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Cinema Palettes shows how colors are used to set mood of iconic films

cinema palettes twitter account color theory

The color palette of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Color theory might sound like nothing more than a cinematic buzzword you last heard in your 300-level fine arts course at university. But the reality is, color theory is the set of rules and guidelines upon which cinematographers rely on to affect the tone and mood of a movie, beyond the soundtrack.

To dive deeper into the colors used in films new and old, a Twitter account under the name Cinema Palettes takes a still from a movie and pulls out a color palette based on the scene captured. This color palette is presented below the selected frame, giving us a better visual upon which to break down the film’s mood based on known color theory principles.

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As of this writing, the account has 256 screenshots and accompanying color palettes displayed; everything from the 1957 Aubrey Hepburn film, Funny Face, to Ridley Scott’s 2015 space adventure, The Martian.

Browsing through the collection, it’s interesting to look at the various themes that come across when viewing a movie’s color palettes at a more macro level.

Take, for example, Wes Anderson films. Anderson is known for a very eclectic visual approach to movies, but upon looking at the palettes for his movies Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tenenbaums, it becomes even more obvious just how bright and diverse his scenes are.

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Below, we’ve gathered some of our favorite palette collections so far: