We all know that light affects mood and perception. During the shorter winter days when there is less sunshine and light, for example, people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is why light therapy is used as a treatment strategy for this disorder. But color also has a huge effect on our moods and our behavior. Advertisers, lighting experts, cinematographers, etc., have known this for some time. In fact, no lighting director worth his or her salt can get by without at least a passing knowledge of color psychology. Let’s explore the mystery of color psychology and how it is used to influence our emotions and behavior.
- Red: The color red is a very powerful color. It has a tendency to be associated with passion, violence, love, danger, power and anger. Its effective use is demonstrated in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and it is used all throughout Sam Mendes’ American Beauty.
- Pink: Pink is used with great effectiveness in the movies Frozen and Hairspray to denote innocence, sweetness, femininity, playfulness, empathy and beauty.
- Orange: The color orange is perceived to mean warmth, sociability, friendly, happiness, exotic and youth. The color has a higher wavelength than yellow, for example, which is why it is used to draw the attention of viewers. It is used often in the movie Romeo and Juliet (dir. Braz Luhrhamm).
- Yellow: The color yellow is often associated with madness, sickness, insecurity, obsessive, idyllic and the naive. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining effectively uses this color to illustrate Jack Nicholson’s obsessive behavior, especially in the “Here’s Johnny” scene.
- Green: Nature, immaturity, corruption, ominous, darkness, and danger are all connected to this color. Wachowski brothers’ Matrix series is filmed predominantly using this color.
- Blue: Blue is a favorite color used by director Tim Burton for many of his movies which have to do with the melancholy such as Corpse Bride. This color is connected with coldness, isolation, melancholy and calm.
- Violet: This color is associated with fantasy, eroticism and the mystical. It is used to great effect all throughout key scenes in the movie Avatar.
Finally, armed with the basics of color psychology lighting directors, cinematographers have another tool to use in order to influence the mood and perceptions of their respective audiences. The wireless dimmers and other devices on our site also help in this effort.