I went to check out Spike Jonez’ Her in theaters this past weekend and it easily became my favorite film of the year as I fell in love with its setting, characters, and overall complexity. I decided to check it out again the other night because I was overly excited that my cousin was going to watch it for the first time. During this second viewing I discovered a Reddit post questioning the color use in the movie and how they directly relate to the characters, so of course this held my attention throughout my second view and I came up with some very interesting relations between characters and the color palette in the movie. I posted this already as a comment on that Reddit post, but wanted to add in screenshots and post it here as well!
Spoilers! There are many major spoilers within this post relating to Her, and I wouldn’t want to ruin such a beautiful film by not giving a warning, so if you haven’t seen it yet, turn back!
This is going to get lengthy, I’ve added in screenshots to help, so try and stick with me. I think that:
Red/Pink/Orange = Acceptance and love
- Theodore is wearing this color during the majority of the film. In the beginning I think he is accepting of himself and his lifestyle. While it might not be his ideal or happiest situation, he has come to terms with everything. This only increases as he accepts his relationship with Samantha and everything she teaches him. Amy also wears pretty much all red (after her and Charles split which I’ll get to) because she has come to terms with her situation, and is also the most accepting about people having relationships with their OS, including herself.
Blue = Sadness and/or discomfort
- Catherine is I think always wearing blue. She is pretty much always sad/unhappy and uncomfortable. From how she is described, she seems to be uncomfortable with herself and her writing. She never feels good enough. She also is completely uncomfortable and upset with Theodore dating his OS.
- I think another very important scene with blue is when the surrogate enters their relationship. Theodore is immediately uncomfortable but then when it switches to the night of, he is wearing a blue shirt and is just totally upset and uncomfortable with the situation.
- Another important use of blue was on the double date with Paul and Tatina. While they were wearing white beforehand, they are now in blue for this scene and Samantha makes things uncomfortable and dampens the mood with her comment about people dying and her basically being superior.
Yellow = Uncertainty and confusion
- Yellow is used less, but pops up in unique scenes. The first one I noticed it in was when Theodore goes on the date with Olivia Wilde’s character. He never seems sold on the blind date until Samantha pushes him into it, but interestingly enough, he’s wearing yellow when he goes on the date, which ends in a strange way where Theodore is left very confused.
- Next was when he first encounters the little girl’s reaction to him dating his computer. While she doesn’t fully understand, she brings up the point of her being in the computer and not having a physical form. I think this is the first time Theodore has to question his relationship with Samantha. He is confused and uncertain about their relationship for the first time.
- Then when she leaves and he eventually finds out about her other relationships, he is wearing yellow like you said. Throughout that entire scene he is confused, uncertain, and again questioning where she is, what has happened to her, and then eventually their entire relationship because of her other relationships. When he wears yellow he seems to have hesitant “is this real” moments.
White = Neutrality/Neutral acceptance
- I think that white, while being the most general color, represents a type of general neutrality or neutral acceptance during important scenes and when it is used on main characters. In the beginning, when we are first introduced to Amy and Charles, the second scene they appear in, with the documentary footage, Amy is wearing a light mix of white and red. We see that they eventually split, but I think they are in a neutral acceptance for what their relationship has become, and at first they unwillingly accept it, but once they split, Amy only wears vibrant red.
- Next, I noticed it when Theodore first tells Paul and Tatina that Samantha is an OS (pictured above). Paul suggests the double date, yet neither of them hesitate or question him dating his OS, but also don’t openly accept it. Again sort of a neutral or neutral acceptance. I think white comes into play a little more with color blends, but I’ll get there.
Now I think the end of the film really beautifully combines these and shows off the full color spectrum. It covers such a magnificent range of emotions and has made me cry both times I’ve watched.
Starting with the scene where the Alan Watts OS is introduced, Theodore is wearing a red robe with a white shirt and underwear. He begins the scene being fully accepting of his relationship with Samantha yet becomes neutral and semi-accepting after the interaction with Alan and her evolving more.
The next scene he is wearing Yellow which can represent the transition to his confusion and uncertainty about their relationship from the previous talk (with Alan Watts). This becomes more apparent because this is where she disappears and Theodore is panicking with confusion and uncertainty. He eventually recognizes her evolution and the fact that she is not his anymore. He feels like he is being cheated on which makes him all the more confused and uncertain about their relationship. She tries to explain how she is his, but also not his.
The next scene he returns to white. Theodore is struggling to fully accept Samantha’s evolution, so while he is not happy about the situation, he is not sad either because he is able to recognize that she is an OS, not human, and returns to this sort of neutral acceptance when figuring out the status of their relationship going forward.
After this we are hit with the most heartbreaking part of the movie. When Samantha announces she is leaving. Theodore is wearing his white shirt still but the scene is majorly dark and gives a blue tone to his shirt. This is just pure sadness, especially the feels and heartbreak after her “if you ever get here, come find me, nothing would ever pull us apart.”
The next scene he is back in noticeable white. Neutral acceptance being torn between accepting her leaving and at the same time having his heart shattered. In this scene he is devastated about Samantha leaving, but we also see some acceptance with his email to Catherine. He then goes to see Amy who is still in red. She is fully accepting of her OS’ decision to leave because they were not romantically involved, which makes it easier for her. I like that the film ends with the two of them together, and Theodore sort of smiles while crying as if she has help him come, at least a little more, to terms with the situation.
When Theodore and Catherine are at lunch, he is wearing a blue/red shirt, showing his acceptance yet sadness and discomfort for the entire situation. I think it’s also interesting that Catherine is wearing white/blue because while she enters the scene neutral and accepting about what their marriage and relationship has become, she is okay with it. However, as soon as she finds out about Samantha being an OS, she is completely uncomfortable and they begin to fight and be sad.
When Theodore is struggling with the acceptance of his relationship with Samantha after the surrogate scene, he visits Amy. I thought it was awesome to see him laying on the couch (which I think was blue also) in his blue shirt while she is in red and we see her happily interact with her OS. After this Theodore is accepting again, makes up with her and fixes their relationship, and returns to wearing red the next scene.
On the picnic with Paul and Tatina (pictured above), he is wearing a red jacket and a blue shirt. They are having a great time and Theodore feels like their relationship is accepted, but then she makes her comment about death and he becomes sad and uncomfortable while he thinks about what she said.
Then at the end, as I mention above, the combination of Theodore’s white shirt and Amy’s red clothes. Theodore is heartbroken, but understands the situation. He’s neutral, struggling between letting his heartbreak get the best of him because of his deep love for Samantha or accepting the situation and all of the positive things that he gained out of their relationship. Seeing him and Amy lean on one another at the end makes me feel like he is able to accept everything and they both accept and appreciate how their OS’ helped them rediscover life and be happy again.