Trivia

Hard

Which Movie Featured A Very Limited Color Palette In A Nod To Its Comic Book Origins?

Batman
Dick Tracy
The Crow
Hellboy

Answer: Dick Tracy

The 1990 film Dick Tracy, based off the 1930s-era detective comic strip, featured memorable caricature-like characters, beautiful sets, and stylized costumes that captured the feel of the era. In addition to all those carefully selected suits, cars, and sets, there was one overarching element that linked together everything from the design of the posters for the movie to the lighting gels selected on set: color.

Dick Tracy star and director Warren Beatty wanted to bring the essence of the limited-color printing methods used for the 1930s comics into the modern cinema so that the strong contrasts between reds, greens, blues, and yellows were preserved. Further, not only did he focus the film’s palette around those colors, but the shades of the four colors therein are kept fairly consistent such that the red of a building on the street and a car parked down the street from it (as well as the red tie of the man stepping out of the car) are all the same shade. See the image here wherein Beatty’s tie and the red light outside the office are the same vibrant shade of red.

In addition to the color choices, they also opted to tightly manage the framing of each scene and keep the camera in a static position, free from panning, as if the viewer were reading the original comic and watching the action unfold panel by panel. The resulting film, rich with color and high contrast scenes combined with the static scene framing, presented a memorable viewing experience atypical to what audiences of the day were used to

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