Film Theories and Philosophies of Colour
The Residual Image
Routledge – 2013 – 256 pages
Drawing together theoretical and philosophical debates about the nature of colour, this book examines the significance of colour for film theories of subjectivity and sexual difference. While existing studies on colour and film have focussed on its histories, technologies and aesthetics, an extended analysis of the semiotics and affectivity of colour has yet to be undertaken. This book foregrounds the importance of colour for key concepts in film studies including the gaze, voyeurism, spectacle, and narrative through readings of colour practices in different film forms, from classic Hollywood cinema, melodrama, and film noir, to feminist and experimental films. It argues that colour, as the residual image of film design, different film materials, processes, and media offers a semiotic dimension that allows us to reframe film studies that have tended to be dominated by theories of a sexualised but disembodied gaze. The affectivity of colour is addressed through Freud’s attention to colour sensations and dreams; a Kristevan semiotic as the drive invested underside of the symbolic; Deleuze’s sense of colour as the flux and flow of subjectivity and affect through endlessly shifting cinematographic configurations; Merleau-Ponty’s concept of the phenomena of colour as embodied perception and the intertwining of the subject in and of the visible world; and Luce Irigaray’s reading of colour as the forgotten maternal ground of subjectivity in Western discourse. Watkins offers an innovative and timely analysis of key concepts and philosophies of colour and their impact for film theories of spectatorship, subjectivity, perception, and sexual difference.
1. Introduction: Beyond the Gaze: Theories and Philosophies of Colour 2. Spectacle and the Female Body: Disrupting a Chromatic System 3. Colour Consciousness and Technicolor Design 4. The Disillusion of the Image 5. Memory and the Fragility of Colour 6. Don't Look Now:Transience and Text 7. Colour Fades 8. The (Dis)Articulation of Colour 9. Residual Images
Elizabeth I. Watkins is Research Associate at the University of Bristol.