Let me start by saying that I have never had the time to watch this movie in its entirety until now, and I can’t believe what I’ve been missing! Different color schemes are used in different parts of the film which I feel indicate moods corresponding to specific points of the movie. For example, in the scene where Sonny, Michael and Tommy, along with their other mob members, are planning the killing of Virgil Sollozzo and Capt. Cluskey, the lighting is brighter as the men converse. However, when the scene finally comes where Michael must follow through with the kill, the lighting becomes very shadowed and dark. The lighting in these scenes show that during the planning phase of the killings, the Corleone household is brightly lit, possibly indicating hope that their plan will work. The lighting darkens when Michael leaves the house to follow through with the kill hinting that he may die or be injured in the task or that the killing may ruin his life and the life of his family all together. Darker lighting indicates uncertainty or sadness throughout the film while brighter lighting indicates a hopefulness that the Corleone’s plans to spark a mob war will work. Brighter lighting is again seen when Michael goes to live in Italy after the Sollozzo killing. While in Italy, Michael is happy, carefree, in love and unaffected by the goings on of the New York mob scene and the lighting and atmosphere is bright and airy to correspond with the character’s current mind set. Back in New York, Don Vito is healing from his multiple gunshot wounds (from his failed assassination by the Sollozzo family), and the atmosphere is dark, shadowy, and gives off a sad/depressed/concerned vibe. This theme of dark and bright lighting is seen throughout the film and I think it works well to set the appropriate moods of the movie.
Colors used throughout this movie seem to be mostly muted grays, blacks, tans, and whites, except when someone is killed. I found that the blood that spatters after any of the killings is very rich and bright in color. This seems to indicate emphasis whenever anyone is murdered and hints at the importance of every person that is murdered by the Corleone family. Color emphasis and contrast can also be seen in the scene where Don Vito is in the tomato patch with his grandson. The tomatoes seemed to stand out in the midst of the green leaves of the stalks and add emphasis to the importance of the scene seeing as this is where the Don dies. As we have discussed, green and red are color compliments because they are on opposite ends of the color wheel. This makes each one stand out more when in the presence in the other. Because this was such an important scene of the film the bright lighting and color compliments make it more memorable in the viewer’s mind.
What really works about this movie is the use of color to indicate Michael’s decent into the mob world. Originally, Michael was never meant to be involved in the family business; he was supposed to be the college graduate/ war hero. During the first scene, the wedding scene, Michael looks happy, fresh faced and clean cut in his army attire but as the movie continues and he becomes more involved in the family business he starts to wear dark colored suits, his hair becomes more slicked back, and his face becomes much more shadowed, dark and worn. The use of shadows also helps to show Michael’s transition into the mob leader.
Overall, the coloring works well throughout the movie, as does the shadowing, and the lighting. There is nothing that I would change about the artistic and photographic elements of this film because anything different would take away the mood and emotion of the movie. This was an excellent film that exemplified many photographic and visual elements discussed in class.