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Color symbolism throughout the saga

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Deuspater, Feb 11, 2003.

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  1. Deuspater

    Deuspater Jedi Youngling

    Feb 11, 2003
    Having read various interviews with George Lucas, he has often talked about how he uses symbolic colors in Star Wars. As soon as I heard this, I went back and watched the movies and saw all that he was talking about. I find this tool really fascinating, a very neat way to add symbolism to the saga. Right now the prime examples I can think of are: 1)light-saber colors: red, as a color, symbolizes bloodlust, anger, aggressiveness, and, obviously, evil. Blue, on the other hand, has been a traditional symbol of purity, bravery, and loyalty. The same color play goes on in the difference between the Republic Guards we see protecting Chancellor Palpatine in TPM, which are dressed in blue, and the Imperial guards from ROTJ and AOTC who wear red. Lucas has said that he protrays all things imperial in harsh blacks and whites (you can clearly see this in the movie), but that the Imperial guards stand out in their red for a reason. I wonder what that is. Anyone else got more examples of color symbolism in the saga? I'd love to hear some input.
  2. Lars_Muul

    Lars_Muul Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Oct 2, 2000
    This is an interesting topic. If you pay attention to the overall coloring in AOTC, you will notice that the film is very red, while TESB is primarily blue.
    This symbolizes that in AOTC(which also is blue sometimes), war is approaching and there is passion in the air. In TESB(which also is red sometimes), I´m not really sure what it symbolizes :)
  3. Deuspater

    Deuspater Jedi Youngling

    Feb 11, 2003
    Hye guys, just thought of one more. has a color symbolism chart, and it states that yellow, among other things, can stand for deceit and betrayal and greed. Palpatine's eyes in ROTJ are yellow.
    Lars, I think what you're saying about the color scheme of TESB could signify the exact same process, only in reverse. A hidden reference to the fact that hope is rising, Luke has been battered but survived, and that peace may be coming soon. Just a thought. By the way, I agree with your Ep. III, title, only I think it will be "Revenge of the Sith." Maul already mentioned it, and it is a perfect parallel title to "Return of the Jedi." Especially since ROTJ originally was "Revenge of the Jedi," but Lucas decided revenge was not a good jedi trait. Revenge is, however, something the Sith certainly practice. Sorry about that little detour, i'll stay on topic from here on out.
  4. Lars_Muul

    Lars_Muul Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Oct 2, 2000
    I agree about the TESB-symbolism. Nicely put!
    The thing you said about yellow makes me even more certain that the color-scheme of EpIII will mostly consist of yellow. Very fitting, when you think about all the betrayals that will probably take place. Not to mention the seduction of Anakin!
    (I still think it´s gonna be The Sith Revenge, though ;) )
  5. PalpatineAntikristos

    PalpatineAntikristos Jedi Youngling star 3

    Oct 6, 2002
    The most obvious signs of color change are in Palpatine's surroundings. His apartment in TPM is mainly red, a bright, obvious color that stands for both love and war/blood. His office in ATOC is more muted in tones, lighter reds and greys. He still has the blue (peace, clarity) Senate Guards but also the mysterious Crimson Guards. By ROTJ, his guards are all that remain that is red but the rest of his throne room is black and grey. Red for Palpatine I think represents his deception, posing as a man of love but really being a man of war/blood. As the Sith start to reveal themselves and the Empire is formed, the deception decreases, thus less red. Once the Empire is formed, black (evil, darkness)and grey (clouded, ambivalent, foreboding) predominate. Evil and clouded futures/visions, as symbolized by the black and grey, are plain to see. Only Palpatine is unclouded and can see the future.
  6. Ternian

    Ternian Jedi Youngling star 4

    May 16, 2000
    Red is agression:

    - Republic Cruiser
    - Queen Amidala's costumes
    - Nute Gunray's costumes
    - Darth Maul
    - Red chance cube
    - Palpatine's chambers
    - Sith lightsaber

    - Imperial Guards
    - Palpatine's Executive office
    - Jedi fighters/Republic Military Cruisers etc

  7. Padawan915

    Padawan915 Jedi Master star 6

    Oct 1, 2002
    I think a color symbolism that has gone overlooked are the bands in Anakin's braid in AOTC. If you study the bands in the braid carefully you will see three braids, two blue and one red. Now having established the fact that blue = good and red = evil, look at the length that each of the bands is spread about.

    Okay here's the blunt of my theory...

    The first band on the braid is blue. My feeling is that this represents Anakin's good side, or the first 22 or so years of his life while he was still a "good" Jedi/person. Then you will notice that second braid (which is red) is about an equal length down the braid as the first blue one. This in my theory represents Anakin's life in the Dark side of the Force. He lived until ROTJ under the power of the dark side, about another 22 or so years. Then you will notice the final braid, a blue braid. This represents his return to the Good side of the Force. After that, his braid is no more, showing that he flows into the Force.

    It's kinda complicated, but here's a decent shot showing the braid bands. ?[face_plain]


    Where are my pants ?[face_plain] - Pada
  8. D_Lowe

    D_Lowe Jedi Knight star 6

    Aug 15, 2002
    The biggest thing that sticks out about the symbolism of colors is the lightsabers. That's why there isn't orange, yellow, white, teel, colors. Purple wouldn't of been used if Samuel L. Jackson didn't request it.
  9. Vanthorne_OX

    Vanthorne_OX Jedi Master star 3

    Nov 11, 2002
    Agreed. The Star Wars saga offers a diverse palette. Think about what predominant colors come to mind with each episode. Green and brown stand out to me the most for TPM and ROTJ. AOTC is the most diverse because of the many locations involved. But darker hues of blue and either reddish brown or yellowish brown stand out. ANH has a lesser range. White, black, and grey play a heavy part in ANH. ESB is mostly blue for me.

    Does the color of the films have an impact on how much you enjoy them? I enjoy all of the Star Wars saga, but when I think of color and the use of it, I like to think that TPM, AOTC, and ESB catch my eye the most. ROTJ feels the most earth-like in its colors. And ANH shows that even white, black, and grey can be presented in an equally aesthetically pleasing way. Though the brilliance of Yavin really adds a nice touch.

    Also, these three locations and their uses of color really stand out at me:
    [ul][li]The Carbonite Chamber in ESB[/li][li]Naboo (Battlefield in TPM, Theed, Otah Gunga, Lake Retreat, Waterfalls)[/li][li]Coruscant at twilight and night in TPM and AOTC (also Cloud City in ESB)[/li][/ul]
  10. Deuspater

    Deuspater Jedi Youngling

    Feb 11, 2003
    I agree Vanthorne, ROTJ definitely has a green-brown earthy tone to it. For me, colors are a major part of what make a film fun to watch. I mean, I don't know what it is, but when I see those bright red imperial guards, I'm just thinking, "Wow... how ****ing cool is that!"
  11. Darth_Dagsy

    Darth_Dagsy Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 18, 2000
    I'd also like to add a couple of other colour symbolisms that we've all seen in the movies.

    In RotJ, in the Luke, Vader fight, Vader is trying to taunt Luke....trying to get him to tap the dark side. When the camera zooms in on Lukes face, we can see it half in shadow. To me, this symbolises Lukes uncertaintly within. The Light and Dark sides struggling inside Luke...both trying to take charge.

    There is also the Anakin/Dooku fight during AotC, when they are swinging the sabres, and we see the blue and red hues. With Dooku we see the red light illuminating his face. With Anakin, however, we see the blue light AND red light illuminating his face. Again, this is a gesture by Lucas, pointing out Anakins inner conflict....the fight between the good and bad.
  12. Lars_Muul

    Lars_Muul Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Oct 2, 2000
    That´s cool :cool:
    Good spotting, Dagsy!
  13. Jedi Daniel

    Jedi Daniel Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Apr 7, 2000
    Excellent Darth_Dagsy. I never acually noticed this but now I'm thinking aobut it, it's quite true.
  14. MariahJade2

    MariahJade2 Former Fan Fiction Archive Editor star 5 VIP

    Mar 18, 2001
    This also works for Luke's choice of green for his lightsaber. Green is an earth color and the color of new growth, and thus his green lightsaber represents the re-birth of the Jedi through him.

    He also lost the purity of the blue one when he lost his innocence in ESB.
  15. KrystalBlaze

    KrystalBlaze Jedi Master star 5

    Aug 3, 2002
    I never really thought of this before. You notice that Han, Luke and Leai all wear white at some point in the three films, yet we never see Vader or Tarkin or Sidious wearing anything but dark colors.
  16. D_Lowe

    D_Lowe Jedi Knight star 6

    Aug 15, 2002
    Lucas said that he gave the good guys in the original trilogy colors and made the bad guys colorless. That is why the stormtroopers were black and white and the officers didn't wear colors.
  17. JediHunterCommand

    JediHunterCommand Jedi Youngling star 1

    Feb 2, 2003
    Of course, you have to be careful, because in ROTJ Luke wears black a lot.

    But there is excellent symbolism, throughout the saga. Funny how often these things get overlooked.
  18. MariahJade2

    MariahJade2 Former Fan Fiction Archive Editor star 5 VIP

    Mar 18, 2001
    Luke's costume colors represent his growth in the films.

    ANH- White for innocence and purity. He is all potential yet to be formed.

    ESB- He is mostly seen in tan's representing his plunge into the real world, his connection to the Force and the Earth, and darkening of the color points to the revelation of his heritage and the conflict that will bring in him. The struggle between the dark and the light to claim him.

    ROTJ- He wears black because he is poised on the edge between dark and light. He reflects his father but his face is revealed as the contrast to Vader. It is no coincidence that at the end we see the inside white flap on his shirt revealing his choice to follow the path of the Jedi.
  19. Tara

    Tara Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 4, 2002
    I always thought it was interesting and noteworthy that Leia wears nothing but pure white all with her hair up through ANH and the beginning of ESB, and then after she begins to open her heart up to Han and let her guard down and show her passionate side, she wears red and has her hair down..

    After Han is taken from her, she goes back to wearing pure white. Then when he is returned to her, she never wears it again all throughout ROTJ - usually going for earthy, rich tones such as green and brown.
  20. PadmeLeiaJaina

    PadmeLeiaJaina Jedi Grand Master star 6

    May 23, 2002
    GL does a brilliant job of creating real world- yet alien landscapes that always manage to imbed themselves into our minds. Much like a great landscape artist, the SW films landscapes set the mood and tone for a scene as much as the actors and their costumes.

    You often get these contrasts in the films where the characters seem completely at odds with their surrounding environments- take Luke in ANH- he wears clothes that help him to fit perfectly into the desert of Tatooine- the clothes are soft, and muted tonally to match the desert and to fend off the desert heat. When he gets onboard the Death Star his outfit's completely at odds w/ the stark and cold technologically advanced corridors. He stands out and is set apart.

    Now take Anakin.

    In TPM his costume is very similar to Luke in ANH- he fits with the desert, belongs there, and is a part of Tatooine. Although he is a slave- he may not realize it but he is happy and loved with his mother. As he's wisked away from his homeworld- you notice when he wears his desert clothes before the council, or when he's outside of Padme's chambers he seems a stranger or an outsider.

    Yet it's when he wears his first Padawan outfit that he seems most content- even if that's only briefly held at the end of TPM. By AOTC he distances himself from his new life by choosing clothes that stand him apart from the other Jedi- or at least his direct mentors.

    You note his solid black and brown uniform does match well into the thumping metropolis of Coruscant- or he would blend and fit well on the Death Star. His clothes seem to be trying to decide where he belongs as much as his own mind.

    When he returns to Tatooine in AOTC his clothing is now completely at odds with the desert environment. He no longer belongs there- his destiny is uncertain. He stalks onto the sweltering landscape wearing clothes that defy the heat, as if he wishes to conquer the environment itself. In his dark clothes he decides his fate in his first descent into the Dark Side.

    It's also why when he's standing in Luke's spot before heading out across the desert that that scene so sticks in our conscious. His Dark Jedi Apparrel and Anakin's shrouded posture already mark before he hops onto the swoop bike that things are going to end badly. We know this even before the first cords of "Duel of Fates" begins.

    Luke in ROTJ wears all black and returns to Tatooine, much like his father. Much like the parallels in the PT- where Anakin failed, Luke returns victorious. Although you can't really compare Anakin's Tuskin slaugher scene to Luke escaping Jabba- I think that the Geonosis arena and the Sarlacc pit are better scenes to compare. Both father and son win victoriously in these scenes- however, Anakin requires assistance from others whereas Luke singlehandedly orchestrates the victory with his true test to finally happen later in the film.

    Luke's black uniform though does create tension in the scene- had he worn white we would never have doubted that he'd manage to win his friends and his own freedom. It is that stark, black uniform that gives us pause to wonder if he could and would succeed.

    Finally Anakin's last "return" to Tatooine in ANH - he's still in opposition to his surrounding environment. When he boards the Rebel ship- the walls are stark white and Vader's suit utterly clashes with the surroundings. He doesn't belong there- had the walls been a darker gray- his presence and grand entrance would not have been as menacing or as poignant and pregnant with symbolism.

    Lucas' continued use of the b/w themes are just sheer brilliance.
  21. Darth_Saber-master

    Darth_Saber-master Jedi Youngling

    Jun 23, 2003
    You know the man senate chamber? the one with all the floating platforms in TPM and AOTC? well, the colour on the inside is a shade of purple. This shade of purple is the only colour in the galaxy not used for mourning at a funeral.

    Also, in the end of TPM when Obi and Qui are fighting Maul, The jedi are both wearing light colours, and Maul is wearing black, Symbolising Good VS Evil.

    but, why is Yoda green?

  22. Darth_Nubian

    Darth_Nubian Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 21, 2000
    It's also interesting how the White clad Clonetroopers (the saviors for the hero's in AOTC), become the Stormtroopers who are the bad guys in the OT. So the hero doesn't alway wear white. ROTJ also proves that the villan isn't the only one in black (Luke).

    It's very interesting how allegiances are changed throughout the saga.
  23. spyderbyte

    spyderbyte Jedi Youngling star 2

    May 29, 2003
    righteous. i find any kind of symbolism cool, however color symbolism is so much more subtle, and yet has the same depth of meaning. awesome :cool:
  24. JansonYellowAces

    JansonYellowAces Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jun 28, 2002
    I've always thought Jedi wore brown to symbolize their unity with life, or the "Earth."
  25. JediHPDrummer

    JediHPDrummer Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 23, 2002
    Jedi's are Romantic people. They are one with nature, one with the force, one with all living things, the romantic period was a backlash of the enlightment period where spiritual came back in the scene, and iit emphasized your realationship with nature and everyone really. George is a very romantic person, thats how he wrote the jedi.
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