Many colour films are not in colour at all.
That is to say, they are actually black and white, but instead of black and white they use dark blue and yellow in one scene, grey and red in another and so on and so forth. In other words, colour is always kept to a relatively simple palette.
Watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy for an example of this, or the golden browns of some period films and you'll see what I mean.
Red Desert was the first colour film by Michelangelo Antonioni, a director who had made a misnomer of the phrase Black and White. Watch L'Avventura: it is as colourful in its variety of shade and grain as any 'colour' film. Black and white indeed. With a predictable unpredictability, Antonioni used his first colour film to portray and to some extent denounce the greyness of a newly industrialized Italy. Colour when it comes is often a pollutant. 'Why is the smoke yellow?' asks Monica Vitti's son. 'Because it's poisonous' is her reply.
The fruit and vegetables on the market stand are grey. The trees are leafless and white, the sea is grey. Fog and factory smoke invades scenes making them colourless and flat. Even Monica Vitti's newly dyed red hair, isn't that red.
John Bleasdale is a writer. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, Il Manifesto, as well as CineVue.Com and theStudioExec.com. He has also written a number of plays, screenplays and novels.