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A symbol is a mark, sign or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship (English Dictionary). Symbols permit individuals to observe past what is known or seen by creating a connection in the space that separates other than very different generalities and proficiencies. Communications is attained through using of symbols. Symbols can be as words, sounds, gestures, ideas or visual images and are used to convey other ideas and beliefs. It may also be as the representation of a concept amidst elemental meanings of objects or qualities.
In film production, the symbol is accustomed to convey a particular notion or concept that is implicit in its context. This particular essay attempts to consider the usage of symbols or symbolism in the film ‘Four Colored Girls’, with vivid reference to the using of colors to form intellection and concepts. This will include the explanation of symbols and how their usage affects the total production of the film.
The movie delineates the interconnected lives of ten (10) women, exploring their lives and struggles as women of color. It is the apex movie to be produced by 34th Street Films, an ingrain of Tyler Perry Studios, and distributed by Lionsgate Films. The film’s lead cast consists of ten African-American women, seven of whom are based on the play’s seven characters, only known by color (e.g. ‘lady in red’, ‘lady in brown’, and ‘lady in yellow’). Like its source material, each character deals with a different personal dissidence, such as love, abandonment, rape, infidelity, and abortion.
In the movie, there’s a reasoned usage of symbolism, by the use of colors to represent diverse issues. It’s a film that carries the woman’s ideas. In this film, each woman is represented by a color: Jo Bradmore represents red, Tangie Adrose represents orange, Yasmine represents yellow, Juanita Sims represents green, Kelly Watkins represents blue, Nyla Adrose represents purple, Crystal Wallace represents brown, and Rose represents pink. Additionally, the characters of Alice Adrose, who represents white, and Gilda, who represents black, were made precisely for the film. This divergent representation of colors by symbolic figures is done to convey messages in more deliberate manner, but in a cryptic style.
The women in the film represented certain colors to symbolize different things. And they altogether form the rainbow colors. As the title of the chore poem implies, the rainbow is a paramount symbol in the play, one consciously applied to the ladies’ costumes, which are the colors of the rainbow, plus brown. The presence of brown in the rainbow of colors symbolizes black identity within the rainbow of existence. The rainbow itself signifies the multiplicity of experience and the many phase of identity. “The rainbow is a fabulous symbol for me,” Shange explained in a quote from an article by Mark Ribowsky that appeared in Sepia magazine, “If you see only one color, it’s not beautiful. If you see them all, it is. A colored girl, by my words, is a girl of many colors. But she can only see her overall beauty if she can see all the colors of herself. To do that, she has to look deep inside her. And when she looks inside herself, she will find . . . love and beauty.”
The usage of symbolic colors to represent ideas is an attempt to make the film’s message more vivid and elucidatory. Each color is made to convey a particular message. In this film, we see the representation of issues like racism, feminism, sexism, abortion, divorce etc. And these actualities influenced the production stages of the film. What we observed was that the costumes in the production stages translate colors of each character and the roles that they play in the production. We see that each of these ladies goes through personal trials or pains, relative to the color she represents. For colored girls is centered on nine women as they encounter their fair share of neglect, abuse, pain and harassment both physically and emotionally. They slowly but surely recovered from such abuse and discover joy in themselves. The movie begins with the characters as strangers but at the end, they become good friends. One major symbol represented is the rainbow colors. We see that, individually, each woman has to go through her own share of pain, but as they come together as one, to form the rainbow color, they are able to share ideas and thoughts, and they are eventually able to find happiness in the unity. The convergence of colors to make the rainbow signifies unity in essence, to show that the universe, in spite of racial or gender difference, must learn to converge in unity and oneness. It also tells America to shun violence and various activities that separate people. In essence, the use of colors typifies diverse differences in human societies, and the need for reconsidering oneness among ourselves.
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