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SPN 7.12 - use of color and light

The cinematography and lighting of this episode were extremely well planned out and added a great deal to the depth of the story.  I've always been impressed with the care taken with the visual presentation of SPN and I thought this episode was particularly well done.

In this episode, color and lighting told a large part of this story visually.  Color was used to distinguish between time periods.  In addition, red was linked with Kronos and time.  Clothing colors were used to tie the two groups of hunters together across time.

Most of the scenes from 1944 had a yellow or red light in them and the colors used in the scenery tended to be reds, olive or greens on the yellow side of the spectrum, gold and deep browns.  Even the blues look muted or more gray.  There was a lot of leather and dark wood. It worked really well to set a tone for the scenes shot in the past.  Not quite the sepia tones of really old photographs but not using the whole spectrum either.  It made for some beautiful film.


The colors go really well with the green army uniform seen on the soldier passing by.

The scenes in the present time are filmed in a more natural light at the beginning of the episode and then toward the end as Sam and Jodi work to get Dean back, the light becomes very blue.  We'll get to that in a bit.

The way color was used carried over into the clothing.  The clothing in the past tends to stay in the same palette as the rest of the surroundings.  Clothing colors also provide a visual connection between the hunters working in 1944 and the ones working in the present.  In addition, the victims and witnesses seem to be grouped by clothing color.

When Dean ends up in 1944, he's wearing browns and greens that fall in with the color scheme from the 1944 scenes.  He's arrested and questioned by a police officer wearing a traditional dark uniform.  There's an obvious difference in what these two men are there for.  

Then Ness arrives on the scene and all of that changes.

The symmetry between Dean and Ness in this picture is a big clue to the fact that they are both cut from the same cloth. (sorry)  Both have a brown jacket over a greenish shirt or suit and the same hair color and posture here.  Here's Ness when we actually get to see him from the front.

Then we find out that these two are both hunters and have the same mission.  The browns and greens stay with the hunters with the addition of blue as the episode progresses.  This also happens in the present time.  Sam's wearing a shirt of the same tones with a touch of red added and when Sheriff Mills arrives, she's got a brown jacket on.

Later when we meet Ezra, another hunter in 1944, it looks like her suit might be really dark brown.  It's harder to tell.

As the episode goes on, Sam, Ness and Ezra stay with the dark browns, reds and greens and Dean and Jodi move into blues and grays. There are more similarities between these pairs than just the colors they wear.

While Jodi spends a good deal of the time researching and interviewing witnesses, she also spends some time looking after Sam by bringing food and making him sleep.  In the past, Dean's spent quite a bit of time looking after Sam.  Ness doesn't participate in the research as much as Sam but he's a creative hunter. He doesn't shrink from using the potential victim as a hostage which is something soulless Sam might have done.  Ness also finds meaning other than revenge in hunting and Sam seems to be at that point too.

As the episode goes on and Sam and Jodi get closer to figuring out how to get Kronos and Dean back to the present, the lighting around them becomes very blue.  Maybe it's because they're getting closer to Dean or maybe it just makes a nice contrast with the reds and golds from Kronos and 1944.

They stay in blue light even as the red from Kronos starts to make its way back to the present.  

All the way through the episode Kronos and time are associated with red.  

Even his victims or potential targets at one point have red on as well as blue.

Even Dean.

At the end, when they get Kronos back and Sam stabs him, the red becomes less and the blue light becomes more prominent.

His heart beats like the ticking of a clock as he's dying.

Throughout the episode the hunters in the present interview witnesses.  The witnesses also have similar colors for their clothing as well.  Mostly pinkish reds, browns and grays.  Sam is a witness also and maybe the red in his shirt could go with that.  Maybe that's just pushing it.

Witness number one's got an afghan blanket and similar ones show up with another witness.


Lila's got several afghans around her as well as the yarn in the foreground.

A last couple of shots showing similar action with the two different kinds of lighting.

In the end though, it doesn't seem to matter where they are in time, when they reflect on the people they've lost, it's a pretty similar picture with both brothers in the shadows.

All caps from Home of the Nutty or true_fellings


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
I love Show always changing the lighting/coloring when the boys time-travel or visit alternate dimensions. And the result here looks like the crew was really excited to do this. The blue color of the current time and the reds of 1944 also help to differentiate the two time periods and the intensity of the blue grows especially when things get more dramatic.

You make a good case with the colors on our hunters! Great catch!
Jan. 19th, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
I think they must have really liked putting it all together. They seem like a pretty creative bunch and it's probably fun to have something like this to sink their teeth into. I'm wondering how long it took to make the 1944 street set. Just the interiors of the diner and tailor shop must have taken a while plus they had at least four different house sets. You can probably tell from how much I posted that I really liked the filming. Thanks for reading and commenting. I love to get your take on it too.

(And I really liked the cars.)
Jan. 20th, 2012 12:09 am (UTC)
Good catch on the afghans showing up with multiple players! When we met the first guy wrapped in his, I flashed on Andy and Chuck in their introductory robes.

Now, as I stop to think about it, I see a link between this episode's needlework and the webs the show has used occasionally. One is intended as a trap and the other meant to provide comfort, but both are woven with some design and deliberate effort? (I'd feel like this idea wasn't so much of a stretch if only the afghan patterns were more web-like.)

We've also seen similar blue plaid on a LOT of females, especially waitresses and on the ones supporting Sam. I can quickly remember the waitress from Jump the Shark and the one encouraging Sam in Free to Be You and Me (...no one has ever done anything so bad that they can't be forgiven.)

The way you put together your ideas and demonstrated how the show told this story definitely got me thinking. Thanks!
Jan. 20th, 2012 01:59 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure Lisa had a blue plaid shirt early in season 6. I think you're on to something about people wearing them being support for Sam and Dean. I don't remember any baddies in them.

I wouldn't have noticed the afghan if we hadn't had one that looked a lot like it when I was a kid. I really liked witness number one, especially how he talked with his hands.
Jan. 20th, 2012 06:59 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure Lisa had a blue plaid shirt early in season 6.

Of course! And so was Kathy Kristy Ruby! (after she got dressed) in 4x01 Lazarus Rising. (Now I'm dying to remember Mary, Ellen, or Jo in blue plaid.)
Jan. 21st, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering too. Nothing comes to mind for those three but I didn't really pay much attention before that shot of Lisa. Krissy, the kid from 7.11, ends up in blue plaid when Dean shows up. Before that she's in a blue hoodie. Garth was in green for most of 7.08 but at the end saying goodbye he's got blue plaid on too. Becky's in plaid with blue in it even though that's not the predominant color. Now I'm gonna have to go look for some of the other people they've worked with. It's like crack, one hit and you're hooked....
Jan. 21st, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
:D I'm right there with you on how easily I get obsessed about questions like this. I know Anna was introduced in the blue scrub pants and white tee.

Did you notice in last night's rerun (7.03 The Girl Next Door) that young Amy Pond was wearing blue and white diagonal stripes (I thought it was plaid until I looked closely.) and shot against blue and white plaid kitchen wallpaper and grabbed a blue and white plaid towel when Sam spilled? It was all muted by the flashback lighting, but jumped at me after our conversation. At the end when her son shows up in the doorway, he's in blue plaid and a hoodie.

I also remembered Becky often in plaid since I posted last. I think of hers as mostly green plaid so our ~ great minds ~ are thinking alike. Thanks for mentioning Krissy!
Jan. 22nd, 2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
So I had some time while the kid did homework and I looked at Jo, Ellen, and Mary.  Jo only wore plaid once and it was red, otherwise it was non-blue solids.  Mary mostly wore white and pink with tiny flowers. In the Song Remains The Same, Mary's blouse has a lot of blue embroidery around the neck and she wears it under a brown jacket (common combo).  At the end she's got a blue maternity dress on.  In What Is..... her dress she wears to dinner is really dark blue.  (Carmen wears a lot of blue.  The academic guy has a blue plaid shirt.)  Ellen wears blue plaid quite a bit, most recently when she was married to Bobby.  She's wearing it when she dies.  At one point she's got a blue and white plaid bar rag.  

A lot of the women in the beginning of S1 wore blue - Hailey, Sarah, Andrea and Lucas, Layla. Other times blue shows up on people interacting with the boys are Madison, hotel cleaner Ruby, future!Cas and Sam's hook-up from Sex and Violence.  Gordon's wearing blue plaid in Hunted.  Browsing through, there were quite a few times that people are in blue and white hospital clothes - Anna, coma-girl Ruby, Bobby, Cas, Jodi, Dean and Tessa.

But this is geeky (but fun) in the extreme so I'll go get a life now....8-)
Jan. 24th, 2012 10:16 pm (UTC)
At one point she's got a blue and white plaid bar rag.

Oh - I'd forgotten this! I connected Amy's towel to Dean draping one over his shoulder in 4.01 Lazarus Rising (when he goes to Bobby and before he tracks down Sam). Since both Dean and Ellen were hanging out in Bobby's kitchen, that repetition is good continuity.

Thanks for looking up all those examples. I really do get a kick out of reading through and trying to visualized them all even if I don't have anything profound to contribute. It's still too long until we get a new episode so maybe this weekend I'll go reread the old blue color metas from early in the series.
Jan. 25th, 2012 02:08 am (UTC)
By the time we're done with mini-hiatus, we'll be able to write a dissertation. We'll have to think of a long convoluted title. 8-)

I didn't remember Dean with the towel in 4.01. I started watching in season 4 and I didn't pay nearly as much attention as I do now to all the little details. I'd like to go back and randomly grab a couple of eps to really look at and see what I'd pick up now that I hadn't noticed or to see what parallels they've made with later eps. I'm learning a lot about filming and scene composition and I doubt I would have picked that up if it hadn't been for SPN. I find I look at art differently too. I love to learn new stuff so it's all been really good.
Jan. 20th, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
Great selection! Some of these are just breath-takingly beautiful, the gorgeousness truly comes out in the stills - and also thanks to your talent in picking the perfect frames of course! Your screencap commentaries are so enjoyable!
Jan. 21st, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks. 8-)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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