Throughout the history of film and television, colour has played decisive role in conveying films main plot elements through the use of colour palettes and there effects on the audience. The 2008 hit series “Breaking Bad” produced by Vince Gilligan uses colour to immense effect as a tool to help further and explain plot points and the development of characters.
Gilligan uses a carefully crafted and defined pastel colour palette, using key colours throughout to further convey the story. From the pilot episode green is used to deliver a personification of characters feeling, emotions and traits. The main protagonist Walter White’s character is a key example of the use of colour to personify traits for example desperation and greed. Colour impact in the series is delivered successfully through methodical costume design.
Wearing a green apron Walter is seen cooking his first successful batch of methamphetamine in the pilot episode, green in this situation shows the desperation felt by Walter after his cancer diagnosis to reinforce his families security. Throughout the duration of the 5 seasons this family orientated desperation turns into ill-gotten greed as he struggles to walk away from he criminal life. This character transition is further emphasised by colour in costume design as villain Gus is killed by Walter who’s donned a green shirt during the scene. This connection between character and colour through costume design is used intuitively to help develop characters as they are effected by main plot points. The distinct connection makes it easy for the viewing audience to make the gradual change in character.
In contrast the 2016 hit science fiction drama “Stranger Things” produced by the Duffer Brothers uses high contrast colours in the environments to emphasis place and dimensions to ensure the viewer understands the main story line. The colour palette and grading leaves very little green in any scene throughout the series instead opting for a palette of brown, yellow, blue and red. Scenes in the series that take place in the normal world are exhibited in a saturated 1980’s brown and yellow colour scheme, this gives the world a conventional everyday feeling.
As aforementioned this minimalistic colour scheme is used to help create a greater contrast between dimensions. The “upside down” a scary parallel dimension contrasts perfectly with the norm as its incorporates a combination of dark blues and bright sharp red which causes contrast between themselves. Deep blues convey the negativity, darkness and depression that breads in this other dimension, this changes the once warm tones of yellow environments to a cold, lifeless and empty feeling habitat. Bright piercing reds are seen in the rolling storms that terrorise the “upside down” the red juxtaposes the blue to show anger, hate and violence.
This deep use of colour in the environment has beneficial effects for the viewers, it develops the sense of clear divide between the two dimensions whilst giving off key information about the state of each dimensions. Blue and red contrasting helps to define certain areas of the story during the arc of the episodes, these colours are normally associated with the climax of the episode as they convey the dark powers of the “upside down” dimension. Therefore with out this key use of colour the viewer would have difficulty distinguishing between the quick changing parallel dimensions. Furthermore the overall feelings of fear and aggression conveyed by the colour imbedded in the environments has a immense effect on the perception of the viewing audience.
Colour can be powerful when used to define an atmosphere of single episode but over a astonishing seven series it becomes its own property. HBO’s fantasy drama phenomenon “Game of Thrones” created by David Benioff shows a significant use of colour throughout each episode but more prominent is the change of the overall colour of the show from first season to last. Viewers of the show may not realise that gradually the show has fading to black, subtle changes from season to season shows a darker palette used. This darker palette is fed to the viewer through lighting, costume and set design and plays a pivotal role in the narrative of the show. Winter coming is the key plot point throughout all seasons of the program and intertwines with the overall shift of colour and hue to the darker state of the later seasons.