Last time I wrote about how much I love black & white movies and recommended a few titles. This time I’d like to talk about color movies. Because, yes, I love them, too.
I especially love movies that use color to tell or advance the story. In the early days of color films, producers and directors were like a kid with a new toy. They understood that the novelty of color was going to draw people into the theater, so they wanted to give the public a good show. As time went on and color was the norm for movies, it was taken for granted. Recently some movies have returned to an environment of black and white and gray – and red blood seems to be the only color in sight.
So here are some examples of early color films – and recent movies – that use color to tell a story or to take the viewer out of the ordinary and into another world.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) – Not just the U.S. first feature-length animated movies, it’s also the first to use a full spectrum of color. Still lovely to watch.
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – Errol Flynn was never more dashing and daring than when he wore green tights. Olivia de Havilland was never more beautiful than in the bright colors of her medieval gowns. Fun, adventurous, and exquisite to look at.
- The Wizard of Oz (1939) – Ruby Slippers. Yellow Brick Road. Emerald City. The green-faced Wicked Witch of the West. Need I say more?
- Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) – A musical story of one family’s life in 1903 St. Louis and the excitement of the 1904 World’s Fair. Their everyday adventures are beautifully photographed to show that even ordinary events are full of color and life.
- Pleasantville (1998) – A fantasy and gentle send-up of 1950s black & white television sitcoms. When two modern-day teens are transported to Pleasantville, they bring a different point of view – and color – into the lives of the citizens.
- Bride and Prejudice (2004) – Jane Austen meets Bollywood in this wonderful romantic comedy. The culture clash is emphasized by the bright, bold clothing of the Indian characters, in stark contrast with the monochrome outfits of the Americans. The musical number “A Marriage Has Come to Town” is a beautifully staged rainbow of color. (The entire movie is in English, not Hindi – so no worries if you don’t like reading subtitles.)
These are just a few of my favorites. Try them with an eye to how they use color. Any other movies you would include?