
In film, there are dominant colors that can be easily distinguished and non-dominant colors that are difficult to spot at first glance. These are the background colors that blend in with the decorations. To make a good film, you have to play well with this detail, especially the background colors, because it helps to harmonize the scenes and highlight the characters better.
As we just said, who says color says light, and who says light says visibility. What makes movies beautiful to watch are the colors. And the sharpness of a film is a critical element in attracting most people to watch it. Of course, the more entries, the more profit there is for the director. But not only, as the colors also play a vital role in the indirect expression of the characters’ personalities and the film itself.