Monday, October 12, 2015

The Colors of Motion and The Godfather: Mostly Black

After Arturo briefly showed us the website The Colors of Motion in class today, I had to give it another look. The website basically breaks down the color palate of a film, making a sequential gradient that follows the color design of the film shot-by-shot. Of course, if you are just absolutely in love with a particular color breakdown, the website has poster-sized prints for sale. Oh, America. Anyways, I chose to take a closer look at one of my all-time favorite movies, The Godfather:

At first, it doesn't really seem to make much sense. Its just a bunch of colors. But you are able to click on each specific color, which brings up a still from that particular shot of the film. Pretty sweet.  It doesn't just have major shots or major scenes of the movie, it has every shot in the film. It takes into account every establishing shot, every cut away, and every close up. 

Just like the subject matter of the film, the color design of The Godfather is very dark. A lot of "earthy" tones come through in the films. Browns and greens dominant the color scheme, all very drab and unsaturated to mirror the somber mood of the traditional family crime syndicate stuck in a time of change in American culture. Oh, and of course all of the laundering, bribing, and murdering that takes place over the course of the film. 

 The iconic opening scene, mostly for its use of chiaroscuro lighting and slow rhythm that help to build tension and a sense of dominance in the scene. As far as the color design, it sticks pretty true to the overarching dark, earthy theme, except for the blood red rose positioned almost dead center in the frame:

Another example of the earthy, drab colors in The Godfather:

While The Godfather  might have its brief moments of color, it is clearly dominated by these heavy, dark tones that we associate with a crime drama. Even the portions of the narrative that take place in Italy, the farthest we ever get away from all of the murdering and crime have light browns and greens, consistent with the old Italian world in which the main character Michael is hiding in. 

The Colors of Motion website has a range of movies on it, from The Lion King to Se7en, each broken down by shot just like The Godfather. Seeing these color breakdowns lets you visual the color of a film in its entirety, and truly see how this subconscious element really does help to shape the story. Going forward,  I hope that the production design in Doll House will be an active element of the storytelling process. While not always blatantly evident, color certainly helps to tell the story. 

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