Strange Colors: An Analysis of Color in Doctor Strange

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We have seen magic in film countless times before. It is meant to be flashy and in-your-face to emphasize how fantastical it is. Given the unique ways that films like the Harry Potter series have portrayed magic in the past, how can a movie portray it in a way that is different? Doctor Strange has the task of portraying magic in a way that is innovative and mesmerizing, and it does so through the use of its lighting and color.

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Doctor Strange follows the journey of intelligent but cocky surgeon Stephen Strange as he trains to use magic to stop an otherworldly force. As Strange learns about the different forms of magic he can use, the audience is introduced to the magic through the vibrant colors used by the many sorcerers in the film. The different spells that they use provide the audience with a surplus of colors and effects for viewing and, in this blog, for analysis.

The Ancient One and the Color Yellow

The opening scene features a fight between the Ancient One and some random evil henchmen. The battle takes place in New York City around, on, and inside a bunch of gray buildings.

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The henchmen all wear the same deep crimson robes while the Ancient One stands out in her bright yellow robe. In a previous blog post, I described the traditional connotation for the color red and how we see typically associate it with things that are negative, so the henchmen wearing this color makes sense.

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Bright yellow is a color we typically associate with the Sun, or light in general. In addition to the robe she’s wearing, the magical constructs she uses are also bright yellow. Her use of the color yellow helps to introduce her to the audience as being on the side of light, or good, in this film.

Time and the Color Green

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Another unique use of color shown in this movie is whenever Doctor Strange uses his Eye of Agamotto. It is an artifact he finds in the movie that allows him to control time, and it glows green. Green is a color we commonly associate with green lights signaling for us to go. It is ironic that the color of a spell that causes time to reverse is green, as if it were pushing time forward.

Multi-Color Symbolism

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What is likely the most standout scene from the entire movie is the scene where the Ancient One first introduces Strange to magic.

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It is a double pronged scene as it thrusts the audience (and Strange) into the world of magic and gives a lot of surreal imagery.  The above photo shows the literal and figurative push that the Ancient One gives Doctor Strange into the world of magic. The fact that the projection of himself behind him becomes yellow can symbolize that he is crossing over to the side of good and leaving behind his cockiness.

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This scene is a good example of why the film’s effects earned it an Oscar nomination. The multiple colors used in the scene help to symbolize the multiple possibilities that the magic in the movie has and all the places that it can take the audience.

Have any unique uses of color that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.


Transparency: How to See Through Lights, Camera, and Color

My mission statement for these blogs has been to provide a unique analysis of the use of color in films and TV shows. I do this because I think that the lighting and color usage can provide extra context to a scene and symbolize different things based on when and how it is used. Through my analyses, I hoped to analyze color in films and shows clearly, but I don’t think my method of doing so has been very clear. With this post, I hope to provide some insight on how I analyze film and TV color usage, and how to see through the LCC Lens.

Find Total Color

In order to start seeing shows and movies through this lens, you have to start analyzing the details of a scene’s total color. What I mean by total color is all of the colors present in a scene. This includes the colors in the background, the foreground, and a character’s outfit. Analyzing each scene’s total color will provide a list of colors for you to analyze and provide context to.

Provide Context

The next step is providing context to the colors that you see. These are some questions you can ask yourself that can help to provide context to the scene you’re viewing:

What do we normally associate with this color?

What does this color mean for this character?

What does it represent?

What does the color add to the scene or to a character?

These questions can be very effective when analyzing a scene and can help to provide an extra layer of information that you may not notice without intentionally looking for it.

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Take this iconic scene from Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back as an example. It can be easily analyzed through the LCC Lens. It has Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker battling with their lightsabers. If you look at the scenes total color, you’ll see that it primarily makes use of the colors red, black, and blue.

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We typically attribute things that are positive and pure to the color blue. Clear blue skies and vast bodies of water are a couple of examples. Blue is the color used by the Jedi, the protagonists of Star Wars who Luke Skywalker represents. Blue is also the color of Luke’s lightsaber. Luke’s primary weapon being blue helps to reinforce that the side he is fighting for is a side for good.

We typically associate danger with the color red. Fire and blood are two examples of this. Red is the color used by the Sith, the antagonists of Star Wars who Darth Vader represents. Darth Vader uses a red lightsaber, showing that the side that he represents is dangerous.

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The color black is used to create silhouettes of the characters. This causes the viewer to focus the most on the two lightsabers doing battle. Good vs. evil, red vs. blue. The two colors are often seen as opposites of each other, so it is fitting that the two opposing forces would utilize each color. The color black being used for both characters could also imply an idea of sameness, or that the two characters, though ideally different, are one in the same in reality. This provides a bit of foreshadowing, as it is later revealed in the scene that Darth Vader is Luke’s father.

Was this helpful? Let me know in the comments below.

Creative Uses of Color in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 boasts a host of positive things to say about it, but one thing I think is overlooked about it is its superb use of color. The setting frequently shifts to different places throughout the galaxy, giving the movie’s cinematographer Henry Braham plenty of creative options. Here I’ll take a look at 3 unique uses of color that stood out the most.


  1. Ayesha’s Planet

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    The scenes that took place on Ayesha’s planet were made up of two basic colors, gold and blue. All of her people were gold, and juxtaposed with the blue background, it helped them stand out more and appear brighter. Gold is normally associated with importance, or rarity. This helps to emphasize Ayesha and her people’s imperial positions (which led to their feeling of entitlement). Blue being the color of the sky helps to emphasize their far reach throughout the galaxy, as they come to be annoying pains in the movie later.

  2. Ego’s Planet

    Image result for ego's planet guardians of the galaxy 2Ego’s planet’s purpose was to be inviting for the Guardians (mainly Peter). This consists of the use of warm colors like the orange sky and red and green plants. It’s pleasing to the eye and makes the observer want to keep looking at it. The cinematography did a good job making the scene appealing not only in the context of the movies characters but the audience as well.

  3. Yondu’s Funeral


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Yondu’s funeral was met with the accompaniment of his friends throughout his life, who all shot fireworks in his honor. These fireworks range in color, from bright orange to a mint green. Each color symbolizes the various places he’s been taken throughout his life and the different experiences he’s had, and they all come in one place. The cinematography was also precise enough to have deep blue and crimson fireworks at the forefront, as he’s kind of blue and he always wears a red coat.

Any Moments I Missed? Comment Below.


Light It Up: A Closer Look at Color in “The Defenders”

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The geek magnet known as “The Defenders” has garnered a lot of attention from critics and fans alike. The 8 episode Netflix Original is unique for combining four individual Netflix Originals- Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, to create a show that combines elements, characters, and creates unique ways to tell stories through its use of color. In this blog, I hope to analyze the relevancy of colors used in scenes throughout the show, and discuss what they add to the characters and the story as a whole.

An intriguing storytelling feature that cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd managers to showcase is his color use throughout each individual Defender’s scene. All scenes with Daredevil and his accompanying characters (minus the much missed Punisher) contained a red tint in the lighting. Jessica Jones and her cast of friends whom she’s constantly rude to are in scenes with a blue shade. Luke Cage and his more fragile companions are shown in scenes with a dark yellow glow. Iron Fist and his, well, just his girlfriend are shown in scenes with a subtle (unlike his personality) shade of dark green. With this satisfying feature, each character’s scenes are meant to feel as if they are from their own respective shows, and smooth and subtle transitions are made to blend their individual worlds together.

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Episode 3 of their adventures features the first time that all four central characters share a scene together. This takes place in Midland Circle, a skyscraper the Hand has crafted. The hallways that The Defenders proceed to fight in are all white. This is very mindful as all of the Defenders colors: red, yellow, blue, and green, all pass through the color white on the color spectrum. The black and white suits the Hand henchmen wear symbolize the black and white way that they see the world, with very little gray area or variation. 

Episode 4 features Matthew J. Lloyd’s most creative use of his innovative cinematography style. The setting has the four in a small diner on the side of bright neon lights. These neon lights shine all of their respective colors and much of their combinations together. As they eat, the camera turns around the table, exposing purple and green throughout the scene, symbolizing their bonding and exchange of experiences across sweeping shots. Daredevil and Iron Fist share an individual scene in this diner, they are right next to each other but the red background for Daredevil and the green foreground for Iron Fist are clearly present. Even when the characters are right next to each other, it’s as if they are in separate worlds.

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Episode 5 features another amusing blending of lighting. It comes in a scene where Jessica Jones and Daredevil are fighting one of the main members of the Hand. Daredevil comes in to save Jessica Jones and the lighting in the scene changes from light blue to a shade of purple, symbolizing the short lived unity between the characters before Jessica insults his costume.

What are some examples that you noticed? Comment Below.

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