Cinema & filmmaking

What Does Each Color Mean in Cinema?

Find out what emotions are provoked by each of the colors most used in your favorite films, and apply them to your projects

Cinema acts upon us in ways that are both conscious and unconscious: art direction and subsequent color grading, for example, are used to construct a universe of a particular color, related to the theme and intentions of the film. Because, yes, each color awakens very different feelings in us, whether we realize it or not. So, with the help of photographer Nay Jiménez (@nayjimenez), we propose a selection of colors and their respective meanings, so that you can apply them when analyzing your favorite films or take them into account for your own audiovisual projects.

Ah! And don't forget: in this case, we're talking about movies... but the different psychological effects that all these colors generate are not limited to the cinema, but are found in all visual arts for thousands of years. This set of emotions can also be applied to disciplines ranging from painting to embroidery, to interior design or branding.

Red

Traditionally, red has been associated with intense and uncontrollable feelings: love and romantic passion, violence, danger, rage or ambition for power are themes that are often associated with this color. In general, as we see, it is related to the forbidden, the controversial, the sexual... so it will be very present in violent or passionate stories, romantic or otherwise.

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Pink

Pink has traditionally been associated with the feminine, although this was not always the case and is also a connection that seems to be changing in recent times. Some recent filmmakers, such as Harmony Korine and her film Spring Breakers, have been working to re-classify this tone. In any case, it is usually associated with the female universe and with innocence, sweetness, playfulness, empathy or beauty.

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Orange

Orange is the color of sunrise but also of sunset, so it combines sensations associated with the concept of a new day (youth, friendship, warmth, sociability) and others closer to memory and nostalgia. In general, however, it is a happy and positive tone, that can also reminds us of exotic and idyllic landscapes.

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Yellow

Yellow is also a contradictory color, which depending on the context and the type of film can mean very different things. It can be associated with madness and illness, insecurity or obsession, but also with the idyllic and the innocent. This is one of Wes Anderson's favorite colors, as he is an expert at combining apparently innocent plots with truly problematic characters and feelings.

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Green

Another color that depends a lot on the context. Although the quickest association you will think of is that of nature (forests, idyllic landscapes), it is also often associated with corruption, the dangerous, and the sinister. It is no coincidence that many villains are associated with green, from Malefica to Lord Voldemort.

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Blue

One of the most cerebral and rational colors, blue is usually associated with calm and introspection. Introspection can be both positive and negative, let's not forget. Traditionally, it has also been associated with the divine, probably due to its presence in the skies and seas, so it is also used for epic stories related to the meaning of life, as is the case in 'The Truman Show'.

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Purple

Similar to blue but more related to fantastic or supernatural elements, purple and associated colors (lilac, violet, etc.) are usually used in relation to ethereal and mystical themes. However, they are also linked to eroticism and mystery, probably because they combine the enigma of blue tones with the warmth and sexuality of other warmer tones.

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