Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Color in Mad Max: Fury Road

The toxic storm at the end of act one, and one of my favorite shots of the whole movie.
Over fall break, I flew to California on a United flight. (It wasn't great... The flight, I mean). However, I did have an excuse to watch a movie that I really liked when I saw it this summer, Mad Max: Fury Road. The Mad Max films are set in a post-apocalyptic Australia where a former cop named Max essentially loses every person in his life he cares about and switches into survival mode. Mel Gibson stars as Max in the first three films, Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, released from 1979 to 1985. In the Mad Max world, pretty much everything has turned to dust literally, the currency is oil and bullets, and the world is running dangerously low on food and water.

This guy was my favorite. <3
This time around I chose to focus on the colors in the film. I noticed many shots with orange and blue.

Like Cole wrote in his blog, I also used the The Colors of Motion website to look more closely at the colors and sure enough, it wasn't just me, it was a lot of orange and blue.

Part of this was obvious to me. Orange and blue are complementary colors, which means that when placed in close proximity, they contrast. In films, contrasting colors are important because they draw your attention to different things on the screen. You might remember learning about complementary colors when you learned about the color wheel in elementary school art class.

Color grading has been around for a while now, but the Coen brothers are credited for starting the orange and teal trend in their 2000 movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? Since then, more and more films have used this complementary color palette when color grading. It's especially common in action movies because explosions are typically bright orange. Since it's become a convention, one theory suggests that it is used to make movies look more like movies. Another theory suggests that digitization in color grading made it easier to apply a uniform color scheme to multiple scenes at once. This then speeds up the process for color graders. A blogger named Todd Miro suggests that we just love seeing the contrast of orange and blue on screen.

Lots and lots of orange and blue in these movie posters.

Once you notice this trend in one film, you see it in a lot of other movies. I presume this trend will eventually become less common and a different color scheme will be used. I have no idea how long this will take, so I guess I'll just have to get used to seeing orange and blue for now.

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