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If It's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling Paperback – June 9, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0240806884 ISBN-10: 0240806883 Edition: Fourth Printing

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If It's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling + Color Correction Handbook: Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema (2nd Edition) (Digital Video & Audio Editing Courses)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; Fourth Printing edition (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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"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

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Customer Reviews

I wish I had read this book when I was in film school, my films would have looked much better.
Ms. Bellantoni illumuinates the use of color in some of my favorite films and has given me the joy of seeing some of them in a fresh and altogether revealing way.
Rick Goldstein
While my class has completed readings on most film elements, they inevitably want to return to Bellantoni's work on color and camp there!
Dr. E

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By T. Callahan on September 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 By Dr. E VINE VOICE on 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 By Grant Beaudette VINE VOICE on 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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By forest on October 5, 2005
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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