In film, color is communicative, and in Denis Villeneuve's Sicario, color speaks volumes about not only the war on drugs, but the war raging inside ourselves to define what is moral and what is immoral.
In this enlightening video essay, the team over at Digging Deeper investigates Villeneuve's and DP Roger Deakins' use of color to show the audience not only where each character lands on the moral spectrum, but also the moral ambiguity inherent in the human experience.
Sicario's story is similar to many others -- the rookie cop who realizes the institution in which he/she wishes to fight justice, is in actuality itself corrupt (Serpico, Training Day, Casualties of War, etc.). Kate (Emily Blunt) is an "idealistic FBI agent" who gets signed on to assist in fighting the war on drugs along the U.S./Mexican border, but starts to realize that her fellow agents may not share her moral compass.
In fact, morality could be seen as another character in Sicario, along with the colors it imbues. Villeneuve and Deakins chose different colors to represent certain ideals of morality, like blue for justice, black for corruption, and beige for the true morally ambiguous nature of human beings without labels.
We see the storytelling power of color in the protagonist Kate. In the beginning of the film she wears bold blue colors, but as time goes on, it gets desaturated to a bluish grey. The video suggests this is a metaphor for the gradual degradation of her idealism and ultimate loss of faith in the justice system.
In what other ways does Sicario use color to tell its story? What Let us know in the comments.