Features and Columns · Movies

The Color Theory of ‘Memories of Murder’

What’s red, green, blue, and muted-grey all over?
Memories Of Murder Color Theory
By  · Published on December 2nd, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that looks at the color theory in Bong Joon-ho’s 2003 serial killer thriller, Memories of Murder.

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but Bong Joon-ho is kind of a good director.

In all seriousness, if you haven’t seen Memories of Murder yet (and you clicked on this link for some reason), I hope that you either drop everything and check out a bonafide masterpiece or watch the video essay below … and then check out a bonafide masterpiece.

Memories of Murder was Bong Joon-ho’s follow-up to his 2000 debut, Barking Dogs Never Bite, and is loosely based on the first confirmed serial killer in South Korea, whose notoriety and evasiveness drew comparisons to the Zodiac Killer. The 2003 film follows the police investigation, which continually fails to catch their man due to a spicy melange of incompetence, bull-headedness, and violence.

The video essay below underlines several ways in which Bong Joon-ho uses visual storytelling to underline some of the film’s core themes. There’s a focus on the film’s approach to color theory, which will be more informative if you’ve already seen the film. (As you watch the video, try to remember if you picked up on these visual cues — cause I sure didn’t!).

Be wary of some light spoilers ahead after the jump.

Watch “The Queue: Memories of Murder | Hidden in Plain Sight”

Who made this?

This video essay on the color theory of Memories of Murder is by Spikima Movies, a Korean-Canadian who’s been dropping gems on YouTube since 2019. You can subscribe to Spikima’s channel for more incredible essays here. And you can follow them on Letterboxd here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).