The Yellowness of Social Network
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The Yellowness of Social Network

Anton: The movie «Social Network» has a very good plot, and cinematography is almost exemplary, but really all falls apart at the first impression it makes: the color scheme. Kate: What’s wrong with the color scheme? I liked it, I think it brings the movie together. Anton: It brings the movie together in terms that it all looks like you look through a beer glass. Although I’ll admit, it makes it easier to watch it in the dark. Kate: Actually, yellow tints and dimmed lights are Fincher’s trademark. His films are usually cynical and unhappy, that’s what dimmed lights represent. Anton: Seems like most of his movies are filmed in a slum anyway, I’ll give you that. But he even makes the office scenes look greenish by combining blue buildings and yellow filter, making stuff look very samey. It’s like he’s making the same movie again and again. Kate: If you pay close attention to the scenes you will notice that he never uses the same tone of yellow. While I agree with your remark about how most of his movies feature a lot of yellow-tinted scenes, I must say he puts a lot of thought into that. It’s not the same yellow filter he just runs over the whole footage when the movie is filmed. On the contrary, he tweaks every scene towards a certain yellowish tone to put the audience in the right mood. Anton: And what mood exactly does the color yellow put the audience into? Is honey mustard going to make me happy, and orange bumblebee put me into a dreamy place? Kate: The opening scene where Mark and his girlfriend sit in the bar is of a brownish color and this corresponds to the mood of the scene — a young couple that has communication problems breaks up. The scene lightens up as Mark gets up and goes home because the pre-breakup tension is gone, the mood is different. Anton: Exactly, to have us some more yellow and brown. The tension is still there, as he goes home clearly thinking and replaying the dialogue in his head. Is it that hard to put some blue in, for god’s sake? Kate: Oh, but he does use blue to highlight the change of the mood! Let’s take a look at the next scene. Yes, he is still full of emotions after his breakup, he opens his blog to vent, he drinks some beer and then he’s starting to work on Facemash. The scene is bright yellow, but the outside world is blue showing the contrast of Mark’s emotional state and the rest of the world. Later in the scene the head of security is woken up with a demand to take Facemash down. This episode is also blue because the head of security doesn’t belong to Mark’s world, and his mood is completely different — while Mark is drunk, concentrated and full of emotions, the head of security is confused and irritated about the call. Anton: Ah, yes, the great mood change from being irritated to being irritated. Yes, I agree that the movie does change the colors to show the “other world” without students, but it is too small a payoff. The entire movie is in yellow just so a couple of minutes worth of footage could be free of this madness? It almost feels like paying five bucks for a cup of Starbucks coffee. You get silver lining on the bottom of the cup full of disappointment. Kate: Yes, basically, everything bad that happens is blue-tinted. Such scenes are rare and thus much more off-setting. Yellow color creates a cinematic atmosphere, it makes us more immersed in the story bacause it’s such a deep and vibrant color, you know? And just when you get comfortable and things are looking good for the characters, the story takes a sudden turn, something terrible happens and you’re caught off guard. I think Fincher is a real artist. Anton: Yellow is deep and vibrant, sure. But the way he uses colors it’s the only vibrant color there. Nothing in the movie really stands out color-wise and everything seems monochromatic. Fincher is akin to a fascist dictator who has put a yellow filter in charge and decimates everyone who falls out of line. Thus the film loses a lot of variety in colors. Kate: Yes, as I have said before, yellow tints are everywhere. But look at how they are created — most of the night scenes are illuminated using lanterns and street lights. They are bright but the light scatters and there are also a lot of dark parts in every scene creating a dynamic outline. Each scene may not feature a wide range of colors, but it still has a flow. Anton: I am not disputing his work with lighting, they create a nice outline and a good profile of the scene. But when we consider the color, the outlook looks pretty bleak. But overall, I think, every director has their own color scheme that they like to use, and it’s strange to blame Fincher for trying to do something different from default Hollywood style of blue and orange. While it’s not my favorite, it’s at least something that stands out. Kate: Yeah, I think I went a bit defensive here because I really liked the movie so your remarks felt a bit personal. I’m glad we talked it through.

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