Blue is the Warmest Colour

I balked at watching the 3 hour film – the original comic looked far more manageable. It also turned out to be impressively put together. Julie Maroh studied comic art at university and self-published three comics before getting to Blue is the Warmest Colour, and it shows. Her artwork is most impressive when it plays with focus – lines becoming increasingly blurry further in the background, which creates amazing immersive crowd panels (at the demonstration, the bar, the house-party). And it accentuates a great effect when Emma's distinctive blue hair is gradually revealed and then gradually swallowed up by the crush of monochrome people.

There is also a good deal of attention payed to page construction. Individual pages frequently balance each other – the last panel echoing the first and compositionally underlining the change (in plot or character) that has occurred across the page. There are also some clever effects playing with panel borders and panel shapes, speech bubbles and captions.

Interest in the comics form extends to the title and theme. Blue is traditionally perceived as a cold colour (an association perhaps encouraged by the way we experience natural phenomena like rivers, lakes or the sea). At the beginning of the book, the narrator Clementine redefines it as warm – a personal association based on her own unique experience (of her infatuation with her blue-haired lover). This calls back to the theme of the book: that love isn't a universal, fixed (Platonic) ideal, but shaped by the individual. The closing lines of the book are a tad saccharine, but they are about something: "love may not be eternal but it can make us eternal". The book puts the people before the idea – for Clem and Emma blue is the warmest colour even if most of us tend to see it as cold. As Emma gazes into the sea at the end (a liminal setting if ever there was one, and perhaps indicating the threshold at which she becomes a true artist), we see her redefining it with her own memories and associations – suffusing it with warmth, as Clem had done.

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