A Color Story: Us

Title: Us
Year: 2019
Director: Jordan Peele
Writer(s): Jordan Peele
Producer(s): Jordan Peele, Jason Blum, Ian Cooper and Sean McKittrick
Costume(s): Kym Barrett
Cinematography: Michael Gioulakis

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex.


You can’t tell me this movie doesn’t have color symbolism. EVERYTHING has symbolism in a Jordan Peele film and I think Us has some of the best uses of color.

I hope at this point everyone has seen Us but if you haven’t, I’ll say this much: doppelgangers, the end of the world in a way, great soundtrack and Lupita Nyong’o was amazing. Not to discredit the other actors because performing as two separate characters in general is double duty and they made it look easy but Lupita definitely showcased that 200% commitment.

Jordan Peele is really becoming quite a force in Hollywood, especially with horror and sci-fi whether it’s writing, directing or producing, we’re at a point where we see his “style” and whether you notice it or not, most directors have a “style”. I think of David Lynch, Spielberg, Nolan, Carpenter, Raimi and there’s tons others but these are just off the top of my head and Peele is in that category. We’re seeing glimpses of what makes him a standout and what stands out are the cinematography (Michael Gioulakis) and color.

The biggest color of them all: red.

Red represents a lot of things. It’s anger, passion, love, sacrifice, blood, it’s attention grabbing and in a sea of either blasts of color or black/white (see Schindler’s List), you will see red. As I’m writing this, Doja Cat’s “Need to Know” music video is playing and she’s wearing red. There’s a lot of red in the music video as in lighting, furniture, accents, representing the very passionate, horny message in the song. It is a bop, btw.

Back to Us! The red jumpsuits. The title card is in red. The use of red lighting for danger, the boardwalk games and setups are painted with red (blue and white in this case above).

Another interesting color to note is yellow. I learned in art school how yellow is used for caution, think of the signs we see, yellow tape, how some insects are black and yellow AKA caution. It’s another standout color like red and a lowkey moment is above, with Kitty (Moss) talking to Adelaide (Nyong’o) on the beach and there’s this yellow towel behind her. I mean she does get ambushed from behind in the house by the Tethered and ironically next to her, her husband is surrounded in blues.

Blue in a negative light is passive.

Young Adelaide is bathing in blue light when she’s younger in the mirror room. She isn’t passive at all, the opposite but blue is anxiety, sadness, fear, depression, all of these things she possibly experienced while underground while her tethered experienced everything she should have.

Overall, I could go on and on about color theory in Us and how important it is but I hope this post was just a starting point and perhaps when you watch the film again, you’ll start noticing color cues. 

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