L'Armée des ombres
Jean-Pierre Melville, France, 1969
This film takes place during the German occupation of France during the 2nd World War, at the time of the resistance. Melville engineered the colour of his film to reflect its sombre time of setting, and to signify that it took place in the past for the viewers of 1969, when the film was released.
He chose not feature any bright colours in his shots and declined all naturalistic treatment of the shots. He used a monochromatic colour palate that reflected the colours of the past, that suggested memories of events gone by, of another era in contrast to the brighter, more lively colours of the present. The monochromatic choices that he made render the shots quite stylized, removing the disorder and dissonance of brighter colours clashing. In this night time scene the choice of colours also creates an oppressive feeling reflecting the subject of the scene, that of an arrest.
This structure of the shots in this film reflect an initial choice, which also gives the film its overall tone.
The tone is set by the choice of costume and setting, by the lighting choices, by the use of filters on the camera lens and by chemical treatment of the film itself in post production.