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Technicolor Yarns

Guy Maddin tests the palettes of Douglas Sirk and Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Nov 23, 2016

Last winter, contemporary cinema artist Guy Maddin led an extended intro and post-screening discussion on Douglas Sirk’s 1954 melodrama Magnificent Obsession. He found himself taking in Sirk’s use of Technicolor, and felt normal colour names weren’t good enough to describe the unique hues on screen. “I used to be a house painter, and remembered the great names of the 10,000 different colours you could get in a paint chip book… so I tried to name the colours. Rock Hudson’s nipple: a sort of smokey rose... I’d paint my house Rock Hudson’s nipple.”

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“Sirk was a painter and considered himself a painter first. He really knew how to work his palettes. The ways his palettes interact is the way melodramatic characters interact and balance each other.”

Maddin also drew comparisons to Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Sirk-inspired tones: “...going back to Fassbinder … you realize he was doing something like that.”

All That Heaven Allows, Douglas Sirk (1955) and Lola, Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1981)

Starting this Sunday with Written on the Wind, see three of Douglas Sirk's incredible Technicolor masterpieces in our Fassbinder sidebar programme, All That Heaven Allows: Fassbinder's Favourites, on now until January 5.