Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Palette Cleansers: Canyon Passage

I debut a new feature this week at Movie Mezzanine that elaborates on the use of color in a film in establishing mood, character, narrative, themes, and the like. The feature will be called Palette Cleansers, because puns. Anyway, our first selection is Jacques Tourneur's superb, somewhat neglected Canyon Passage, his first Western and first color film. The film has many qualities worthy of recommendation, from its sparse storytelling that belies a dense plot of character relationships and racial politics to the terrific performances it gets from its cast (especially Dana Andrews, who gives one of his finest here). What stands out most, though, is Tourneur's use of color, every bit as subtle but showy as his shadow work and capable of deftly delineating the multiple leaps in perspective and POV. The handful of stills featured are only a fraction of the aesthetically beautiful but meaningful shots in the film.

My full piece is up now at Movie Mezzanine.

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