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If It's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling [Paperback]

Patti Bellantoni
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 9, 2005 0240806883 978-0240806884
If it's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die is a must-read book for all film students, film professionals, and others interested in filmmaking. This enlightening book guides filmmakers toward making the right color selections for their films, and helps movie buffs understand why they feel the way they do while watching movies that incorporate certain colors.

Guided by her twenty-five years of research on the effects of color on behavior, Bellantoni has grouped more than 60 films under the spheres of influence of six major colors, each of which triggers very specific emotional states. For example, the author explains that films with a dominant red influence have themes and characters that are powerful, lusty, defiant, anxious, angry, or romantic and discusses specific films as examples. She explores each film, describing how, why, and where a color influences emotions, both in the characters on screen and in the audience. Each color section begins with an illustrated Home Page that includes examples, anecdotes, and tips for using or avoiding that particular color.

Conversations with the author's colleagues-- including award-winning production designers Henry Bumstead (Unforgiven) and Wynn Thomas (Malcolm X) and renowned cinematographers Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redemption) and Edward Lachman (Far From Heaven)--reveal how color is often used to communicate what is not said.

Bellantoni uses her research and experience to demonstrate how powerful color can be and to increase readers awareness of the colors around us and how they make us feel, act, and react.

*Learn how your choice of color can influence an audience's moods, attitudes, reactions, and interpretations of your movie's plot
*See your favorite films in a new light as the author points out important uses of color, both instinctive and intentional
*Learn how to make good color choices, in your film and in your world.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In this book we are really watching movies through designer's eyes and what a refreshing examination it makes...Anyone with creative input into filmmaking will find this book a very useful guide in creating moods and emotions for an audience...This is the movie equivalent of having colour and its effect explained by Monet, it is that fresh and original...Anyone who works on a film set in any capacity will have their money's worth out of this movie colour guide for years to come." - www.ukfilmfinance.com

"Patti Bellantoni's If Its Purple, Someones Gonna Die has given us a highly entertaining exploration of the world of color and its impact on our emotions. Told through a careful analysis of motion pictures that have used color to enhance or define their characters or dramatic needs, we are given a lively and insightful view of our reactions to the film experience.

Leading us gently but firmly through places we may have taken for granted, we find revelations that can be of real help to readers who use color to shape emotional responses to concepts, as well as physical environments. We can never again take the
world of color for granted." --Robert Boyle, four-time Oscar-nominated Production Designer (North by Northwest, The Birds, The Thomas Crown Affair, Fiddler on the Roof)

"A wonderful idea and very impressive! Patti's book shows the importance of color in developing both character and story." --Henry Bumstead, two-time Oscar-winning Production Designer (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sting, Unforgiven, Mystic River)

"We see color--Patti Bellantoni feels color. She is passionate about how we (the audience) are affected by the use of color as an emotion in film. This book pulls me back into my favorite films and helps me look at them in a new way. The book is a first of its kind and a great asset for our students on the impact of cinematography and production design." --Judy Irola, ASC, Head of Cinematography,USC School of Cinema-Television

"Bellantoni's evidence is confident and her examples are authoritative. Like Robert McKee's Story Seminars, hers is a breakthrough concept." --Sam L. Grogg, Ph.D, Dean, AFI Conservatory

"There comes a point, as Bellantoni spins example after example, where it all suddenly clicks. The use of color in motion pictures is not just a happy coincidence, but a conscious artistic choice that wafts with concrete meaning through all of the film's language. Unconscious and primitive in many respects, conscious and sophisticated in many more, the use and choice of color in motion pictures depends on the filmmakers instinct and intellect, the pillars of all great art. No one can ever look at moving pictures the same way after steeping themselves in this excellent book of discovery."
--Sam L. Grogg, Ph.D, Dean, AFI Conservatory

"Color remains one of the filmmaker's greatest assets and opportunities. With the new arsenal of digital tools available, the range of options for color has grown dramatically in the last three years. For filmmakers, Patti Bellantoni's new book is a great resource for what is now possible."
--Robert Hoffman, Vice President, Marketing,
Technicolor Entertainment Services

"Patti Bellantoni has opened our eyes to the power of color in our lives. Her book is an invaluable resource not only for film professionals but also for artists, writers, designers, psychologists, educators, healers, and all who seek a deeper understanding of visual experience." --Judith Searle, Author, The Literary Enneagram: Characters from the Inside Out

"A fascinating exploration of how color affects our emotional perception of the world. Although Patti primarily discusses the impact of color in film, her book is an indispensable resource for all visual artists." --Ralph Funicello,Tony Award nominated Set Designer,Don Powell Chair in Set Design, San Diego State University

"Patti does a wonderful job of dissecting color and its presence in film. She makes us aware of the visual path in our brain and how a film touches us. This is a critical concept as we contemplate the digital medium in film making!" --Beverly Wood Holt, Exec. VP Technical Services & Client Services, Deluxe Laboratories.

"This is a crossover book with a broad appeal and a longer life. It's not only about movies. It's about how people feel when they watch movies." Barnes & Noble manager, Los Angeles

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press (June 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240806883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240806884
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I really wanted what this book promised, what it held out to me in the "search inside" feature - but the deficiencies in style, content, and format are severe enough to warrant a serious warning against purchasing this book, or at the very least, this edition.

The text is written like new-age spiritual guidance lit - there are gaps in logic everywhere, and every argument is based off of a story instead of a fact. Providing some acuity on a color or its psychological effects would be what I would expect from a book that costs as much as a textbook, instead, the reader is put in the mood for the upcoming chapter with descriptions of color that read like horoscopes. Reds are divided up into "Powerful, lusty, and defiant reds," & "Anxious, angry, and romantic reds." Why not start off with cool reds and warm reds? Because you're being sold on the words, not on the colors, and not on some sort of proof.

Which leads me to the fact that there are 28 stills from films in this 243 page book. To reiterate: 243 page book on visual storytelling, 28 examples. Oh, there are some nice pictures of road signs and various other stock photos, and - no joke - some paintings the author's students made. 12 of those inside. They're kind of nice. But they are nothing more than a cheap magician's misdirection - these students come up again and again as proof that people "see" a color a certain way. Yeah, red's "anger" or "passion." I don't need a book, or someone else's experience to tell me this - I bump my head, or rub my eyes, and I see red. I want to be told how red communicates anger and passion to an audience. Simply stating that it does so is not providing me with a fact, it's providing a tautology.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tickled Pink! October 16, 2007
Format:Paperback
As an instructor of film-studies, I needed a text that tackled color-theory but used terms that first-year college-students could understand (i.e. a jargon-free examination of color in film). Bellantoni's work easily fulfills this need.

Foremost, Bellantoni logically divides her chapters by color (How refreshing to find a technical-work which travels a simple path!!) Within these chapters, are references to both well-known films (ex. "The Godfather," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Saving Private Ryan," "American Beauty," "Eyes Wide Shut," "Rosemary's Baby" and "Malcolm X") as well as lesser-watched films (ex. "Mi Familia," "Eve's Bayou, and "The Caveman's Valentine"). The tremendous range of examples ensures that every reader will find a film-favorite for each color entry. (No need to worry about this being another text brimming with obscure/out-of-print works!!)

Now, let me be clear about Bellantoni's work. She emphasizes that there are both "intellectual" and "visceral" responses to color. Her text focuses almost entirely on the "visceral" (which she repeatedly states). Some detractors of the Bellentoni's find fault with her "failure" to explore the "intellectual." Nonsense. Frankly, I prefer this focused approach to a broader (potentially sloppy) work. The richness of this text would have suffered if Belllantoni felt compelled to address every possible interpretation.

While I enjoyed Bellantoni's personal anecdotes, I was occasionally frustrated by her neglecting to cite sources for a variety of evidence. For instance, when she asserts that "red cars get more speeding tickets than cars of any other color," I would have appreciated a footnote citing her source (or even providing the data)(2).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to color's role in storytelling September 19, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is definitely on the beginners side of the spectrum. (no pun intended) You're not going to learn to be a production designer just from reading it, but it's a great start to becoming more aware of the use of color in film (or comics, video games or any other visual media) to influence underlying mood of the story. And once you're aware of color's presence, you can start making educated choices on how to use color in your own work.

Although a few more pictures would've been nice, the author does a good job of taking each of the six primary & secondary colors and defining its role in general and then giving numerous specific examples of the different visual and emotional tones each color can take.

If nothing else, this book added about 8 movies to my Netflix queue.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars reasonably interesting ramblings on colour in film October 5, 2005
By forest
Format:Paperback
Bellantoni's book is interesting, a nice light read on colour in film. It is nothing in comparsion to Bruce Block's 'The Visual Story' which explains colour, whereas this book is just a series of examples. It's both the author's interpretation and she's interviewed a number of DOP's etc of note. I'm not trying to say this book is of no value (it has good interviews, great colour stills and covers a lot of films), but I feel a more accurate review is required on this book given the other reviews are clearly written by Bellantoni's New York and LA friends. The back of the book says please review this book online, which indicates the publishers know the value of these reviews, and therefore seek to send out a few themselves.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
for those who want to learn about color in film . this is a must buy. very intellectual and rational!
Published on September 30, 2011 by neversettle22
5.0 out of 5 stars If it's purple
I was thrilled with this purchase as I orginially found it in a bookshop in Sydney for 3 times as much money. The copy from Amazon was good as new and worth every cent. Read more
Published on June 13, 2010 by Katharine Rogers
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS IT...
I had been looking for a book like this for ages. I can only recommend this book to anyone who is involved with film, and not only cinematographers or art designers. Read more
Published on October 6, 2009 by Carlofornia
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the few clear explanations of color theory in film I've found
Most books on cinematography cover the manufacture and names of major lights, color temp., and possibly a few pages dedicated to zones, a small number of lighting setups outside... Read more
Published on April 26, 2009 by FakePurseNinja
4.0 out of 5 stars Bellantoni Review
As a student first looking into the true meaning behind film, I enjoyed "If It's Purple Someone's Gonna Die". Read more
Published on October 31, 2007 by Dominique Hugg
4.0 out of 5 stars Educational Yet Fun
As a student in a university level film-studies class, I found this text to be not only intriguingly insightful but also truly helpful in regards to one's ability to intelligently... Read more
Published on October 22, 2007 by Eric P. Edgerton
4.0 out of 5 stars The Importance of Color
Unlike most books on the psychology of color, this one focuses on film and relies heavily on the author's personal experience teaching the subject. Read more
Published on August 5, 2007 by Barbudo
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but I don't buy all of the conclusions
This book is very thought provoking. Some of the theory is similar to other books on color and its importance and psychological, physiological impact, but keeping it completely... Read more
Published on June 7, 2007 by Stephen J. Hullfish
5.0 out of 5 stars color me satisfied.
Every now and then you come across a book that is both a revelation and a pleasure from cover to cover. "If It's Purple..." is just such a read. Read more
Published on October 2, 2005 by Rick Goldstein
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