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Glass: Shyamalan’s Secret to Creating Great Characters

Small town critic
August 30, 2019

Since the 1920s, when films started being shot in color, the colors themselves have become important elements of filmmaking.

We all remember how we felt when we saw Dorothy’s world change from black & white to color in the Wizard of Oz. Even in modern film, we see how color makes a big impact--symbolically or metaphorically--such as the red dress in Schindler’s List. 

One of the filmmakers who is a master at layering different film elements, including color for maximum effect, is M. Night Shyamalan.

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Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy & Bruce Willis in 'Glass'

In his latest creation Glass, he used different colors to help the audience understand his characters and their situations better. Glass is the last film of a trilogy where we see Shyamalan take on the superhero genre.

This emphasis on color in the film Glass is very overt, even showing up in movie posters for the movie. David Dunn, played by Bruce Willis, is often seen as the hero in this trilogy. His character is connected with the color green because Shyamalan felt it was psychological associated with life giving properties. The color green is often linked with plants and their ability to grow.

Kevin Wendell Crumb, played by James McAvoy, is one of the “super villains” in this movie. Kevin is a man who has twenty-four personalities, one of whom is called The Beast, who has super strength and toughness. Mustard is the color that represents Kevin in this movie.

Shyamalan thought this color would help people associate Kevin with the robes of a Buddhist or Hindu monk. He saw Kevin acting like a type of preacher who was searching for more people like him, in order to help save them.

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James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb

Elijah Price, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is the mastermind of this series of movies. He is bathed in purple, which allows him to take on majestic and royal qualities.

Besides giving his characters distinct color pallets, in every scene a close examination of the colors use reveal another interesting tidbit. When the characters believe in the comic book world, we as the audience notice how dominant the primary colors tend to be. However, when the characters don’t believe in this comic book world the colors, the world reverts to a more monochromatic landscape.

Even though color might not seem to make a difference in what is happening on-screen, subtle but intentional use of color draws the audience’s attention, allowing the filmmaker to add several more layers of meaning to scenes. No matter what you think of Shyamalan, he does a good job of layering such elements to make films that can be understood on many levels.

What movie’s use of color has captured your imagination? What colors do you think help enhance a movie which ones put you off? Leave them in the comments below!

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