Colour Lighting – “Only God Forgives”

Lighting and colour are quite similar in the way they work. They can both create a particular emotion as well as set an entire shot or overall construct an entire scene to the way the director or art director is wanting to achieve.

For example director Wes Anderson is probably the most notable when it come to the use of colour, lighting and mixing the two together to contract a scene.

You can use colour to change the mood of your shot. You can also choose the colours of things to include in the shot like backgrounds, furniture and costumes.

Films that I found use the use of colour lighting to the extreme is “Only God Forgives”, “The Terminator”, “The Matrix” and most of Wes Anderson’s films.


Shot from the filmĀ “Only God Forgives”

This film is extraordinary in the use of their colours. The scene I’m about to show below is positioned in a bar and is only lit up by the artificial lights.

The use of red and blue lighting used created a very mellow, almost depressing representation, which went along with the help of the music . This particular lighting replicates the exact version of what the inside a club/bar would look like which I feel the lighting has established the setting perfectly.
The low lighting from the reds and blues allowed the character (played by Ryan Gosling) to have a lot of shadows, which created a sense of mystery, and darkness within his character representation.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 2.29.12 pm

What I found is the lighting in this scene set up an automatic emotional response to the audience. What we saw throughout the lighting is exactly how the director was intending to pursue. The only time we see a harsh light is on the asian woman standing up, she is obviously distressed and does not want to be there. This lighting almost highlighted her character.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 2.29.38 pmThe scene ends on a complete opposite lighting that was portrayed throughout the start. The lighting represented is very orange/yellow set up. Here it can be seen as positive colours in colour terms, but the way the director has created it was the complete opposite as he drags the man down the hallway.

After these investigations I found that lighting can create a huge impact on how a films scene/shot/coverage are all represented.


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