Le Rayon vert
Eric Rohmer, France, 1986
Looking at this scene we could believe that Rohmer was just happy to capture the random colours of the extras and actors clothing, as they appear to be normal and haphazardly everyday. Looking closer at it we find, importantly, that the colours have been a discretely organized in a very controlled way. The random colour clashes and matches are not by accident, Rohmer has chosen the colours of the costumes with painstaking attention, according to the colours of the scene itself. Rohmer’s practice of costume design, except in ‘costumed dramas’, was to ask the actors to wear their own, real life clothes, so as to make them feel at ease, and also to cut down on the costume budget for his productions.
In the first shot on the swing, where the setting is totally green the two wee girls wear rainbow coloured swim suits. In the scene at the table Rohmer starts off with a shot of the two lovers in t-shirts with washed out, slightly soppy colours, who have in front of them a series of objects in similarly pallid colours. They also have similarly coloured hair and are sat in chairs with brown interiors. He then moves on to a shot where the colour red comes to the fore, with the man’s turban and Marie Rivière’s body warmer. On the table a plate has pink and red flowers on it. Their seats are white with red stripes. In this way the red comes to dominate the image that we see. Then he pans to another arrangement where Marie Rivière is on the left side of the image this time chatting with a girl in blue denim overalls.
Despite appearances to the contrary the colours of the scene have been perfectly orchestrated by Eric Rohmer.