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Unit 3: Practical 2:

Film Forms

Derek Jarman Blue

 Last Scene
Francois Truffaut (Director of The 400 Blows,
Jules and Jim etc- Leading member of the New
 “I think that colour has done as much damage to
cinema as television... It is necessary to fight
against too much realism in the cinema, otherwise
it's not an art... From the moment that a film is in
colour, that is shot in the street today, with the sun
and the shade and the dialogue covered by the
sound of motorbikes, it's not cinema any more...
When all films were in black and white, very few
were ugly even when they were lacking in artistic
ambition. Now ugliness dominates."
Colour or Black and
 Colour is a key element in which Directors can influence mood,
create effects, emphasise a sense of space, differentiate characters
and effect the storyline/plot.

 Truffaut, who fought against "realism" in the cinema, associated

colour with reality. Initially in Hollywood colour was used for fantasy
particularly the vivid use of technicolour in films such as The Wizard
of Oz.
 For Jean Renoir "black and white profits from the advantage that
lies in the impossibility of its being realistic, whether you want it or
not the world outside is in colours."
 The same attitude prompted Michael Powell and Emeric
Pressburger, in A Matter of Life and Death, to shoot the scenes in
Heaven in monochrome and the "realistic" scenes on Earth in
Tinting and Toning
 Color movies started nearly as early as film itself in 1895 with Thomas Edison's hand-
painted Anabelle's Dance made for his Kinetoscope viewers.
 George Méliès was utilizing a similar hand-painting process for his films, including the
visual effects pioneering A Trip to the Moon (1902), which had various parts of the
film painted frame-by-frame by twenty-one women in Montreuil in a production-line
 A more common technique, Film tinting was a process in which either the emulsion
or the film base is dyed, giving the image a uniform monochromatic color. This
process was popular during the 1920s, with specific colors employed for certain
narrative effects (red for scenes with fire or firelight, blue for night, etc.).
 A complementary process, called toning, replaces the silver halide particles in the
film with metallic salts or mordanted dyes. This creates a color effect in which the dark
parts of the image are replaced with a color (e.g., blue and white rather than black
and white). Tinting and toning were sometimes applied together.
Physics of light and color

 The principles on which color photography are

based were first proposed by Scottish physicist
James Clerk Maxwell in 1855 and presented at the
Royal Society in London in 1861.
 By that time, it was known that light comprises a
spectrum of different wavelengths that are
perceived as different colors as they are
absorbed and reflected by natural objects.
 Maxwell discovered that all natural colors in this
spectrum may be reproduced with additive
combinations of three primary colors - red, green
and blue - which, when equally mixed together,
produce white light.
Additive color (Filters)

 The additive color systems were practical because

they could be incorporated with black-and-white film
stock. The various additive systems entailed the use
of color filters on both the movie camera and
 Additive color adds lights of the primary colors in
various proportions to the projected image. Because
of the limited amount of space to record images on
film, and later because the lack of a camera that
could record more than two strips of film at once,
most early motion picture color systems consisted of
two colors, often red and green or red and blue.
Subtractive color
 Subtractive color largely started with the inventions of William Van Doren Kelley. The first
successful subtractive color process was Kelley's Prizma Color, an early color process that
was first introduced at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on
8 February 1917 with the short film Our Navy.
 Everywhere With Prizma (1919) and Catalina Island (1920) before releasing features such
as The Glorious Adventure (1922) and Venus of the South Seas (1924).
 Technicolor's system was extremely popular for a number of years, but it was a very
expensive process: shooting cost three times that of black and white photography and
printing costs were no cheaper.
 By 1932, general color photography had nearly been abandoned by major studios, until
Technicolor developed a new advancement to record all three, primary colors. It became
the most widely used color motion picture process in Hollywood from 1922 to 1952.
 Utilizing a special dichroic beam splitter equipped with two 45-degree prisms in the form of
a cube, light from the lens was deflected by the prisms and split into two paths to expose
each one of three black and white negatives (one each to record the densities for red,
green, and blue).
 Technicolor became known and celebrated for its hyper-realistic, saturated levels of color,
and was used commonly for filming musicals (such as The Wizard of Oz and
Singin' in the Rain), costume pictures (such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and
Joan of Arc), and animated films (such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia
Colour and Television
 The real push for color films, came with the introduction of
television in the early 1950s.
 In 1947 only 12 percent of American films were made in color. By
1954 that number rose to over 50 percent. The rise in color films
was also aided by the breakup of Technicolor's near monopoly on
the medium.
 Modern color film is based on the subtractive color system, which
filters colors from white light through dyed or color sensitive layers
within a single strip of film.
 A subtractive color (cyan, magenta, yellow) is what remains when
one of the additive primary colors (red, green, blue) has been
removed from the spectrum.
 Eastman Kodak's tripack color film incorporated three separate
layers of color sensitive emulsions into one strip of film.
Kodachrome was the first commercially successful application of
monopack multilayer film, introduced in 1935.
 Dialogue and narrative are often thought of as factors that
carry a film. Films can also be centred around colour. Colour
plays an important role in the formation of the world inside the
 Colour affects meaning through
1. Varying hues
2. Degrees of intensity
3. Saturation
4. Brightness
 When making or analysing film start by asking
 What are the colours in the film?
 What sensation does the choice of colour create?
 How does colour help organise the visual space?
Ideas around the use of colour can be seperated
into two areas

 Internal – colour used as a means to create a sense of

continuity an overall feel (For example a Blue tint added to
create the feeling of melancholy or coldness)
 This is sometimes called Color grading and is the process
of altering and enhancing the color of a motion picture or
television image, either electronically, photo-chemically or

 External - The use of colour is symbolic and changing

hues of backgrounds and characters through costume,
lighting and filters combine to create deep psychological
meanings for the characters and emit effects on the viewer
The Meaning of Colour
 We are able to see several million different colours and
discern the minutest variances in colour. Human vision is
highly sensitive to differences in colour, texture, shape
and other pictorial properties.
 Contrasts within the image enable filmmakers to guide
the viewer’s eye to important parts of the frame.
However our language for colour is limited to around
eleven different shades.
 Meanings of colours are not intrinisic. They have no
universal meanings and are determined by historical and
social determinants.
 Different cultures have different understandings of
Film Analysis Color in Film

 1. Color as a filter:
 Color is used to tint the entire film or specific key scenes. This
can be to establish a mood or to create a subconscious
difference between places. This color is usually added after the
fact through processing or filtering and affects everything in the
shot equally.
 Three Colours Blue (1993 Krzysztof Kieslowski)
 Three Colors: Blue is the first part of Kieslowski's trilogy on France's national motto: Liberty, Equality,
and Fraternity. Blue is the story of Julie who loses her husband, an acclaimed European composer and
her young daughter in a car accident. The film's theme of liberty is manifested in Julie's attempt to start
life anew free of personal commitments, belongings grief and love. She intends to spiritually commit
suicide by withdrawing from the world and live completely independently, anonymously and in solitude in
the Parisian metropolis. Despite her intentions, people from her former and present life intrude with their
own needs. However, the reality created by the people who need and care about her, a surprising
discovery and the music around which the film revolves heals Julie and irresistably draws her back to the
land of the living.
2. Environmental color:
 Color is used in the props or scenery to create an atmosphere of heightened color.
 Objects (mis-en-scene) are selected to create a specific and recognizable color
 or palette. Usually the characters are not aware of this occurring.
 Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet- director, Bruno Delbonnel- cinematographer, 2001)
 Jeunet collected stories—some of his own; some told to him by other people—for 25
years. These stories were brought together to create the script for Amélie. Amélie is
Jeunet's first film shot on-location, so it is interesting The film intertwines destiny and
chance. Jeunet sees destiny and chance playing key roles even in the making of the
 Amélie sees things in a very childlike manner. Adult themes (like sexuality) are
presented almost in a childlike way. This is demonstrated in the way the film was
 Look for how this is conveyed through color. The characters each have an object that
is associated with them
 Jeunet states, “I believe that every shot should be a painting.” He uses a lot of green
and red and the occasional blue and yellow. What do these colors represent?
3. Color through costume:

 Costumes are designed to create color

contrast or symmetry between the characters
 and their environment. This balance can
change depending on dramatic development
 Colour can be used to establish a specific
character (e.g. character X always wears
4. Isolated color:

 Color used sparingly. This could be one colored character in an

otherwise black and white film or one character or scene that is
more or less saturated that the rest of the film.
 This is usually used symbolically, to isolate a specific type of
character or event from the actions of the rest of the film.
 Pleasantville (Gary Ross-writer and director, 1998)
 A brother and sister from the 1990s are sucked into their television
set and suddenly find themselves trapped in a 1950s style
television show. Here they have loving parents, old fashioned
values, and an overwhelming amount of innocence and naivete.
Not sure how to get home, they integrate themselves into this
"backwards" society and slowly bring some color to this black and
white world. But as innocence fades, the two teens begin to
wonder if their 90s outlook is really to be preferred.
5. Intensity of Colour

 The filmmaker like the painter, can also exploit the principle of colour
contrast to shape our sense of screen space.
 Bright colours set against a subdued background are likely to draw the
eye (Contrasting Colours) Schindlers List/The Red Balloon
 Warm colours attract attention
 cool colours are less prominent
 Limited Palette – a few noncontrasting colours
 monochromatic colour design Black and white films also rely on our
sensitivity to change in tonalities. The colour of setting, costumes,
lighting, and figures register on the film in shades of black, white, and
 THX – 1138 George Lucas 1971
6. Colour and Depth

 Colour differences also create overlapping planes.

By giving characters brighter coloured clothiung they
can stand out against more subdued backgrounds.
Colours are often given to characters to signify their
character. In Westerns Black hatted and suited
characters are often seen as villains
 Flattening and layering
 Stan Brakhage
Flicker Films
 'flicker films'–use film frames to generate
strobing effects and often utilise colour.
 Paul Sharitts – Shutter Interference 1995

 Len Lye - 1935 - A Colour Box

 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Walt Disney, 1937)
 The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
 Leave Her To Heaven (John Stahl, 1945)
 Ivan the Terrible Part II, colour sequence (Sergei Eisenstein, 1946)
 Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947)
 The River (Jean Renoir, 1950)
 Moulin Rouge (John Huston, 1953)
 Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
 Lola Montes (Max Ophuls, 1955)
 All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955)
 Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
 Poem of the Sea (Yulia Solntseva, 1958)
 Muriel (Alain Resnais, 1963)
 The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)
 The Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)
 Pierrot le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
 The Colour of Pomegranates (Sergei Paradjanov, 1969)
 Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972)
 Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
 Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou, 1991)