Colour Theory in Films

Written by: Chloe Tan(22-I6), Eris Kek (22-I6), Emma Lee (21-O1) , Jolina Prisha Nair (21-E5), 

Designed by: Alexia Teo (22-U1)

From Wes Anderson’s eccentric monochromatic films to Denis Villeneuve’s spellbinding sci-fi films, colour has played a pivotal role in film. Technicolour first took the world by storm in the 1930s with the popularity of “The Wizard of Oz”. Back then, Technicolour gained traction for its bright, bold, saturated colours. Since then, however, the use of colour in film has shifted significantly. Gone are the days of colour to simply enhance visual effects. Film colour theory now introduces a wider range of uses for colour. Beyond colour grading in post-production, colour has taken on a character of its own in films. Colour is taken into account even in pre-production preparations when storyboards are drawn up. In most scenarios, colour plays a vital role in setting the scene by creating an ambience that evokes the desired emotion. Other times, colour can be used as an oxymoron, as seen in Wes Anderson’s films where the emotions of a scene can be at odds with its colour palette. Regardless of its purpose, colour has become a key cornerstone in shaping the foundations of film. 

Starting off with the fundamentals, we have many types of colour palettes, ranging from monochromatic to triadic. Listed below are the few main colour palettes that are commonly observed in many beloved films we hold dear today. 


The monochromatic colour palette is as its name suggests, created using different tones of that one colour. In films, using a monochromatic colour palette evokes a sense of simplicity and harmony. 


Made up of opposite colours on the colour wheel, the complementary colour palette represents conflict. Such combinations include purple and yellow, blue and orange or red and green. Film-makers often use the stark contrast between the colours to illustrate a duelling opposition between characters. However, complementary colours can also be used to exemplify warmth and comfort. 


Comprising a group of three colours next to each other on the colour wheel, analogous colour palettes usually consist of a primary colour, a supporting colour and a  third colour which would either be a mix between the two or an accent colour. With analogous colours being commonly found in nature, using an analogous colour palette in a film replicates the natural world.


Contrasting the analogous colour palette is the triadic colour palette, which uses three equally spaced out colours on the colour wheel. With one colour being the dominant one, and the remaining two serving as complementary colours.  The colours stand out from one another and make for a vibrant, lively colour palette. Applying this in films, triadic colour palettes can be used to magnify the polarities of two characters. 

Symbolism of Colours

Apart from the colour palettes as mentioned above, the symbolism of colours play a vital role in solidifying the overall atmosphere and mood of a film. Thus, there are many such ways in which the use of the psychology of colour has been incorporated into films so as to influence the audience’s emotions, and subsequently offer maximum immersion into said films. 

Red, for example, could symbolise passion and love in romantic films, or, if in thrillers,  portray the feeling of danger and power. Depending on the context of the film and its genre, colour can take on many roles in giving different and distinct meanings. 

Blue, on the other hand, symbolises feelings of coldness and isolation. In more melancholic scenes, it gives off the effect of passivity and calmness. 

Examples of Films

Some examples of highly acclaimed films that have effectively used the psychology and theory of colour palettes, symbolism, and other similar methods include works such as Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo, Disney’s Lion King and many of Wes Anderson’s films. 


In Ponyo, its universe is filled with a range of soft, childlike colours. From Ponyo’s distinctive bright pink hair and matching pink dress to the blues and greens of the seaside, the film brims with colour and life. Such colour palettes are appropriate in appealing to the eyes of young viewers, or simply anyone who wishes to watch a feel-good movie. 


In the film The Lion King (released in 1994), Mufasa is often shadowed by a backdrop of the blue sky of Pride Rock. The complementary colours blue and orange portray Mufasa as a loyal, wise and warm leader. On the other hand, Scar, who is depicted as a villain in the film, is illustrated using darker colours, predominantly, his black mane. 


Lastly, in Wes Anderson’s films, the assortment of colours has been far from limited. From glaring reds to soft hues of yellows, each colour had many parts to play in creating complex worlds of rich characters and almost-whimsical stories. The clever use of distinctive colour palettes has significantly helped to bring Wes Anderson’s imagination to life, bringing his works to fame. 

With how much weight the use of colours brings to the meaning of filmmaking, it is almost impossible to imagine how the world of films used to exist in shades of black and white. From colour palettes to the range of different symbolisms behind each hue, it is without a doubt that the world of colour-building in the art of film-making will long persist as one that is ever-evolving. 


Taylor Swift’s – Sickbeat’s top picks!

Angelica Chiw (22-I6), Ashley Chean (22-O1), Benedict Keng (22-U3), Brandon Ng (22-E4), Cheng Zhi Shan (22-U1), Chloe Tan (22-I6), Darius Chen (22-E4), Eris Kek (22-I6), Rebecca Yap (22-O1), Sophia Chiang (22-O1)

Designed by: Angelica Chiw (22-I6), Cheng Zhi Shan (22-U1), Benedict Keng (22-U3), Brandon Ng (22-E4), Darius Chen (22-E4), Eris Kek (22-I6), Rebecca Yap (22-O1), Sophia Chiang (22-O1)

Taylor Swift is one of the biggest names of the century. Known for her effervescent style and soulful, enigmatic lyrics, she is admired globally. One of the few artists able to successfully convert from country to pop, her new music is guaranteed to reach the top of every Billboard 200 list. Every Eunoian knows the words of her most popular songs to heart, like ‘22’ or ‘Wildest Dreams’, but she has so many more underrated songs beyond the title tracks. Sick beats brings to you the journey of our favourite, more underrated tracks from her country days to her newer pop sound. As we explore her tracks together, we hope that you would enjoy them as much as we do. 

On the first listen, ‘Cruel Summer’ may sound like another teenage pop song. With its upbeat, fast-paced melody and singable lyrics, it presents itself as another cheery summer song, one amongst many in Swift’s colourful discography. However, upon closer inspection, fans may realise that the song cleverly speaks of the many vulnerabilities and fragilities that one exposes oneself to when maintaining, or beginning, a new romantic relationship. From the illustrative use of imagery to hidden metaphors, Swift thus presents a song open to differing interpretations all based on one’s mood. 

The fifth track from Taylor Swift’s Speak Now album, ‘Dear John’, takes you back to an era of countryside music, whispers of nostalgia and memories of bittersweet love. ‘Dear John’ speaks of Taylor Swift’s frustration over a short-lived relationship that ended in fragments and her grapple with accepting this loss. What stands out in this song is the seamless weave of guitar strums that complement her lyrics, while accentuating the bittersweet, slightly heart-rending feelings of Taylor Swift’s heartbreak. A 6 minute-long song may seem daunting. However, ‘Dear John’ can be interpreted as taking the form of a diary entry, reflecting an almost painfully truthful account of her relationship with John. This captivating masterpiece is able to convey these emotions in its purest form and will definitely tug at your heartstrings. 

Released in 2014, ‘Out Of The Woods’ is part of one of Swift’s best-selling albums to date, 1989. The song, rumoured to be based on her relationship with Harry Styles, talks about the vulnerability of some relationships and how they are difficult to break away from. When she eventually does leave the relationship, she discovers that it actually is not that hard to. If you are in need of a mood booster, the strong bases of this song would definitely be more than sufficient to pick you up!

‘Clean’ is the closing track of 1989, released in 2014 and arguably Swift’s first attempt at a full-on pop album. ‘Clean’ acts as a great palette cleanser, rounding out the themes of love and toxic relationships mentioned in the album by showcasing Swift finally being ‘clean’ and able to move on in a healthy way from the troubles mentioned in 1989. Musically, ‘Clean’ has a pretty understated melody albeit still coming across as soothing and catchy. The instrumental, however, was produced with atypical instruments such as a mbira, which is a thumb piano, and boomwhackers, for the percussion. Overall, ‘Clean’ is a great tune that rounds out a pretty great album.

This upbeat and peppy song details the exciting romance progressing between two lovers. The song captures a picturesque series of snapshots that tug you along the timeline of their love from their first meeting, to courtship and then finally to marriage, all while keeping a cheeky undertone. The somewhat innocent and idealistic nature of their love makes this song impossible to sing without a smile on your face. With paper rings as a symbol, she shows how her love for her boyfriend (at the time) goes beyond her own wants and proves her earnestness to be with him. Hopefully, the overwhelmingly cute song would convince you to find someone special to match paper rings with too!

The seventh track from Swift’s Lover album, ‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’ is a song describing a high school romance between Swift and her lover. She sings of a relationship that is her entire world, something that she is willing to fight for no matter the obstacles in her way. However, once we peel back the layers of the song, the typical high school symbols – such as cheer chants – are merely a mask for the true intention of the song. In truth, ‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’ is a song of protest, in response to the state of the American political climate after 2016, when Donald Trump was elected into office. She sings of her view of American politics, touching on discrimination and other challenges that Americans face with a broken democracy, openly supporting the Democratic party using references to the colour blue. She also sings of why she is choosing to become more politically vocal, wanting to help encourage change. Despite her cynical view on the current political climate for most of the song, she is ultimately optimistic and believes that this is a fight that they will win someday. Ultimately, this is a song about strength through dark times, and I hope it gives you the encouragement to keep on going even when it feels like the world is ending. 

‘Call It What You Want’ is one of Taylor’s well-known side tracks on reputation, gaining over 200 million Spotify streams. This song captures her raspy vocals accompanied by a lustre melody. It speaks of a protective romance and was released when Taylor suffered because of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. However, she sings of a nonchalant attitude as she has a chivalrous man that cares for her and that is all that matters. She encapsulates the feelings of a private consolation after a public scandal and hence the strong implication that she does not care what other people think. 

‘august’ is from the album folklore, her eighth studio album. The lines between truth and reality blur and truth and fiction become almost indiscernible as Swift paints a picturesque image of a broken memory; nostalgia touched with a tinge of hurt. August is reminiscent and cloying, as Swift laments about what could have happened and how she wished for it to be different. She sings with regret and bitterness, but the sweet, light, and faded-away tone of this song is sure to sweep you away into bittersweet memories.

‘Getaway Car’ is a song off Swift’s sixth album, reputation. With its distinct electropop sounds, this song is rumoured to be about Swift leaving Calvin Harris to be together with Tom Hiddleston, with Swift possibly accepting blame for “switching to the other side”. With its catchy chorus, this song (and album), demonstrates a more mature side of Swift, and the darker lyrics and melody certainly amplify this. If you are a big fan of reputation, I dare say that ‘Getaway Car’ is one of the better tracks off the album, and everyone should give this track a listen! 

‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ is one of Swift’s milestone hits, being the very first to reach no. 1 on The Hot 100. The catchy upbeat tune accompanies the storytelling of how a past lover once wanted to rekindle their failed relationship, with her frustrations with the back-and-forth relationship and his empty promises being expressed throughout the song. The song also contains a unique spoken-word bridge where she appears to be ranting about this past lover. The title is repeatedly used in the chorus as a line you surely can’t stop yourself from singing along to, but also further cements her stance on their relationship. Regardless of your love experience, this addictive breakup anthem will surely get you singing along!

Looking back on Taylor Swift’s discography is interesting for a couple of reasons. For one, it is rare for someone so firmly rooted in one genre (Country) to be able to transition pretty seamlessly into another genre (Pop) and back again while still maintaining a strong cult following. It is equally rare for an artist to switch up styles while maintaining a pretty consistent level of quality across releases. While of course I – like many others – have my preference on which albums are better, it is pretty evident that a Taylor Swift release will be of a certain calibre, with at the bare minimum, a couple catchy singles and one or two great deep cuts- regardless of genre. Currently, Taylor Swift is in the process of re-recording her back catalogue amidst some complicated legal proceedings. With the re-release of 1989 slated to be coming out soon, now is a great time to jump into Swift’s music, both old and new.

Netflix Thrillers: To Watch or not to Watch?

Written by: Zhi Shan (22-U1), Jolina Nair (21-E5)

Designed by: Angelica Chiw (22-I6)

Have you ever gotten tired of scrolling through Netflix for hours on end only to discover 20 minutes into a movie that it just isn’t worth the watch? Well fret not as here are 6 film recommendations that are guaranteed to fix your thriller needs. 

Get Out (2017)  

Overall ratings: 9/10 

Get Out is by far one of the best thrillers I have watched. It is a thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat and leave you with a haunting yet surreal feeling at the end of it all. Directed by Jordan Peele, this masterpiece was able to achieve what most thrillers fail to, which is the sense of realness embedded in the film. It was not just another psychotic killer out there looking for a new target or an obsessed ex-lover seeking revenge, but rather, is a film reflecting the real horrors Black people face despite living in a so-called “post-racial liberalism” era. Get Out is able to present themes of social horror through the use of satire and a myriad of symbols, hooking viewers to the film while brewing suspense and anticipation for what happens next. The film has a relatively slow start but as you continue watching, the minor details you would have neglected initially connect you to a bigger, more shocking truth at the end. Whatever scene you thought was irrelevant was made crucial at the end of the film. The acting served as the cherry on the cake which helped to emphasise, again, the realness of such horror and bring you closer to the fears of the protagonist. What I especially loved about this film was the complementing sound effects that brought out both the terror of the characters and the extra “jump-scare” factor. Although the film begins with a rather slow and surreal feeling, the juxtaposition of the initial “safety-net” facade and the unfolding truths of the thriller really allowed me to experience the fear first-hand. What I would really recommend to viewers is to watch the film a second time. The best part of this thriller is how the perspectives you take in watching the film differ drastically from the first time you watch it to the second time you watch it. Just watch it, and you’ll understand what I mean. 

Extra reading: Film analysis on Get Out

Greta (2018)

Overall ratings: 7/10

If you are looking for a one-time watch or just a good thriller to satisfy your cravings, Greta is definitely the one for you. This was the very first thriller I have watched that has kept me hooked on thrillers ever since. Directed by Neil Jordan, this film may appear to be about a normal and wholesome relationship shared by a young woman and an elderly stranger. However, the film takes a sharp 180-degree turn when viewers are suddenly forced to abandon that seemingly innocent image and embrace a shocking plot revelation. Like many thrillers out there, Greta unravels into a story of prey and predator which keeps one on their toes throughout the film. What sets Greta apart from many thrillers though is the clever nature in which the antagonist executes her plans. This is rare in many thrillers where they are mainly focused on the horror aspect and not so much on the development of the plot. This makes Greta very easy to watch without many “huh” moments that ruin and interrupt the momentum of the film. The ending of the thriller was the most impactful moment for me as viewers are left on a cliffhanger which left me wanting for more. After the tough ordeals the protagonist had to put up with, the final scene, instead of leaving closure in the viewers, left a disturbing and definitely haunting feeling. Greta is one of those thrillers that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride and cause many other thrillers to pale in comparison. Watch it and you won’t regret it.

Watch Greta | Netflix

Shutter Island (2010)

Overall ratings: 6.5/10

Shutter Island is a slow burn for the ages. It starts off with a relatively dull black and white scenario which never reveals its true direction till the very end. I’ll admit that it took a little more convincing to keep me hooked but the ending is very much worthwhile. The story follows detective Teddy Daniels who arrives at Shutter Island on a mission to find a missing psychiatric patient. However, when the mission is abruptly cut short after many suspicious activities have arisen, viewers are left wondering where the plot is headed. As more is uncovered, more questions are raised. The shocking truth bomb is only dropped towards the end and takes the viewers through a whirlwind of emotions along with the lead character. Feelings of confusion and denial leave us at crossroads between fiction and reality. Even after a seemingly revealing flashback, the plot twists continue, one after another, almost resembling a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the end, we are left with only one question: Which would be worse –  to live as a monster or to die as a good man? Shutter Island leans far more into the mystery aspect of thrillers. With minimal jumpscares and gory scenes, I’d recommend it for the faint of heart or anyone who is just starting to dip their toes into the thriller scene. 

The Call (2020)

Overall ratings: 10/10

Rated 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, The Call definitely lives up to its name. Park Shin-hye stars as the main character, Seo-yeon who has recently moved back into her childhood home. As she begins receiving strange phone calls from a young woman named Young-seok, Seo-yeon grows suspicious of her new home. She puts two and two together and discovers that the phone connects the women living in the same home 20 years apart. Realising that all actions in the past affect the future, Young-seok helps Seo-yeon reconnect with her deceased father, while Seo-yeon helps Young-seok escape from her abusive stepmother. However, Young-seok grows more demanding day by day and Seo-yeon soon realises that the woman she saved is not as innocent as she believed. The stunning performances by Park Shin-hye and Jeon Jong-seo, the former of agony and the latter of hysteria, make this impossible scenario seem all the more believable. Director Lee Chung-hyun artfully crafts the parallels between the past and present, leaving immaculate suspense yet little room for confusion. This combination of top-tier direction, screenplay and performances creates a gripping thriller that leaves us at the edge of our seats from start to finish. The Call is a must-watch for anyone who can stomach the excruciating suspense. 

Hush (2016)

Overall ratings: 7.5/10

For my cliche thriller lovers out there, I have just the thriller for you. The Hush is what some might call the OG ‘A Quiet Place’. Set in the scene of the isolated woods, The Hush follows Maddie, a deaf-mute writer, who retreats to the woods for a life of solitude and writing only to be disturbed by a masked killer at her window. Despite the obvious direction of the narrative, there is nothing ordinary about how Maddie navigates the prospect of a serial killer on the loose. With her lack of hearing and inability to speak, Maddie seems to have all the odds stacked against her. However, her quick thinking and agility make up for her disabilities. Maddie is no gullible victim. With every new plot twist, I found myself rooting for her more and more. Throughout the film, the audio also fades in and out, giving us a glimpse into Maddie’s world. We see how her lack of hearing can severely hinder her ability to notice massive actions that bring her closer and closer to the face of death. Certain objects and dialogues are also strategically placed to create a sense of foreshadowing and tie the film together nicely. All these little details along with Kate Siegel’s exceptional performance, make this film worth seeing. 

Has your curiosity for these thrillers been piqued? We sure hope it has and that you would give these Netflix thrillers a shot! But remember, curiosity kills the cat! 🙂

Mathematical Models in the Pandemic

Written by: He Jizhao (21-U5)

Designed by: Cheng Zhi Shan (22-U1)

In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, mathematical modelling can be used as a tool in many areas to deal with the pandemic. In this article, I will talk about the use of statistics and probability involved in models with regards to  pandemic prediction and prevention. 

The presence of statistics is now evident in our daily life, which has been totally changed by the relentless pandemic. The number  of confirmed cases and deaths in the daily news has influenced people’s moods and social norms. Figure 1 is one of many examples causing much anxiety and fear worldwide  by presenting  statistics such as the total number of confirmed cases and the number of global deaths.

Figure 1: COVID-19 Dashboard by the Centre for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University

Different countries have implemented various measures to collect data of confirmed cases, such as  places y visited, so as to reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Technology has been  widely used in gathering and recording data during the pandemic period. For instance, Israel’s security agency Shin Bet is using citizens’ cell phone location data to monitor the movements of those infected. The Singaporean government has also made it compulsory for citizens to use a trace-together app or trace-together token for contact tracing during the pandemic to record places that a person has been to. If, unfortunately, one is diagnosed with the virus, the Ministry of Health (MOH) can immediately alert those in  close contactto do a swab test and take relevant measures to prevent the spread of the virus in the community.

To combat COVID-19 effectively, many scientists have been studying the data of confirmed cases as early as the beginning of the pandemic. Through thorough analysis of data collected in terms of age group, population density and human-controlled factors like social distancing, many conclusions, like older adults having increased risks of contracting more lethal symptoms  from COVID-19, have arrived opportunely to guide policy-making. Statistical modelling also plays a significant role in determining the finer details of  policies such as  the distance between people stipulated in social distancing and the maximum number per group during an outing. Thanks to statistical modelling, these measures are effective in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

However, it is undeniable that statistical modelling is not without its limitations. To make sense of our complex real world, several assumptions have to be made before setting up a model. Inevitably, this will lead to inaccurate predictions. Moreover, reasons like poor data collection, high sensitivity of estimates, and lack of incorporation of epidemiological features also affect the accuracy of the results.

Despite these limitations, through data analysis, scientists can still  make predictions about the trend of  virus  development in the near future. In Figure 2, using China as an example, we can see that the gradient of the line representing confirmed and suspected cases is decreasing to zero, which means that the current situation in China is getting more and more stable. The gradient of the line, representing the currently active cases, tends to decrease, which also means that the situation is getting stable since there are fewer active cases confirmed.

Figure 2: Model shows the trend of novel coronavirus cases in China. Data from Feb 09,10 and 11 were removed from the model because the cases were underreported and then included all at once on Feb 12. 

OK but…how does it work?

To analyse the spread of the virus, the SIR(Susceptible, Infectious, Recovered) model has been  introduced. Based on the SIR model, scientists have introduced an important index to estimate the number of second-generation affected cases caused by a first-generation confirmed case. This index is called the Basic Reproduction Number (R). If the value of R is greater than one, it shows that the probability of extinction is low and the virus will spread globally. However, if R is smaller than one, the probability of extinction is high and the pandemic will gradually die down and disappear over time. For a modelling process using the SIR model, the calculation of the index R will be based on the formula R=1+r/b, where r is the rate of the increase of cases and b is the rate of the virus becoming infectious when in human bodies. 

According to Figure 3 below, taking Austria and Brazil as two examples to illustrate the use of index R in the analysis of the COVID-19 situation, we can see that the reproductive number line (the pink line) is under the green line of R=1 for Austria after 30th March while the reproductive line for brazil is above R=1. This means that the situation in Austria is getting stable while the pandemic still seems to be severe in Brazil. We can also see that the gradient of the reproductive line suddenly increases when it is close to R=1 at the end of March in Brazil, this provides  information that suggests countries should  be more alert in dealing with COVID-19 as the situation may get worse unexpectedly. 

Figure 3: Curves of daily confirmed cases and instantaneous reproductive number of some countries with the most cumulative cases

With the help of R, scientists can also estimate the effectiveness of vaccination by calculating the new value of R after people are vaccinated. This is decided by comparing the vaccination coverage rate to the marginal value of 1-1/R, when the value of the vaccination coverage rate is greater than this marginal value, the Efficient Reproductivitive Index will be less than one. This indicates  that the probability of extinction is high and hence, we  will be  more likely  to resolve  the spread of the Covid-19 . 

In conclusion, the application of mathematical modelling in pandemic prediction and prevention has made the strategies for dealing with the virus more time-efficient and effective. As scientists know more about the coronavirus, the model built will become more accurate in predicting future trends to better inform policy-makers of relevant measures required to curb the spread of  transmission. It is also critical to note that the parameters used in the model have to be changed as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Only by keeping pace with the dynamic situation can mathematical models remain relevant and accurate allowing us to  take effective measures to emerge victorious  in the long war against COVID-19!


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