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Mar 11, 2024

How Colors Influence Emotions In Movies

In a world full of colors, we tend to forget their significance. However, cinematography is where color expresses its power in delivering and conveying emotions.
How Colors Influence Emotions In Movies

With different associations of these tones and tints, combination and saturation with other colors on the wheel, movies uniquely tell stories through the provocation of emotions. | Source: Adobe

The once-distanced lead characters are now wearing blue instead of red. The sky is slowly turning darker with a tint of yellow, but you do not know why. The silhouette of the scenery through the characters’ eyes turned brighter than blinded the screen in white.

Color is a powerful tool of expression in art—cinematography, photography, paintings, etc. Though color palettes are often used to create the “vibe” of a movie, they play a fundamental role in forming the mood for a scene or a character and foreshadowing upcoming events throughout the movie.

That is why we call them “mood boards.”

The Psychology of Color

If you are into hyperanalyzing the characters’ development or tracking thoughts, the use of color will help you a lot. With different associations of these tones and tints, combination and saturation with other colors on the wheel, movies uniquely tell stories through the provocation of emotions.


Red is a color of intensity that represents the apparent anger and explosive emotions at a movie’s climax. It is pungent, touching, and racing with our heartbeats to the finish line of the movie’s peak conflict. Red is not limited to expressing anger; it also represents love, lust, and passion; in other words, it is a character’s villain arc.

In the climactic conflict of the family, the innocent Linh, the forced-married wife, is strangled between the egotistical fight of older wives and the governor. The scene is covered in anger and red. | Source: The Last Wife movie

Keywords: Passion, love, lust, danger, anger, violence, rage, heat.

Also Read: Victor Vu’s Cinematic Triumph: ‘The Last Wife’ Takes Center Stage In North America


With slightly less warmth than red, orange has a significantly different meaning. On a calm autumn day, the orange leaves fall on the grass bed with gentleness—orange is the peace color amongst the warm tones. Orange might tickle your stomach with excitement and reassurance that the movie has finally reverted to the original order. It will draw your attention to the positive energy, and you might catch a smile because the orange is your buddy in movies.

The sun is setting on the majestic classic rice field of Central Vietnam, Ngan rides Tra Long home after a long day at school. This yellow-tinted scene shows how Ngan’s father figure in Tra Long’s life heals her childhood. | Source: Dreamy Eyes movie

Keywords: friendliness, warmth, humor, happiness.


If a movie is a piece of paper, yellow would controversially be on both sides of the page. With a hint of optimism rather than madness, yellow is used for a character's hopeful and sickening behaviors, projecting the reality of human emotion. It is indeed the color of deception. It would lure you into limbo, make you question the potential happy ending of a movie, and hit you with a reality check that makes you ponder: “Duh, this movie is obviously going to end in tears!” Although it is undeniably a happy color.

Based on the story of Hue’s upper class, this scene from the movie reflects Ly Linh’s vengeance for power as she discovers her family's reality. | Source: Camellia Sisters movie

Keywords: sickness, madness, sunshine, imagination, deceitful.


The characters are running in the forest carefreely, and it is a part of nature that green presents the fresh and pure form of Mother Earth. As a film rolls along, scenes with a green tint usually soothe your eyes and mind. Easing your minds, green, however, can also take you on another adventure of internal conflict: jealousy. It establishes the character’s emotional nostalgia and weighs a plunge in the audience’s stomach, signaling a climax in the movie.

On the journey of figuring out the world as a quiet country girl working as a maid for a wealthy family, Mui finds herself falling in innocent love with one of the sons’ friends. This scene reflects on her first encounter with envy as the scene is covered in green. | Source: The Scent of Green Papaya movie

Keywords: nature, calm, contentment, jealousy, envy.


The slightly oscillating wave on the ocean or the vast sky, blue, owns a variety of emotions itself. A relief that the storm is finally over, blue will make you feel relief, loosening the pressure and allowing you to believe in peace. As if blue-tinted scenes could solve everything at the movie's end, this color unites the characters’ energy for a satisfactory finale. As we enter the cold tone colors, blue also represents sadness and loneliness. Somewhere amongst those extensive shades of blue, the deep coldness of blue could spear through your emotions and leave a hollow feeling of loss.

Hugging each other in the bustling Saigon, Mai and Duong share a moment of unity and love, bonding under the deep blue sky and the dark blue silhouette of the towers. | Source: Mai movie

Keywords: loyalty, unity, safety, order, coldness, sadness.

Colors as a medium

Movies, at the end of the day, are the artistic representation and reflection of a human’s imagination and experience, allowing audiences to live their emotions through a cycle of events. Colors, which appear everywhere in our lives, are a tool that directors use to trigger emotional responses across all genres: horror, romance, thriller, sci-fi, etc.

Playing around with colors can create different combinations and, therefore, evoke feelings from the audience, whether it be high-saturated complementary colors, monochromatic use of one particular color, or dampened pastel colors. The world is colorful, and with the natural hues of events, movies utilize colors to paint your interpretation.