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  • Lauren Whitehead


The aesthetic of a film is a very much under-appreciated element of cinematography, but it is a vital piece of storytelling. Colour can evoke varying emotions before an actor has even muttered a word and can convey elements of the narrative that cannot be communicated elsewhere. And let’s face it, we’re all impartial to a Pinterest aesthetic here and there. With pastels being very much in vogue right now, here are five films with colour palettes to die for:

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Known for his eccentricity and distinctive visual style, Wes Anderson is the king of colour, and his 2014 comedy-drama, The Grand Budapest Hotel, epitomises this perfectly. With the hotel itself being adorned in a pastel pink shade, this is teamed alongside an array of blues, purples, and neutral shades to create a visually striking masterpiece. The director is known for his use of bright colours to depict dark characters and subjects, making his talent ever more impressive. Alongside this, Anderson’s use of symmetry and retro directing style works harmoniously and exemplifies exactly why he is referred to as a modern-day auteur. As for the film itself, it is arguably one of Anderson’s best and boasts a score of 8.1 out of 10 on IMDb. With extraordinary attention to detail and the exploration of various themes within, the film is entertaining, comical, and exciting all at once – a must-watch for both Anderson newbies and die-hard fans alike.

  1. Marie Antoinette (2006)

On the theme of pastels, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is another picture that prides itself on a beautiful colour palette. Focusing largely on soft pinks, blues, and champagne golds, it reflects the Rococo era in its glory and ensures that the film is eye-catching from the first to the final frame. Coppola’s production conveys a refined taste due to the chosen cinematography, and so its aesthetic is targeted well at a younger audience. Similarly to Anderson’s juxtapositions, such an attractive use of colour contrasts the film’s focus on the fall of Versailles and the lead-up to the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette is the perfect drama – albeit seemingly hyperbolic – focusing on France’s iconic, final queen. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Coppola executes a wonderfully picture-perfect film and sees it accumulate a rating of 6.5 out of 10 on IMDb. It’s fun yet educational value cannot be flawed and sees an easier route than trawling through textbooks to ace your next history exam.

  1. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Perhaps not the most obvious of choices, Edward Scissorhands showcases a wonderful pastel palette and is also possibly one of Tim Burton’s finest productions. Scissorhands’ suburbia is the neighbourhood of dreams with its vibrant yet calming aesthetic, and very much continues the pastel theme. An array of pinks, blues, greens, and yellows are easy on the eye and are what dreams are made of. Even though Scissorhands is synonymous with a monochromatic look, the neighbourhood alone is all you need to keep those positive vibes at the forefront of the film. As a cult classic, and with big names such as Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder being on the bill, the film scores a respected 7.9 out of 10 on IMDb. The story is very much a poignant fable and will keep you hooked throughout. Even if it is a seemingly darker and uninviting movie for some as a result of Scissorhands’ appearance, we all know that you should never judge a book by its cover.

  1. La La Land (2016)

The iconic yellow dress springs to mind immediately with any mention of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land and is just a small part of his striking colour choices within the hit motion picture. Despite not focusing on pastels, a neon colour palette is much more prominent in the musical but this is as equally as striking and visually dramatic. The use of complementary tones of yellow and purple – alongside various other vivid colour choices, particularly in Emma Stone’s auditions scene – creates a lively, radiant narrative to coincide perfectly with the feel-good music. The comedic, yet romantic, musical is rated highly with a score of 8 out of 10 on IMDb. Very much a heart-warming and touching storyline, it slots perfectly into the category of feel-good films and is one to watch over the coming summer months.

  1. Promising Young Woman (2020)

Returning to the pastel theme for the final, and most recent, film, Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman has received various plaudits already, alongside picking up an Oscar along the way. Aside from the obvious boldness of Carey Mulligan’s pastel hairdo, the protagonist’s wardrobe is an angelic dream. Placed alongside the cinematography, the picture centres on pure, candy-coloured shades of pink, blue, and white, to counteract the devious nature of Mulligan’s character. If the awards and nominations do not say enough about the film, it has already acquired a respectable 7.5 out of 10 on IMDb. Fennell’s masterpiece is a sweet take on a dark subject, and is full of twists and turns, it is a must-see for film lovers everywhere.

Colour palettes are an essential piece within cinema and play a huge part in the construction of a motion picture, its narrative, and its characters. Some palettes are evidently more appealing than others, and are much more meaningful in their message, however they should not be ignored.

These are just a few of the striking colour palettes that feature in our cinema favourites, and there are certainly many more that nourish the senses, but the use of colour within film should definitely not be overlooked next time you have a lazy, ‘binge-watch’ weekend.

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