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Depiction of Conflict Zones in Movies-The Yellow Filter in Extraction

The yellow filter is often used to show conflict zones, mostly in developing countries. The yellow filter has been spotted in various movies, and recently in a Chris Hemsworth film Extraction, which takes place in Bangladesh. The trailer depicts the high-octane methods used to film the movie. But the trailer alone had an unexpected consequence: Viewers quickly noticed that the movie's footage looked normal while the final cut of the film has a distinct, and off-putting, yellowish tint.

The yellow filter is problematic because it adds to the stereotypes about conflict zones and developing nations. The primary issue stems from the way a story is told and portrayed. When a cinematographer decides to use a yellow filter in scenes in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, they intend to create a space that would make their intended viewers associate it with poverty, pre-modernity, lawlessness. Most often than not, Mexico is shown with a yellow filter in many movies, but one Google search is enough to tell us that it is indeed a beautiful place, and it is much more than its crime rate and poverty statistics.

Viewers worldwide are catching onto the yellow filter; many articles and social media statements show a dislike towards the "third world aesthetic." It is about time directors stop using the yellow filter to depict conflicts, war, and poverty.

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Fascinating observation, Mehvish! Like you and others in the comments have pointed out, this is deeply problematic as it reduces the developing world to a flawed portrayal of poverty and lawlessness. I'd like to add to this by also outlining how this yellow filter is used for ALL countries in Africa and the Global South which sends out a message that all developing countries are homogenous in their environments and aesthetic. This, as well, is, in my opinion, deeply problematic.


Thank you for highlighting this! Perhaps, one can argue that this understanding of the third-world is informed by the continuation of colonial scholarship. Regardless, it feels good to shift our focus from stories of despair for a while.


This a very interesting observation which holds true for many other depictions by hollywood as well. For example, a blue-ish grey tint was (and still is) often used for Russia or any other Eastern-European (socialist inclined) country. This portrayed these localities as existing on a plane of grim reality. It was only when I saw videos from youtube travel bloggers (and luckily, being able to visit Moscow myself) that I realized how miscontrued our perceptions of these places were. It is a cinematic effect agreed but upon frequent regurgitation in a cultural medium such as film; it becomes warped into part of reality.


Interesting observation... I started wondering how we treat our own movies and it's sad to say that some of our own movies have that horrible yellow tinge. These are screengrabs from the movie "Waar" - I understand that the yellow filter is associated with conflict as is the case in the movie, but I feel like the yellow filter can't be seen without its historical usage for depicting backwards and poverty-stricken communities anymore. This association is too heavily ingrained in the perspective of the viewer to be overlooked. I feel like this was an oversight on the part of our filmmakers, who perhaps inadvertently grouped our own community into the "other".


Omg yes I remember when I saw this movie I thought...why is it horribly yellow? I did study in a film course that cinematographers use a specific color palette to evoke emotion or differentiate between locations like e.g. in Game of Throne I remember the north always used cooler color tones while the south used warmer colors but for filmmakers to habitually use the same yellow filter to depict poverty and post modernism is just wrong because they're painting a fake picture. It helps perpetuate the idea that developing nations are less clean and pristine than their first-world counterparts and this builds stems onto the already deep rooted stereotypes that exist about the supposed third-world countries. I've seen many memes…

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