The Virgin Suicides

Kathleen Turner, James Woods, Kristin Dunst, Josh Hartnett. Directed by Sofia Coppola. Cinematography Edward Lachman Production Design Jasna Stefanovic. The living room of the Lisbon house is permeated by a sickly yellowish green, the kind of green that comes from not being exposed to enough light. In essence, it is a guardhouse of five vir ginal, about-to-bloom young sisters. The house becomes a metaphor for the parents' obsession with not allowing any light to come inside. The film is...

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One of the themes of this story is the making, blurring, and breaking down of boundaries. It is World War II and we have Japanese Americans who fight Germans, Americans who fight Japanese and Germans, and German-American landowners who renege on agreements made with Japanese Americans. And then we have a love between a Japanese girl, Hatsue (Youki Kudoh), and an American boy, Ishmael (Ethan Hawke), who, because of these boundaries and blurrings, suffer and are separated. If ever there was a...

Cross Reference

Each part has a home page, which describes the emotional and psychological influences we discovered about the color, and contains two chapters, each of which explores films that best illustrate those influences. Within these chapters, the color is divided into six characteristics that help to influence our emotional responses to the films. Some films use a color's transformation, or its flow, to support the evolution of the characters and story throughout the movie. Others have one...

Rosemarys Baby

Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer. Directed by Roman Polanski. Cinematography William Fraker Production Design Richard Sylbert. The titles are written in a pink script and a little girl's voice sings a la-la melody in the background. From the air, the camera moves over The Branford, a rather austere and foreboding-looking building. In reality, it is The Dakota, a sinister-looking landmark on Manhattan's upper West Side. It is also the place where John Lennon was...

Great Expectations

Ethan Hawke, Gywneth Paltrow, Anne Bancroft, Robert De Niro. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki Production Designer Tony Burrough. So obvious in its use of the color, this film is jokingly called Green Expectations by many filmmakers. Yet no major critic at the time mentioned the color's significance. Interesting in light of the fact that painter Finnegan Bell Ethan Hawke in the opening voiceover declares color to be a metaphor for subjective memory. There either...

Little Princess

Little Princess Ramayana Pictures

Liesel Matthews, Eleanor Bron, Liam Cunningham. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki Production Design Bo Welsh. This is a film where the use of color is obvious and subliminal at the same time. Two parallel stories are told one from an ancient Indian epic, the other from the time of World War I. Color brilliantly defines the sense of place for each. One is a golden fantasy, warm and magical the other is a stark, decaying atmosphere devoid of light. We are aware...

The Cider House Rules

See Red Apples and Orphans on page 108. In Racing with the Moon, the color of roses transforms a steel railroad car into a valentine to young lovers. Director Kenneth Branagh moved the location of Much Ado About Nothing from dry and dusty Sicily to take advantage of the marmalade-colored Tuscan light. jackets. That's your first clue, or warning. One of the reasons yellow is the color used for caution signs is that it's visually aggressive. It appears to come toward you. We've built it into our...

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Realized by many animators. Quite probably in 1937, these color choices were made intuitively. It's inspiring to see how nearly perfect they are. Nearly seventy years later, it's a different world one that sometimes needs a jog to our intuitive side. See Backstory. Don't underestimate the effect of the color choices in this movie. Of course, this tale is about the healing power of love, but it's also about the poisoning effects of jealousy. We have known that...

Racing with the Moon

Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, Elizabeth McGovern. Directed by Richard Benjamin. Cinematography John Bailey Production Design David L. Snyder. This is an often-overlooked jewel of a film set in the Pacific Northwest at the beginning of WWII. It's the last summer before Hopper Sean Penn and Nicky Nicola Cage go off to war, and it's love or the lack of it that propels the story. The movie captures both the innocence and sweetness of first love and the brutishness of first lust. Director Richard...