Nuance and intention in color design, from movies to our homes

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Sometimes a movie’s color theme is so pervasive I just can’t ignore it. Ever since I saw the 1998 version of Great Expectations, I’ve had my color-antennae on alert, and even though I’m a film fan anyway, it’s more enjoyable and interesting when I think about the color associations and what the director’s intentions might be.

What brings this topic to mind at this time is that an associate in the IACCNA recently sent a note about a book she’d discovered,   If it’s Purple, Someone’s Gonna Die.

Fascinating book about color in the theater and cinema

A fascinating book about color use in the theater and cinema

It reminds me of my experience with the green theme in that movie. Of course, I was not alone in noticing something so obvious as the fresh new spring-like green of early childhood and innocence; the more acid green of jealously and suspicion, and evolution to the poisonous black-filled green towards the end of the movie.

When I looked up “green in the movies” on the internet, I was surprised to see the range of responses that came up. Some people really had no idea why a color would be used in so many ways, while others were quite aware of the connection between color and our emotional responses.

When we use color in our own environments it can be with a similar intention even though the effect is less intense. After all, we’re actually living in our spaces, not just passing through for a couple of hours. For example, translate the different greens to use of blues. When I hear the phrase…”blue is relaxing,” I immediately want to ask, “what color blue?”  Is it  a clear cerulean “sky blue?”  Maybe electric neon blue, or the color of Atlantic depths.

WaterJust as the use of greens in that movie carried such a wide range of expressions, any color can be highly nuanced; there’s no finite recipe for color use.

But that’s part of the beauty of a color experience whether it’s through entertainment, literature, our own homes, or any of the myriad ways we can enjoy working with color.

Thanks to Lausanne Davis Carpenter for the tip about this book.

If you have theatrical color experiences  you’d like to share, please use our comments feature do to so.  You can also email your ‘home color experiences,’ for possible inclusion in future blog posts.


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