Exploring the Use of Color by Director M. Night Shyamalan in 'Glass'

10 May 2023

M. Night Shyamalan, known for his distinctive filmmaking style and storytelling techniques, has often employed visual elements to enhance the narrative and create a unique cinematic experience (refer his use of red in The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable).

In his film 'Glass,' the third installment of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy, Shyamalan masterfully uses color to convey emotions, symbolism, and character development. This discussion aims to delve into the effective use of color in 'Glass' and its impact on the overall cinematic experience.

use of color in glass

Here's a quick discussion of the use of color in Glass

Color symbolism and thematic representation:

Shyamalan employs a deliberate and strategic use of color to symbolize different themes and motifs within 'Glass.' One such example is the use of primary colors to represent the three main hero characters: David Dunn (played by Bruce Willis) is associated with the color green, Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) with purple, and Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) (first seen in Split) with yellow.

These color associations reflect their individual traits, motivations, and psychological states, creating a visual language that enhances the storytelling.

Emotional resonance and atmosphere:

Color plays a crucial role in establishing the emotional resonance and atmosphere in 'Glass.' Shyamalan skillfully manipulates color palettes to evoke specific emotions and enhance the viewer's engagement with the film. For instance, scenes with David Dunn often feature cooler and more subdued tones of green, creating a sense of calmness, stability, and hope. 

In contrast, Mr. Glass' scenes are bathed in darker shades of purple, reflecting his enigmatic and manipulative nature. The use of warmer tones of yellow during Kevin's scenes captures his fragmented and unstable psyche.

Visual juxtaposition and contrast:

Shyamalan employs color as a tool to create visual juxtaposition and contrast, heightening the narrative tension and emphasizing character dynamics. By contrasting the primary colors associated with the main characters, Shyamalan highlights the clash between their ideologies and worldviews.

The clashes between green and purple, green and yellow, and purple and yellow not only add visual interest but also intensify the conflicts and power dynamics between the characters.

Shifts in color palette as narrative devices:

In 'Glass,' Shyamalan utilizes shifts in color palette to signify crucial narrative developments and shifts in character arcs. As the film progresses, the color palettes associated with each character undergo changes, reflecting their growth, transformations, or unraveling. These shifts in color can provide subtle clues to the viewer about the characters' evolving psychological states and their respective journeys within the story.

meaning of purple in glass film

Take for example the scene where Dr. Ellie Staple brings the three characters together to try to convince them they are not super heroes. 

Note that the main colour around the characters is a blend of purple/pink. Pink is a color often used for a calming effect, which is a great thing for psychotic inmates at the asylum. 


While the good doctor is seemingly in control of the three (they are her prisoners in effect), the purple hue is a foreshadowing that Mr Glass is actually in control - the final reveal of his plan to educate the world on the truth of The Horde and David Dunn as being extra-human shows he outlasted, outwitted and outplayed Staple and he was actually in control the entire time. 


Symbolic motifs and hidden meanings:

Beyond the explicit use of color to represent characters, Shyamalan incorporates symbolic motifs and hidden meanings through color choices in 'Glass.' These motifs can be seen in recurring objects, set designs, or costume choices that align with specific color schemes, contributing to a deeper understanding of the characters and their relationships. 

Exploring these hidden meanings adds a layer of intrigue and invites viewers to analyze the film on a more profound level.

From father to son

In the climactic moments of 'Glass,' director M. Night Shyamalan further extends his thematic use of color by dressing Casey Cooke, Joseph Dunn, and Mrs. Price in colors that align with their respective connections to Kevin, Elijah, and David. 

Casey Cooke, Joseph Dunn, and Mrs. Price

This deliberate choice not only strengthens the visual impact of the scene but also underscores the characters' emotional journeys and symbolic connections.

Casey, who has developed a profound understanding and empathy towards Kevin, wears yellow, mirroring Kevin's association with the color yellow throughout the film. 

Joseph, David's son, dons a green shirt and pants, symbolizing his unwavering support and loyalty to his father's mission. 

Mrs. Price, Elijah's mother, is adorned in shades of purple, reflecting her strong familial ties and her unwavering belief in her son's abilities. 

These color choices subtly highlight the characters' connections to their respective counterparts, emphasizing the intertwined destinies and thematic unity that exist between them. It serves as a powerful visual reminder of their interwoven fates and the impact they have on each other's lives.

M. Night Shyamalan's use of color in 'Glass' demonstrates his keen eye for visual storytelling. Through color symbolism, emotional resonance, visual juxtaposition, and shifts in color palettes, Shyamalan enhances the narrative, deepens character development, and enriches the overall cinematic experience. The deliberate and strategic use of color in 'Glass' showcases Shyamalan's prowess as a director and his ability to convey meaning beyond the surface level, making the film a visual feast for audiences.


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My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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