Movies & TV

Watch: The Best Uses of Color in Movies

From the dusty O Brother, Where Art Thou? to the hipster pastels of Wes Anderson.
IMAGE Fox Searchlight Pictures

Few people likely walk out of a movie and comment on the palette chosen by the director off the color wheel. Those conversations are typically reserved for art classes or nerdy film forums. But color, whether it is immediately noticeable or not, is a storytelling device that is exhaustively planned by any competent filmmaker.

This conversation can be as simple as: The dress in Schindler's List was red and the rest was black and white. Or it can be more technical and nuanced, like in the case of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, where the cinematographer first used digital color grading to remove the green and then coated the film in dust. These effects, as explained in Cinefix's latest video, are done by picking select colors to enhance. Wes Anderson very intentionally picks colors that make his movies look like a fuzzy, pastel hipster dreamland. And Alfred Hitchcock used opposite colors on the wheel in Vertigo to dress his characters in red for caution and green for envy.


Or you can be like Michael Bay and paint every movie the beautiful color of fiery explosions.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for
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