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Even before color film existed, filmmakers have been using color as a tool for
beauty and story telling and visual minded directors have created
color palettes almost as memorable as the films themselves.
So get out your paint samples and follow along, these are our picks for
the top ten best colored films of all time.
Kicking us off at number ten, let's just get it out of the way and
go full balls to the wall, crazy colorama with our first slot.
We're talking movies that are somewhere between a Skittles Taste The Rainbow
themed orgy, and a technicolor kaleidoscope acid trip.
The hyper-colorful films that really make us go wow,
are those like 'What Dreams May Come', 'Dick Tracy', 'The Cook, 'The Thief',
'His Wife and Her Lover', 'The Holy Mountain', 'Gate of Hell', 'Life of Pi',
and like everything "Bas Lerman's" ever directed.
But really, our pick's gotta be 'The Fall'.
- The only way to stop a when it's very beautiful and interesting.
- "Tarsem Singh", 'The Fall's' madman director took four years to meticulously
create this multicolored wonderland across 24 different
countries to an effect that "David Fincher" described as what would have
happened if "Andrei Tarkovsky" had made the 'Wizard of Oz'.
He employs color in every possible way, from the space-like
orange dunes of the location to the sky-high, blood-red-soaked funeral banner
of his set design to the primary color wheel costuming of his main cast.
But the most important part is that he does it for
good narrative reason, as a window into the vivid imagination of the little girl.
The excess is explained, it is grounded, and it is so beautiful.
Of course, more isn't always better, in fact, for the rest of our list,
we're looking at how filmmakers use less.
Creating a distinctive color look of a film often comes down to
building a beautiful, evocative pallet.
And building a pallet involves selecting a limited range of colors from the vast
assortment of all of those available, instead of just throwing them all at
the screen like a Home Depot paint aisle explosion.
Think "Tim Burton" in his darker work, we notice the colors he likes to use so
much because of all the other ones he avoids.
Or it can also create a gap, like in '500 Days of Summer', or 'American Beauty', or
the 'Red Shoes', where saving certain colors for moments and characters
lends those colors far more power than they might have with less of a vacuum.
"Mishima", 'A Life in Four Chapters", limits its palette for different segments.
'The Aviator' limits it to mimic the two strip and
three strip color processes of the era.
And 'Do The Right Thing' painted everything, including its buildings,
red and orange to contribute to the feeling of a heat wave.
However, for our number nine pick we loved the look of O Brother,
Where Art Thou?, and its milestone history to boot.
- The color guard is colored.
- "Roger Deakins", 'O Brother's' cinematographer,
set out to create a dusty, vintage, storybook type of look for 'O Brother,
Where Art Thou?', and spent nearly three weeks in the film lab mucking about with
various photochemical processes to no avail.
You see, "Deakins'" palette was meant to specifically avoid green, but they'd shot
in Mississippi in mid-summer which looked, as he described it, greener than Ireland.
So he turned to digital color grading, a mainstay in modern features, but
a never before used technology at the time, and changed film color history and
the look is incredible.
All the lush greens and blues of the mid-summer south are transformed into
yellows and oranges and browns and burnt ochers,
evoking a dusty autumn feel without just tinting everything sepia.
It's a more controlled refined look that comes from singling out and
affecting some colors while leaving the others alone.
(Noise) Moving into more specific color palettes that come from limiting colors in
predictable ways, the first and
most obvious is the selected saturation palette.
This is limited to the extreme, everything is in black and white except for
a focal object that gets the most vivid of color.
This was actually one of the earliest forms of color on film back when colors
were only achieved by stenciling on the stock, think the 'Great Train Robbery'.
'Pleasantville' makes this a part of its narrative while,
while 'Schindler's List' uses it to heart-wrenching emotional effect.
However, for our slot, we think that 'Sin City's' color is pretty hard to beat.
'Sin City' takes the color grading process of ' Brother Where Art Thou?' and
dials it up beyond 11.
It uses color so sparingly, that they take on a massive emotional and
narrative significance.
The decision to include any one color is so clearly intentional,
that the audience has no choice but to snap to attention.
Inspired by the art style of "Frank Miller's" comic,
'Sin City's' use of color is more akin to graphic design than photography, and
it makes for one of the most extreme possible examples of a limited palette.
Next up in color palettes,
slightly less limited than the selective saturation is the monochrome palette and
it's pretty simple, as far as colors go, you just get one.
Sure, maybe you deviate in brightness or saturation a little bit, but
you pick a spot on the color wheel and stick with it.
It's used by design in 'Buried',
naturalistically in "Kieślowski's" 'Three Colours Trilogy', Intolerance used
revolutionary monochromatic tinting to separate out its timelines.
While 'Hero' is probably the most iconic and
readily accessible example of this over and over and in every different way.
But we've picked it enough times on our list that we're gonna keep looking.
In its place, we're making room for a film we don't talk enough about 'Citizen Kane',
no I'm just kidding, I couldn't even finish it.
Our number seven slot is actually going to 'Cries and Whispers'.
- (Foreign) - Now, our last few slots
have gone to films leveraging the digital intermediate technology of the 2000s, but
good color has been around long before the turn of the millennium.
You see, before colorists had digital trickery, production designers and
cinematographers controlled color the old fashioned way, through meticulous design.
Films can follow just as strict a palette by carefully selecting and
coordinating the costuming, location choices, set design, makeup and
lighting and 'Cries and Whispers' does just that.
Beyond a few relieving scenes of green and yellow,
everything in 'Cries and Whispers' takes place in a world that is blood red.
"Bergman" famously said all of my films can be thought of in terms of black and
white except 'Cries and Whispers' and you can see why.
The overwhelming pervasiveness of the crimson has such a moving effect like
a sensory deprivation tank of color that you can't help but be emotionally moved.
Adding one more color into the mix, next we get to the complementary color scheme.
You take one color and combine it with its opposite, and
boom, you've got yourself a scheme that's automatically compelling.
It's the source of the ever popular, every frustrating orange-teal
Hollywood blockbuster look, which look we get it, it's fun to complain about and
it can definitely get stale if used to the exclusion of all else.
But filmmakers use it for
a reason, it's color contrast that best emphasizes the look of human skin.
'Mad Max Fury Road' is maybe our favorite example of this contrast, but
you can also spin the color wheel further and get to less common contrasts.
Yellow and purple, as in 'The Curse of the Golden Flower' and the very difficult,
red-green, most notable in "Amelie", 'The City of Lost Children' and our pick for
number six, 'Vertigo'.
- The color of your hair.
- No!
- There's hardly a film that used technicolor so
brilliantly as 'Vertigo' and there's perhaps no other film that evokes
such a strong impression of a color palette as does its red and green.
Red for caution and green for envy.
Red for Scottie and green for Madeleine and
the color scheme is felt even in scenes of its absence.
The lack of these powerful colors feels like a lack of powerful emotion.
It's a color scheme so memorable, we actually feel it when it's gone,
which makes it a must include on this list.
Adding in even more colors, we wind up in triadic and tetradic color schemes and
in their most extremes lands you somewhere between a "Pete Mondrian" painting and
a game of 'Twister'.
But they can make for effective color schemes, ones that tend to seem fun and
carefree and stereotypically colorful.
Films like 'A Clockwork Orange',
'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown', 'The Last Emperor',
'Kurasawa's Dreams' and 'The Umberellas of Cherbourg' all live within this world.
However, if there's a film that does it best, we think it's "Godard's" 'Contempt'.
- (Sound) That's what I think of that stuff up there.
- "Godard" has always had a love affair with colors.
And in 'Contempt', they find their expression in the triadic colored red,
blue, yellow that establishes itself early on and
then saturates the screen to greater or lesser extents.
But they are never overbearing or garish, instead they are beautiful and striking
and thoughtful and memorable, orchestrated by a master to masterful effect.
Of course, color palettes don't always come from limiting hues.
Sometimes focusing on some specific lightnesses or
saturations can produce a stunning cinematic effect as well.
For our number four, we wanna look at a more recent trend,
that of the neon palette.
Keep your colors bright and ultra saturated, and you might wind up with
the in your face Tokyo shop front aesthetic of 'Springbreakers',
'Enter The Void', 'Suspiria', or our number four pick, 'Only God Forgives'.
- Take it off!
- There's very little middle ground in "Nicolas Winding Refn's" odd and
challenging followup to 'Drive', the screen is either black or
bathed in a neon glow.
Reds, blues, lime greens, teals, yellows, pinks, purples, and
brilliant oranges all find their place in mostly monochromatic compositions.
But what's consistent across the film is that there is no subtle, gentle color,
it is harsh and unnatural, violent and uncaring, like much of the plot.
But it's certainly striking and definitely one of the best incarnations of what seems
to be a popular contemporary aesthetic in our 21st century digital world.
Of course, if you dial the colors way back and stay away from the extreme of
lightness and darkness, you end up with the pastel aesthetic.
They're neutral, milky a little washed out with a relaxed feeling and
a storybook quality.
There's a notable pastel look to 'Floating Weeds', 'The Danish Girl' and
'The Shining', but "Wes Anderson" is really the master here.
He's been developing the highly curated pastel look ever since 'Rushmore' but
come on, has he ever done it better than 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'?
- You're looking so well darling, you really are.
They've done a marvelous job, I don't know what sort of cream they've put on
you down at the morgue, but I want some.
The 'Grand Budapest Hotel' is pretty much the opposite of 'Only God Forgives',
soft, gentle, forgiving colors.
Never neon, rarely primary, often peculiar, and difficult to name.
"Anderson" doesn't use yellow so much as mustard, not pink so much as rose,
not red so much as burnt amber.
There's a sophistication to his color choices that is, and
we name this lovingly, a little bit hipster.
But his odd color tastes tend to both connect his work into a greater oeuvre and
find unique expression in each individual piece.
But they're so lovingly chosen and
precisely expressed in every detail that you absolutely have to
appreciate them even as we make fun of them at every possible turn.
Depressing the palette even more, lowering the saturation
even further while hovering just above grey, going murkier and darker and
staying away from red, you end up with the muted palate.
This can look like a simple desaturation as in 'The Road', or
a whole computer look when tinted green as in 'The Matrix'.
It's the favorite of post-apocalyptic films, but
it has its place in society as well as in our number two pick,
"Roy Andersson's" mad genius 'The Living Trilogy'.
- (Foreign)
- Micke Larsson.
- No.
- "Andersson's" color is so subtle yet
so meticulously controlled that we can't help but admire it.
Starting with 'Songs >From The Second Floor', moving on to 'You,
The Living', and culminating in 'A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence',
"Roy Andersson" has created a world of the beautiful mundane with such
elaboration and vision that is wholly unique and immediately recognizable.
Much like "Wes" in his playful twee finding expression in his pastel palette,
"Andersson" accomplishes the unimaginable,
expressing his tragic comic humor in his color-scape.
With obsessively crafted sets built over years, designed for as little contrast as
possible and lit with no shadows, that we do exactly what he was setting out for
us to do, peer into the details, look deeper and see more.
Finally, for our last palette, the darker,
deeper, richer version of the pastel palette with spikes
of saturation around very specific colors, we have the jewel-toned look.
'This is Fanny' and Alexander' and 'Lola Montes' and 'Anna Karenina'.
It's hard to describe but it's rich and supple and gorgeous without looking
manufactured, it blends in as naturalistic even when it's catching the eye.
For our favorite version of this,
we have no qualms giving it to 'In the Mood for Love'.
- (Foreign) - What can we say about 'In the Mood for
Love' that we haven't already?
It is a beautiful film in every possible sense of the word, stylized yet tasteful,
subtle yet bold.
His colors are without over obvious symbolism or
binary meaning, instead working for emotional effect.
They create a world, its characters, the feeling and the mood.
There is heartache in the redness of billowing curtains, longing in the magenta
of a lipstick stained cigarette, irony in the vivid green of a dress.
"Wong Kar-wai" and "Christopher Doyle" are visual color masters, and
'In the Mood' is their finest work, breathtaking and beautiful beyond measure,
which is why it's our pick for the Best Colored Film of all Time.
What do you think?
Do you disagree with any of our picks?
Did we leave out any of your favorite colored films?
Don't say 'Gone With The Wind'.
We know we left out 'Gone With The Wind'.
But otherwise, let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe for
more Cinefix movie lists.



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浚祺蘇 2017 年 6 月 24 日 に公開
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