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Swirling Colors

analytical Essay
1258 words
1258 words
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Swirling Colors Psychological research has shown different colors to arouse or symbolize different emotions or states of mind. In a color reaction test, the warm colors, most significantly red, but also yellows and oranges, were found to represent an active state of mind. The cooler colors, most significantly blue and green, and also purple, were more passive and calming. “warmth signifies contact with the environment, coolness signifying withdrawal into oneself.” (Sasaki) Red specifically can also symbolize aggression, warning, or danger, or cause an agitated state of emotion. Likewise, green can symbolize passivity, or safety. Blue can signify guilt, and violet or purple a sense of calmness and appeasement. The most opposing of these two are red and green, colors complimentary to eachother due to their contrary positions on the color wheel. In Hitchcock’s Vertigo, all these colors play a role in character development, contrast, and symbolism, each character having a color with which they are associated, with a striking emphasis on the contrast between red and green, and a later omnipresence of blue. Midge, one of the first characters seen after the opening chase scene, is associated with yellows and oranges, the colors in which her apartment is decorated, and also wearing red glasses. This signifies that Midge is in contact with her environment, according to Sasaki. The next scene is in Elster’s office, with hues of red and reddish tones. This is a fitting color for the representation of Elster, who, though rarely seen, is the one person in any position of true control in the film, though once his story is played out, he disappears entirely. The first introduction to the character of Madeline, regardless of her true identity, is her in a green dress contrasted with the voluptuous red plush walls of the restaurant. The next time she is seen is getting into her car, appropriately green, completing for the viewer the association of this color with that character. Throughout the film she is amongst green things, such as the green box in the flower shop she enters. She even mentions that she loves the green of the trees, ironically in the Redwoods, another striking contrast of the two colors, though only verbal. The color plays into the mystery and trickery of the story more to fool the reader as well as Scottie as this is a color signifying passiveness.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that psychology has shown different colors to arouse or symbolize different emotions or states of mind. red specifically can symbolize aggression, warning, or danger, and green can signify passivity.
  • Analyzes how midge, one of the first characters seen after the opening chase scene, is associated with yellows and oranges, the colors in which her apartment is decorated, and also wearing red glasses.
  • Analyzes how the color plays into the mystery and trickery of the story more to fool the reader as well as scottie as it signifies passiveness.
  • Analyzes how scottie's apartment is shown with a red door and red curtains within, indicating that what lies inside is danger, as it leads to the love between him and madeline, which is the ruin of both.
  • Analyzes the falseness of the identity of madeline, stating that the color green is so deeply associated with the character that it can be no mistake that this is the same woman.
  • Analyzes how the green of madeline/judy becomes even stranger through the rest of the film. judy's hotel has a green neon sign and the light of that sign fills her room.
  • Analyzes how scottie's color blue symbolizes guilt, and is appropriate for the passive set of colors, the cool set. he carries his sense of guilt throughout the film, reiterated by his color.
  • Analyzes how the curtains are red in scottie's apartment when he asks judy to dye her hair like madeline’s. the necklace that carlotta wore in the picture is red, a caution to judy that something bad is about to happen.
  • Explains that colors in the film have a two-fold significance. they work in psychological realms to denote the mental state of the characters and false clues, denoting feigned mental states.
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