Everything seems more beautiful on screen—even the gore and grit of a film are amplified in post production allowing for it’s translation on screen to visually embrace and stimulate the viewer more than an image of similar caliber would do so in real life. It’s no surprise, then, that color editing and lighting are currently fields of extreme relevancy with a wide range of photographers anywhere from Petra Collins, known for her gauzy portrayal of young women, to Steven Klein, famous for his brutal depiction of high fashion, experimenting with lighting and color toning in their images.
Cinema, a longtime friend of photography, often holds its hand through the evolution of its imaging trends which lands it at a current point of similar color emphasis and experimentation. The color saturation and lighting of an image, or a moving image for the likes of this article, have become especially relevant in the latter half of the last century with filmmakers like Wong Kar Wai and others carving out a niche group for their uniquely colorful films.
Here are some films that share a unique emphasis on their cinematography and coloring, in no particular order.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s romantic comedy that incorporates a wide pallet of primary colors and their tertiary brothers. The film is hilariously quirky and upliftingly colorful, featuring characters who possess much more depth in unspoken sentiments than in what is outspoken in the film.
2. Lost in Translation
Quite the opposite mood to the prior film, Sofia Coppola cultivates a very particular feeling in all her films. Lost in Translation pins a disconnectedness mingled with forlorn sense of resignation—it’s most powerful point being its ability to capture both without bordering on despair. With a collection of warm, hazy colors and soft focusing Coppola creates a very intimate atmosphere within the realm of film that quietly reflects the emotional state of solace both characters seek, and briefly find with each other.
3. HerMany have written regarding the relation between Her and Lost in Translation, reflecting of the seemingly purposeful fluidity and conversation between both plots. Whether or not there is any certifiable tie is up in the air, but it’s notable that both films share a similar color palette of skin toned blends and red-pink hues. Her, being the more surreal of the duo. It’s a subdued but powerful plot on human sadness and the lengths we go to, to find companionship and mitigate our loneliness.
4. In the Mood for LoveStills for this film are as beautiful as the film itself—each still could be an individual photograph in an exhibition. The whole film seems drenched in silky red wine as the set make up and coloring all resound a deep burgundy. One of Wong Kar Wai’s early hits, In the Mood for Love is a tender masterpiece and a Wong Kar Wai classic about the confusion and in congruencies in love.
5. My Blueberry NightsHopping on the train of moody colors and lost lovers Wong Kar Wai’s more recent film, My Blueberry Nights, is another cinematic masterpiece lacking only slightly in storyline. Nevertheless, the slightly mundane and overused story line is redeemed by the beautiful cinematography.
6. DaisiesThrowing back to the 60’s Daisies is the less color enhanced of this collection, but equally as immersive in it’s set props and make up which render it just as colorful and diverse. The specificity and detail in each frame is as astounding and revolutionary as the subtle content in the film. Worth a watch.
7. Scorpio RisingOn this similar streak of older movies, Kenneth Anger’s 1964 short film/music installment, Scorpio Rising, is an explosive look into the rowdy biker-gang lifestyle of the 60’s. The film makes up for it’s lack of conversation with a great soundtrack that sets the mood for the film’s violent yet arguably redemptive nature.
Following the brutally violent streak, Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream explores drug addiction and it’s repercussions in a gorily realistic manner co-mixing it with spurts of brutally imaginative sub-scenarios. Limb-dismemberments, sex-trade orgies and psychiatric hospitals are all included in the formula. This film is a true cruel masterpiece.
9. Blue VelvetDavid Lynch portrays love in a sadomasochistic manner in Blue Velvet, a film famous for being risqué both in terms content and cinematography. Mixing a sensual murder plot with the sexual curiosity of a young man Lynch dyes the whole film in a hue of deep blues and purples further amplifying the sexual undertones already present.
10. Night on Earth
Perhaps a quite finish, Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth is a beautifully human take on the individual occurrences in taxi cabs around the world at the twilight hour. Documenting private lives that are both laughably heart wrenching and coincidental he captures small glances of the human condition, completely unaware, and in full force.