Yellow, the base of every flame

Lee’s use of color in Do The Right Thing is incredibly strategic and consistent throughout the film. The color of a character’s outfit alone can tell you about what types of interactions they are going to have with their fellow characters. The three main colors that Lee uses to illustrate points of view and personalities are red, yellow, and blue. Characters who wear these colors often have more speaking roles and offer an alternative perspective to either Mookie or another main character.

The color yellow in particular is used to signal an alternative point of view– which often means a point of tension. Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 3.57.27 PM.png

This scene with Buggin’ Out and Sal highlights both alternative view points, tension, and color. Buggin’ Out has come over to approach Sal about pictures he has on the wall and how he is going to boycott his restaurant until Sal puts up pictures of blacks. This shot in particular illustrates how Sal and Buggin’ Out are at odds. They are speaking to one another through a window– a physical barrier that metaphorically shows that they stand on different sides of an issue. Buggin’ Out’s character is the biggest instigator in the film but there are other characters with smaller roles who instigate and while wearing the color yellow.

Another example of this is the mother who reprimands her son on the street after he almost got hit by a car. She is wearing a yellow crop top in this scene. While most of the people on the street disapproved of the mother spanking her child on the street, she gave all of them explanation for why she spanked her child and how in this life she is entitled to raise her child the way she wants to. The color yellow is the base of every flame and this, I believe, is the reason why the instigators in the film wear yellow.

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Author: Dani

Film enthusiast. Firm believer that Spike Lee is the most cerebral filmmaker post Hitchcock.

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