from Marketing Memetics, by Michael Taylor
Ever notice in movies, when characters travel to Mexico everything gets unexplainably yellow? The sky in Mexico doesn’t really look that way, but we associate yellow tint with bygone eras, lawless westerns, hard lives, dusty towns, no technology. This meme arose thanks to the use of sepia to preserve old photographs, and because human skin tones are easier to work with in the yellow end of the color spectrum.
When film digitized and filmmakers could manipulate colors more easily, they jumped to blue. It’s at the opposite end of the color spectrum – a complementary color that makes the scene ‘pop’. Now we associate blue with progress, modern technology, cleanliness, science, and space. Almost every futuristic film has a blue background (“Star Wars”, “Tron”, “Transformers”). When the characters have a flashback or visit somewhere less technologically advanced, watch the sky turn yellow (Tatooine is Mexico in space).
In real life you rarely see a red dress, but if the script calls for seduction, there’s only one color for the job (“Pretty Woman”, “La Parisienne”, “The Matrix”). If your movie is a little more conceptual, make the background of the movie poster red, with black or white text and an iconic symbol (“12 Monkeys”, “Vertigo”, “28 days later”). Making an indie film? The poster should be yellow, ("Little Miss Sunshine", "Garden State", "The King's Speech”), so moviegoers don’t expect explosions. If they do want action, they know to go for black, white and orange (”Die Hard”, “Fast and Furious”, “Transporter”).
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