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color-grading Green Knight and Color Grading

I want to have a conversation about color grading. A few weeks ago I went to go see THE GREEN KNIGHT—a new movie based off of a poem about one of King Arthur’s knights of the Round Table. I myself am an Arthurian Legend enthusiast with my own Merlin movie currently in post-production, so I was excited to see this. 30 minutes in, I found myself bored and slightly pissed. This movie was attempting to create a cerebral, atmospheric experience. Not only was there minimal dialogue, but there was minimal characterization and minimal explanation of the events within the story. There were parts within this movie that make absolutely no sense from any logical viewpoint, magic aside. I think that the director was aiming for an introspective, slightly surreal experience. However, it fell flat for me. The fact that I was already in love with the source material did not help me at all. I was just as confused, if not more, than if I had no prior knowledge.
THE GREEN KNIGHT’S big claim to fame is its visual style. It reminded me a lot of the Michael Fassbender version of MACBETH, released by the same company—A24. Both movies have haunting, beautiful colors. Every frame looks like a painting. Both movies have similar shots of gray medieval castles against dark backgrounds, with a single fire flickering bright orange light. Shots like those are beautiful. They really are. But after a while, they lost their luster.
I know that we live in the age of shooting in RAW and color grading later. I get it. The more control, the better. My own movie is being handled this way. My cinematographer/editor is working some serious magic. I owe him much. He is taking a beautifully shot movie, and is making it better.
But for me, this magic trick is getting old. I am not impressed with a roll of gray shots that have been dunked in paint and photoshopped to death. If done too much, it loses something.
In THE GREEN KNIGHT, there are shots of the main character on horseback in the forest. The shots are color grade to make his yellow cape stick out out in the dark environment, and sadly, that yellow cape has more personality than he does.
The movie lacks a sense of realism and authenticity, even as a fantasy film. THE LORD OF THE RINGS had much more subtle grading, and every time I watch this movies, I feel like I’m right there in Middle-Earth. The color grading in THE GREEN KNIGHT did not draw me into the movie; it took me out.
I know we gain a lot from color grading, but my question is this: What do we lose?
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