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Colors Theory and Practice

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Good morning, today's lecture is all about color, and these are the key concepts that we will be talking about; what is color and some aspects of colors. So, we all know what colors are, but here we will be looking at theories is in a very general sort of way. So, tint what is the tint? Shade, what is the color value? Saturated and unsaturated colors. When did Technicolor begin? What is the symbolism implicit in color schemes? Do colors have a spatial temporal value? How do filmmakers make use of colors in films? How is color used as a device in the progression of the narrative? We have been doing; cinema is all about narrative unless you consider Andy Warhol’s films. So, we know what cinema is all about and it is basically a narrative; there should be a narrative and how filmmakers make use of colors to tell a story. I begin with a quote by Maxim Gorky, the renowned Russian author, the creator of Mother. And he first watched the movie, the short filmby Lumiere Brothers; it could have been workers leaving the factory, the Lumiere factory,we were talking about in the other day and he commence on the grayness of a cinematic world.He says ‘everything there, the earth, the trees, the people, the water, and theair is dipped in monotonous grey. Grey rays of the sun across the grey sky, grey eyesin grey faces and the leaves of the trees are ashen grey’. And that is how cinemawas in its beginning, at the time when it is started; it just developed initially,there was no color, everything was in shades of grey. Colors hold a powerful position amongthe elements of the story structure, as we were just talking about narrative.It is not like just introducing a splash of color to make someone look beautiful, it isnot like that, colors do have a meaning. For example the British movie, Peeping Tom isextremely important if you want to understand how colors are used. Peeping Tom is all about,filmmaker who is obsessed with the idea of capturing dying people on camera.Colors speak a universal language. Do you need any explanation here?Everyone understands what is blue, what is grey, what is black and what is white.In most cultures white signify?Moaning?A peace, perhaps a peace.Black on the other hand?Moaning, also a formal occasion.Red; could mean several things in several cultures. So, colors speak a language.Colors contribute towards the aesthetics of a film; I mean watch ‘Saawariya’ for instance and colors dohave a say, in the aesthetic, determining the aesthetics of the film.Colors act to the mood. Colors often delineate characters; why do we say that;colors delineate characters.A subdued character will wear subdued colors, not bright fluorescent colorwhereas someone who is shown to be extremely bubbly will always wear something more bright.Generally in films when it is sober girl she is usually dressed in shades of pastels; white,half white and lighter shades, whereas the more mysterious, the more naughty girl, wouldalways be dressed in bright shades especially the bright shades of pink.So, colors delineate characters, you are supposed to understand that we have been told something.Key theoretician of colors are, we were talking about realism and Rudolf Arnheim the otherday, David Bodwell and Christen Thompson, Sergei Eisenstein and Derek Jaman who is alsoa filmmaker; Edward The Second, British filmmaker.So, Rudolf Arnheim has written an essay1935 is called ‘Remarks on Color Film’, and he tells you about his experience withwatching a color film for the first time and says ‘people of taste have considered thecolors in color film atrocious, when colors first began to make their presence felt,this is atrocious; many have thought them unnatural’. So, what he is trying to actually question,are colors realistic?Do colors contribute in any way towards lending a touch of realism to cinema?There is the question of realism and when filmmakers want to give the touchof surrealism then we know what colors they use, so we are going to discuss that also.So, colors do have a relationship with the concept of realism.This movie let us think of The Wizard of Oz, we are not in kansas anymore.So, a kansas is in shades of monochromatic shades of grey and sepia tone, whereas the moment Doorthyis out of kansas state; her world turns into a colorful world, a fantasy world.So, colors signify fantasy, an escape.Invention of Technicolor in the 1930's. So, this is the background of colors.Doctor Herbert and Natalie Klaus inventedsomething called Three-strip Technicolor and gave us shades of yellow, orange and blue.And this was an expensive process; Technicolor I mean if you look at some of the old movie posters,you will find a small by-lined, colored by Technicolor and you would often wonder;what does it means color by Technicolor. That means, that Technicolor was a patent and theseare the primary colors they used, they employed, it was very expensive process; and soon gaveway to the more affordable Eastmancolor.Does anyone know the difference between Technicolor and Eastmancolor?What happens to films when they are shot in Technicolor or and when theyare shot in Eastmancolor?Student: Eastmancolor is shot in color, whereas Technicolor is later post production technique.I would rather stick to the economics of itat this point; as you have been already told Technicolor was an expensive process but itwas more lasting process. So, film shot in Technicolor are still around, whereas filmshot in Eastmancolor had to be retouched and redone at some stage.Martin Scorsese, great film director, he has often funded projects where colors are restored.We often hear films are being restored.How, what is being done to them? It is the color that we talk about.So, from Technicolor to Eastmancolor, the transition was to make the process of cinema,film making cheaper, but was it really; because we could feel that many filmsgot destroyed in the process, they did not have that sense of longevity, so therefore, the trouble.The first feature film in Technicolor was Becky Sharp; a revisiting of which movie, which novel?Becky Sharp is the memorable character from?Literature's’ students? Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, Becky Sharp is a character.Technicolor was the smoother and more subtle shade of Eastmancolor.And we are often as we just talking about that Eastmancolor fade awayvery quickly and in the long run they lose the relationship between each other.So, therefore, they need to restore film shot in Eastmancolor.Any questions any comments here?So, terms some basic concepts related to colors, value; color value is proportion of lightor dark in color, basically when we talk about white and black and white films.Tint; tint is the lighter shade. Suppose, you have grey as the standard shade, and then the lightershade becomes; so when we want it to be of lighter shades we call it as tint.But if you want it to be of darker shade then it is a shade, shade is darker than the normal value.Other two terms that we should define here with are Saturated and Desaturated.De-saturated are more muted bleached-out colors.Saturated colors are unadulterated and strong.And when filmmakers want to project a surrealist tendency on screen, they resort using saturated colors.We are going to see examples soon.Saturated red, redder then red, American Beauty.And is there are symbolic values here?Passion, lust, betrayal, murder, many emotions, a state of mind.Literature's students should be familiar with the concept of expressionism and natural colors.So, likewise you should, perhaps you can take down the term expressionism and lookit up; how colors and color scheme was an important part of expressionism and from whichwe get the concept of saturated colors. So, saturated green and saturated red and saturated grey,I would advise you to take a look at some particular scenes from Natural Born KillersOliver Stones’; where green signifies many things to many people, to some it may suggestsfertility, health, at the same time it could also mean catastrophic, envy, poison, puss even.Old Boy is in shades of green and blues. Watch Old Boy we will be talking about thatfilm quite frequently in this course. So, effects of color what do, what does color do to us?When objects needs attention, filmmakers resort to using three dimensions of color,to substantiate my point I would like you to do visit a movie called Insomnia,Christopher Nolan’s, Al Pacino and Robin Williams; please watch the scene where aAl Pacino is on a trail of this killer. He never finds, but he by mistake he shoots orby mistake or by intent he shoots his partner dead,and look at the shades and various dimensions of the shades.There are various objects all in the shades of grey, the misty fog, the snowand the rocks and the pebbles. So, grey acts to add a kind of dimension to the objects around.In the same scene you also feel the temperature.You cannot have the tactile sense while watching the movie, but there are certain scenes whichtry to evoke a sense of odor is worked in a movie like Perfume; perfume is a very difficultmovie to translate on screen, if you have read perfume, Patrick Suskind’s novel,it is all about someone who deals, specializes in creating different smells and sense.But it is very difficult to project that on screen, you can write novel about it, but not how to.So, the film succeeds on some levels and fails on some other level but that is different story.So, temperature, evoking temperature through color, sun shines, snow, fog etcetera.Colors lend a touch of poignancy, for example think Schindler’s List, Steve Spielberg.There is a tinge of red, and when does that red happen?A small girl passes by, and then the same girl latter we realized is killed during whole of cause period.So, red means something to the protagonist.The entire scene is in black and white, the film is in black and black and white, but the girl; the littlegirl and the hero has just fleeting glimpse of that little girl in red coat, it is a beautiful scene,very poignant, so to evoke a sense of poignant.Atmosphere; Old Boy we were just talking about, stalk shades of blue, green perhaps red.Creating an atmosphere, there are no light tones, except at the endwhen he erases his memory, remember?Colors are also used to create symbolism, for example in a film like Edward Scissorhands.How many of you familiar with that? You smile, that means, it means something to you.Heard of it? Johnny Depp’s Edward Scissorhands, how many of you have watched that movie?Edward Scissorhands, please watch it, make it up point to watch most of these Tim Burton, Johnny Deppcollaborations and you will find some new technique, some new device taking place.This is one of the earliest examples of their collaboration.And what does Johnny Depp play in the movie?He is a robot, created by a crazy isolated scientist in an isolated tower,almost like a fairy tale, once upon a time the movie begins that was; there was a place like this.So, the robot was created by a scientist in a castle. And one day andthis beautiful robot as played by Johnny Depp; is very lovingly constructed or created byhis maker, you know like turning the Frankenstein legend on its head, this is the very innocent,very pretty monster. But what happens tragically, that as the scientist is giving finishingtouches to this robot, he has the heart attack and he died. So, he cannot give proper skinto the robot and proper hands because they are scissors for his hands originally andthat remains, because the scientist could not complete the job, and he died before doing that.So, you are left with this robot, who hasbeen given the right heart but not the right body. So, the story after that several thingshappened and the robot is brought into the real world from his world of castles and verygothic world, very unreal world; he is brought down to a more real suburban world and thenwhat colors do we see. All the houses are practically uniformed, painted in shades ofprimary colors; red, yellow, green almost like candies, excessively bright and it givesyou an impression that something is wrong with this world. Things cannot be this bright,this cheerful, and this sunny. So, that is what the filmmaker is trying to alert usto that suburban life, the light which is to conformist cannot be all that normal andhere this world is contrasted with the world of our robot, who is always dressed in shades of,always dressed in the same costume; that is black leather, giving him that in the rock star,punks star kind of a feel and also someone who is absolutely out of place, a misfit inthis suburban, idealized suburban world.It is a beautiful movie do watch it.Three kings; Mark Wahlberg, George Clooney, David o Russell is the director and watch the film orthe way it is shot, it is all about the gulf war; but you look at how he uses documentary footage,he uses jump cuts, we have been talk about those elements, quick cuts, jump cuts andbleached out color schemes. That kind of schemes we just watched and justwe were discussing in relation to Traffic by Steven Soderbergh.Colors are sometimes used to create a painterly effect;Kurosawa’s dream, Kurosawa was a master painter, Satyajit Ray was a master painter.Some of their sets appear as if these are paintings. M. F. Hussain’s films,if you watch Meenakshi for instance, you did watch Meenakshi, watch Meenakshi andyou will feel, you know it is a line up great paintings there.Mulholland Drive; two girlsand look at the stalk differences in colors, lets us talk about.How do color, we were just talking about colors delineate characters, what is happening here?Student: Red lipstick Red lipstick, ok fine. Dark eye brows, dark hair,blond hair two girls; one has blond hair, lighter shades of makeup, lighter clothesand the other girl red and black, dark colors, dark hair, bright lipstick, bright makeup.So, visual effect is created to delineate characters. You can think of any number of examples.Mulholland Drive is by David Lynch and another movie by David Lynch is The Blue Velvet.Again it begins, very deceptively with shades of bright cheerful colors.Why?Again American suburbs,the suburban so called suburban utopia subverted in so many films,including a very recent one by Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road, Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio.So, suburban is not what it appears or whatit claims to be, it is not utopian idealized heaven. The reality is something else andthat is what David Lynch tries to tell you. So, Blue Velvet begins with bright cheerfulsunny shades and tones of colors, but then it starts gradually begins to get darker,because the theme itself is so dark. Watch it for Dennis Horpers and Isabella Rossellini.Colors helping as a narrative device;Zhang Yimou’s which film?Chinese film, Hero.Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Jet Li and several major Chinese film stars.It was released worldwide by Quentin Tarantino in 2002because he was totally blown away by the aesthetics of the film.So, Hero use a tripartite color scheme. Again it is a story told from multipleperspectives; we have been talking about the concept of multiple perspectives when we werediscussing narratives, remember? So, Kurosava’s which movie? Rashomon and Zhang Yumos’ Hero,and another important story; this is just a digression, film often telling multipleor showing multiple perspectives while telling a narrative is Vantage Point.Watch Vantage Point; it is another remarkable film especially for its story telling.Same event is repeated several times, repetition is the very key concept in narratives you should know that.So, Hero employs red and gold color schemesfor some portions, then blue then white and pale green dominant.And colors are not just used here indiscriminately;they denote something more, what it is; time, passage of time temporality.So, we were just talking about special temporal effects of color. So, in Hero colors areused to suggest time, passage of time. So, this story was told at a different point.It was another period and then something else and then. So, therefore, the color schemefollows the temporal scheme. So, shades of pale green and blue and white, and interestinglythe film ends in white. And I quote Sergei Eisenstein here who in his selected works,he says, different countries have different notions of color; white is a color of moaningfor the Chinese, so it is not always symbolic of peace as it would be in many other cultures,but here in Chinese culture it is the color of moaning. And why does Hero ends on ashade of white; because most of the protagonists died while fighting for the kingdom.