Minnelli's Yellows: Illusion, Delusion and Impressionism on Film
Hext, Kate J.
This article takes up the very current concern with colour on film in order to revisit the films of "the most committed colourist of mid-twentieth-century American cinema" (Coates 2011: 14): Vincente Minnelli. In particular, it concerns Minnelli’s use of yellow as a visual effect in An American in Paris (1951), Ziegfeld Follies (1946) and Lust for Life (1956). The point I wish to make is two-fold: first I argue that Minnelli uses the particular colour of yellow to suggest the ambivalence of aesthetic illusions/delusions and, second, I argue that this is directly influenced by Minnelli’s oft-mentioned but little-discussed interest in Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Decadence. In making this argument, the article looks closely at the cultural and aesthetic significance of yellow in the nineteenth century, Minnelli’s interest in these areas (such as his study of James Abbott McNeill Whistler), and the way in which yellow appears variously as a signifier of aesthetic revelry in his films.
Copyright Subaltern Media.
Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. ? - ?