Thursday, September 25, 2014

Life Lessons- Blue

     In the film Life Lessons directed by Martin Scorsese as a part of New York Stories (1989), middle aged New York painter Lionel Dobie (Nick Nolte) must combat with his lack of inspiration resulting from his assistant, Paulette (Rosanna Arquette ) no longer wanting to be his lover and the fact that his next big show is in only three weeks.Throughout the short film we come face to face with the reality of a man who is so incredibly dependent on other people for his inspiration and how he suffers throughout his artistic process due to not being self sufficient. 
      Many of this film's most intriguing elements deals with the visual representation of Dobie's interaction with his own passion and lack of inspiration. This section of his creative process is highlighted by the color blue. 
      The first time that we, as viewers, see the color blue in Life Lessons is during the first 30 seconds of the film when Lionel steps on tube of paint and it splats! against the white supporting bar of his studio. This image is repeated and reflected again on the beginning credits as it is the first color that is splattered on the title. The color of blue is also incredibly connected to Paulette- or rather the idea of her. While blue shows up on Paulette's door to her room, in her earrings and choices of clothing, it is ultimately her eyes that are the most notable piercing shade. These pops of blue that are associated with the things that Lionel loves is what connects us to the idea that passion is just as much a part of his creative process as the actual act of painting is. The most notable use of blue within lighting design is during Lionel's short dream sequence with Paulette. The two of them are basked in this soft blue light in moments of passion that are completely in Dobie's mind after he sees her bare foot and has the impulse to kiss it. Directly after this Lionel can paint and keep moving in the process of completing his artwork before his deadline. 
    While other colors are present in the Life Lessons the color blue is a direct reflection of the passion that Dobie needs from his "assistants" so he can keep being a successful, respected artist in New York City. 


  1. The analysis of color in Life Lessons AMAZES me. I love how you put it, that "the idea that passion is just as much a part of his creative process". I completely agree- the color blue represents the ideas of sexual desire that Lionel needs in order to paint. It's interesting how the assistant at the end, however, has nothing of blue on her, rather, she wears a black dress ( just like Paulette did when she left Lionel!). Do you think that Lionel's internal struggle with mortality is also highlighted in blue tones?

  2. A really solid analysis of the use of the color Blue in the film. I think you totally understood the use of the color and where exactly is was used in the film. I also appreciate the fact that your overall analysis was specifically focused on the use of blue and not all of the different colors in the film. It allowed you to really cover the entire use of blue and what it did as an aesthetic for the film. Solid post. -WCO

  3. Wow, you pointed out something about this film that I never noticed and it really fascinates me. I like how you focused on something so small, yet something that means so much to the protagonist and overall aesthetic of the film. Really great post! :)

  4. CLARIFY: I am clear on what your blog post is about, although I wish that those two sentences that make up your thesis (second paragraph) were actually put into one sentence and thought - I don't know, something about the way they are written seem like they are disconnected thoughts and really the second sentence completes your idea. Maybe it's the use of the term "this section" - seems to suggest you might be talking about different "sections." Might be better to simplify and just put the color blue idea into the first sentence (and add to the end of your first paragraph)?

    VALUE: I'm being super picky up above because this is overall a great post! This is really great in depth analysis of one element with specific examples. So any criticism I have is going to be getting very picky. You did a smart thing to focus on something small (because every "small" element in this film is anything but small in how it's use and meaning). Also great job in using some images from the film that relate to your points - this is taking full advantage of the medium you are writing in. Great brief synopsis of the film as well - someone who has not seen the film could follow your post and your points.

    CONCERNS: Again, getting picky, I feel like you kind of end examples on the blue light - which is really near the beginning of the film. I just feel like there might be more to say about the color blue in other parts (or the absence of blue?). For how specific you are in your choice of element to discuss I feel like there should be just a little more exploration of it.