In the video essay “The Coen Brothers: Green“, Baltimore filmmaker Jacob T. Swinney, known for his “First and Final Frames” series and other work, examined how the color green has been strategically used in so many Coen Brothers’ films. Swinney demonstrated this effect by desaturating all colors other than green.
You may not have noticed, but the Coen Brothers use the color green a lot. This pattern most likely goes unnoticed because, unlike an in-your-face color, such as red, green is much more subdued and doesn’t alarm our eyes. Green is natural and a part of everyday life, but the Coens make use of the color in places other than nature. In fact, they seem to utilize the color during key moments of their films. Take a look at the motel doors during the final showdown of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN or the diner bathroom in INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS. Not only are major moments highlighted with green hues, but the Coen’s often use the color for significant objects: the tracking device in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, the CD case in BURN AFTER READING, the portable radio in A SERIOUS MAN, and the nail polish in THE BIG LEBOWSKI, to name a few. With the exception of THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE (all black and white), O’ BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (greens were digitally altered to appear yellowish), and TRUE GRIT (stark, dry color scheme), the Coen’s have made significant use of the color green in all of their features. In this video, I desaturated all non-green hues in order to better showcase how the color green is being used.