Films are a form art that involves a perfect blend of direction, casting, screenplay, dialogues, background score, visual graphics and many many more things. As important as its music or the background score are to a film, the lighting, aesthetic value and the appearance are on the same lines. This includes the very widely acclaimed concept of a Colour Palette that is used in every film.
Colour palettes are the order and shades of colours used in every frame of a film, very important for portraying the vibe of the film, setting up the mood, getting the audience comfortable and feel connected, the genre to be followed.
There is something known as ‘Colour Harmony’. It has been suggested that “Colours seen together to produce a pleasing affective response are said to be in harmony”. However, colour harmony is a complex notion because the human responses to colour areboth affective and cognitive, involving emotional response and judgement. Hence, our responses to colour and the notion of color harmony is open to the influence of a range of different factors. These factors include individual differences (such as age, gender, personal preference, affective state, etc.) as well as cultural, subcultural and socially-based differences which gives rise to conditioning and learned responses about colour. In addition, context always has an influence on responses about colour and the notion of colour harmony, and this concept is also influenced by temporal factors (such as changing trends) and perceptual factors (such as simultaneous contrast) which may impinge on human response to colour.
While, films use colours as a way to connect to us, doing it in a sense that captures our attention to the moment that is fleeting by in a scene.
With a few Bollywood movies like Barfi! and Saawariya, they follow a certain mood. Barfi had a happy, bright colour scheme that suited the character perfectly. Whenever his character hit a roadblock, the death of his father or being turned down by the woman he loved, the colours in the particular frame would narrate his feelings. For a character, that cannot communicate with words and only actions or facial expressions, colours play a major role and this particular film did its justice.
La La Land, the Oscar nominated film, also provided our eyes with a pleasing mix of colours. The four main colours that were followed throughout the entire movie were blue, red, yellow and green.
They more than made up for the jazz musical theme that the film was following. Without the visuals, a musical stands for nothing.
In my opinion, the use of colour hue and tone to help set mood is wonderful and important, when done sensitively, carefully, subtly. However, in many cases they go too extreme; it becomes too obvious, self-conscious and overused, clumsy. The same can be said for use of shadow and darkness. Gary Oldman’s Churchill was fabulous but I was extremely distracted by how dark the movie was visually to the point of wondering whether the projector light in the theater was malfunctioning. This over dark, under lit scene setting occurs in other films too often. Subtle details are lost, even major details could be difficult to see. While, the directors and lighting crew of older, mid 20th century noir films, were amazing in the delicate art of setting mood, a heavy handed approach to darkness and color to set mood is akin to shouting out your thoughts in all caps all the time. To be more sensitive, consciously obvious and less oppressive does the right amount that a film needs to be portrayed.