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Colors of La la Land


Color is something that's all around us every day, but how much do we pay attention to it? Some artists who study the theory of color may realize to how it interacts with itself and its environment, but most people don't realize how significant the usage of color may be. While analyzing color may not be a priority in our daily lives, its usage is significant in many art forms. An excellent example is how The Director of "La La Land", Damien Chazelle uses colors to enhance storytelling, and I will use the award-winning movie as an example to elaborate on the topic, hopefully without giving too many spoilers.


  Color theory is an important device artists can use to enhance communication with the audience. Different colors can have different meanings; the hue, saturation, and the place of colors on the color wheel relative to each other all matter. All these can be used to make people feel different emotions and convey messages in movie making.


  There is quite a bit of homage paid to Hollywood throughout the musical movie La La Land. One example is that it was made to look technicolor, which is a technique used to give vibrant and saturated colors to movies since the first half of the 20th century. However, the vibrant colors serve other purposes than giving a Hollywood-like effect.



   The musical takes place in LA and follows the two main characters in their journey of struggling to pursue their dreams, finding the balance of creativity and reality, and falling in love. The opening number of the musical, "Another Day of Sun", is quite upbeat with lyrics about life in LA. The song essentially introduces the setting of the movie. Clashes of especially red, blue, and yellow can be observed through the clip, and most of the colors are vibrant.

In fact, they are so vibrant that the scenes seem unreal, detached from the real world around them, and unable to convey a specific emotion. Some clips look like they were painted by a kid who tried to use all the crayons in the pack; as pleasant as it looks, it's unrealistic.



On the contrary, we can observe less colorfulness (or less saturation), or secondary colors like orange, green, and purple, where the scenes get more focused on the main characters, more realistic, or emotional.


Even if the audience doesn't outright recognize this change, the use of colors emphasizes the difference between dreams and reality and gives a better sense of what's happening throughout the movie.




  Complementary colors, which are colors on the opposite ends of the hue spectrum, also play an important role. We see the female lead more in blues, while the male lead is usually surrounded by reddish colors(the use of purple when the two are at the peak of their relationship is also notable) At times, blue represents the reality the two characters face, and red represents their passions. In my opinion, blue and red are used together when they're faced with reality and dreams intermixing, rather than clashing.





Saturation is a mostly overlooked aspect, but it plays a great role in representing the change in characters during the movie. The female lead starts with much more vibrant colors which progressively get less saturated as she sets a better balance in life.


The male lead is surrounded by black

and whites or much less color when he's true to his dream; we can see primary colors seep in and become more prominent when he strays away from it.



  All in all, La La Land has a clever use of colors to help convey its themes. There can be many different interpretations of what every color means, but, without a doubt, they have a great impact on the audience. Many more movies use colors with intention; using color theory is an important aspect of movie making. The next time you're watching a movie, you can try and recognize where and how colors were used to enhance storytelling.


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