Many productions that are filmed in colour usually have a certain colour scheme that sets the tone for the film. This is called the Film Color Theory, which states that certain colours in a film can draw out certain emotions from its audience. Manipulating these colours can help guide the audience toward the director’s intent, create dramatic irony, or sends a message to the audience. A colour wheel is an essential tool for director’s to have when deciding on sets, costume designs, and lighting during filming. Not only does colour help with the physical aspects of a film, but also the emotions that come along with it. Colour in film helps the audience see the film’s true intentions on the screen and what the director wants the audience to see. Although there are many colours to choose from, National Pink Day seems like the perfect time to celebrate films that have incorporated pink into their colour palette and what the colour means in certain films.
Psychology of ‘Pink’
Each colour of the rainbow has certain emotions associated to them when it comes to scenes in film and television. The colour Pink is associated with love, innocence, and playfulness, as well as with all that is healthy, happy, content, romantic, charming, soft, delicate and feminine. Some popular films that incorporate the colour into various scenes are Grease (1978), Mean Girls (2004), Harry Potter Series, and Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) just to name a few. Let’s check out pink in these iconic films and what the directors try to tell the audience through these characters.
The American musical rom-com tells the story of the relationship between greaser Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and transfer student Sandy Olson (Olivia Newton-John). At the high school Sandy is attending, she befriends a member of the Pink Ladies. The Pink Ladies are a group of four who wear powder pink jackets. The jackets have ‘Pink Ladies’ embroidered on the back, and their names on the front. The members of the group are Betty Rizzo, Marty Maraschino, Frenchy, and Jan. Although individually they have different styles, the pink jackets single them out as a clique. The jackets celebrate impurity, seeing pink as more sarcastic than its usual associations, as well as through sexual allusions throughout the film. The Pink Ladies give off sultry, seductive, and rebellious vibes, which is why they are the most popular and imitated groups in film.
Mean Girls (2004)
This film is dominated by the color pink. Mean Girls tells the story of a 16 year old girl, Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) returning from Africa with her family and starting high school back in the United States. Cady unintentionally joins The Plastics, led by Regina George (Rachel McAdams) and learns the struggles of high school cliques. The Plastics consists of members Regina George, Gretchen Weiners, and Karen Smith. As Cady becomes a member of The Plastics, she trades her dark toned clothing in for pastels, mostly pink. While the color pink is usually associated with innocence, The Plastics put on a deceptive front. The group is known throughout the film for being manipulative, promiscuous and evil to many. The group wears pink every Wednesday, Regina’s mother is seen mostly wearing pink, and Regina’s room is made up of mostly pink decor as well. The representation of pink is an attempt to play up the qualities of innocence and purity that are associated with pink to mask the cruelness of The Plastics.
Harry Potter (2001-2011)
J.K Rowling’s best selling novels were adapted into eight films about the story of wizard Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his time at Hogwarts. Although there a multiple films to this series, one character that is always wearing the color pink is Dolores Umbridge. Depicted as a girlish character in the series, Umbridge speaks in a high pitched voice, has an office filled with pink objects, and wears pink clothing and accessories in all of the films. Even though she dresses and acts like a ‘sweet maiden’ as Harry would call her, her character is seen as cruel, unfair, and ruthless. The directors wanted to show irony and contrast in the character to make her seem sweet and unthreatening on the outside, but twisted and evil on the inside. The color pink shows Umbridge’s girlishness and how she sometimes act as a little girl throughout the series. Dolores Umbridge wears the colour pink to mask her vicious personality that is not well liked in Hogwarts.
Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Set in the fictional country of Zubrowka in 1930’s Europe, the film tells the story of a concierge of the hotel, Monsieur Gustave and his friendship with his lobby boy Zero. After Gustave is framed for murder, both of the men try to prove Gustave’s innocence throughout the film. When the Grand Budapest Hotel flashes back to the 1930’s, it is a light pink colour which suggests the hotel’s charm, healthiness and happiness during that time. The other times that pink is used in the film is in Mendl’s Bakery and through Agatha’s clothing. Mendl’s wraps their baked goods in a light pink box, which emphasises the soft and delicate manner that the cakes and cookies were created and decorated in. Agatha, Zero’s girlfriend is wearing pink clothing throughout most of the film. This clothing represents Agatha’s purity and innocence, working as a baker for Mendl’s and always willing to help others. Unlike the other films discussed, Grand Budapest Hotel uses the colour pink as happy, lively, and pure throughout the scenes that reflect on the past.
To conclude, the filmmakers use the colour pink convey different meanings for each of these productions. Each of these films however, emphasise the importance of colour in film and the variety of meanings it can have on the audience. We wish you a great National Pink Day!
Katy is Senior at James Madison University back in the United States. She is a Communications major with a Public Relations concentration and a General Business minor. Katy is studying abroad for the semester in London and is excited to travel and learn more about the film industry.