Tom Ford in his beautiful movie “A single man” uses a lot of yellow and gold colors. “A single man” is the story of George Falconer (Colin Firth), a middle-aged English college professor living in Los Angeles, which takes place over the course of a single day. George Falconer lost his boyfriend, he is in pain for several months and one day he decides to commit suicide.
Tom Ford commented the color palette of the movie as follows: “Well, it was to help us understand what George was feeling. At the beginning of the day he’s depressed. Everything is flat. Color is flat. He’s not seeing color. His flashbacks are vivid in his mind because there are moments when he’s alive. The color heightens when George really starts to look at thing and the beauty of things starts to pull on him. So I wanted the audience to feel that, to experience what George was feeling and as the beauty of the world starts to pull on him, by the time that we’re at the end of the film he’s living in Technicolor, very vivid. That was the point of the color.” (see Interview of Tom Ford)
The memories of George are very dear, sacred to him, therefore there is a lot of gold and yellow. Life is a treasure as we see a lot of gold and yellow during George’s day.
This led me to think about Johannes Itten who in his marvelous book “Art of Color” talks a lot about color expressions, in particular about yellow and gold. Itten says that the golden color is the sublimation of substance, emitting subtly, it is opaque and easy as pure vibration.
In former times, gold was often used in painting. It meant a luminous, light-emitting substance. Golden arches of Byzantine cathedrals as well as the background of paintings by old masters acted as a symbolic space of unearthly world, a wonderful kingdom of sun and light. Golden nimbus of the saints were a sign of their special insight. The symbol of the light of heaven could only be gold. “To see the light” in common language is to understand the truth hidden before. Saying that some person has “a light head” is calling him smart. Yellow as the lightest of the colors symbolizes mind, cognition.
Itten refers to Grunewald whose Jesus Christ ascending to heaven, wrapped in a yellow glow, is an expression of the universal wisdom; to Konrad Witz who painted “Synagogue” using a lot of yellow to give it an expression of intelligence and inclination to meditation. Whenever there is a notion of truth the yellow color appears. Obscured truth is a sick truth or non truth at all. So muddy or dim yellow color will express jealousy, treachery, duplicity, doubt, disbelief and madness. In Giotto’s painting “The Kiss of Judas” and in Holbein’s “The Last Supper” Judas is portrayed in the dim yellow dress.
I do not know how to end this post. Maybe just saying that this wonderful kingdom of sun and light painted by ancient masters is in our life. Let’s change our rose-colored glasses on yellow-colored ones!!!