“Thirteen,” frankly portrays the downward spiral of a Tracy, a 13 year old, who is introduced to a world of sex and drugs at an extremely young age by Evie, one of her fellow peers. The color scheme in “Thirteen,” directed by Catherine Hardwicke does not represent the sunny, overly saturated colors that are typically shown in films set in California. Instead the movie offers a cool desaturated color palette, mostly full of desaturated hues such as cyan-blue, red, and magenta, creating the feeling of isolation, confusion. The only time the color scheme differs from this is when she’s having extreme emotions, such as extreme angry, or very blissful. Then the color shifts to a more red-yellow and orange hue, becoming more saturated. The color scheme aids the story and allows the reader to fully experience the direness of Tracey’s situation.
* I am going to contrast the drastic change between the first few scenes and the last scene of the film. *
The first scene starts off at the height of Tracy’s innocence. She is still the perky, dorky, unnoticed student in middle school, and she has yet to be introduced to the crazy Californian nightlife. Tracy and her life-long friend are walking side my side, dressed in a blue sweatshirt and blue jeans of similar shades. There isn’t much in the background besides brown soil and the green of the trees and leaves but the colors aren’t on the opposite side of the color wheel so it creates a very desaturated setting, which gives the scene an ominous tone to it, as if the worst is yet to come.
(her brother Mason, who is already corrupted)
As she enters middle school, black is introduced to the color scheme, and in just a scene later; the film becomes significantly less bright. The characters that already seem corrupted by society, sex, and drugs are decked out in various black items, whether it is a wristband, a shirt, or a pair of shoes, which makes Tracy’s blue attire seem even more juvenile than the first scene.
When we get into her house, the 1 color hue scheme is a bit overwhelming at first. Her mom is dying a characters hair blue, the walls are blue, Tracey’s notebook is blue, so are other miscellaneous items in the house, further enforcing the cold atmosphere, as if something isn’t right within the household.
Surprisingly, the color hue shifts to a desaturated orange and yellow, rather than blue when Tracy first starts doing drugs, it’s as if she’s blissful for once in her life, although the false happiness doesn’t last very long. The first time she comes home high, there is an orange light illumining the room, contrasting with the green wall in the background, making everything appear mystical and mysterious. There are even red, yellow, green and blue cards she drops around her and suddenly the film is saturated more than ever before. She also starts wearing more color such as purples, pinks and reds
Finally, when Tracy’s blissful stage ends, and she begins spiraling even more out of control, into a destructive path, the desaturated color’s come back. She has reached her lowest point during the last few scenes, after it’s reported that her friend Evie, ratted her out for stealing, doing drugs, and cutting, the hue dramatically shifts to a dark cyan, full of gray. The color has an extreme blue tint to it, but the characters inside the house are all wearing black tops, which contribute to the melodramatic setting. The color gradually gets bluer as her mom confronts her and the arguing intensifies.
Color plays a large role in evoking emotions out of the audience and setting the tone of the film. The mood of "Thirteen" could not have been created without the drastic color scheme.