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Three Movies with Really Nice Palettes

Some movies are visually memorable because the director uses a limited palette (or applies a filter to mute colors). Here are three favorites:

Swept Away: Yes, everyone knows what a crapfest this movie was, but no one can confidently deny the beauty of the cinematography. And when it comes to the palette... Look! Even when they were in a lifeboat drifting toward a vacant island, the male star happened to be wearing some navy blue. Palette: tan, brown, gold, cream, navy blue, black


Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow: This was a so-so movie, but the overall look was remarkable; in addition, some visual effects were added to make everything extra-contrasty and soft-focus like an old-time movie. Palette: sky blue, platinum, black, brown, gold


Saving Private Ryan: Who could forget this movie, whose grave images are reinforced by a singular palette? Skin tones favor the yellow pallor of a sick man, while whites are skewed a cool blue to evoke loneliness and despair. Palette: muddy blue, muddy green, brown, red


Not every movie crew goes to the trouble of applying a palette, even though it elevates film to a higher level. This practice can serve as inspiration to print and web designers, or even people who make decisions about their company's marketing.