October 19, 2012
In my first book I asked John Williams, who has written musical scores for “Star Wars” and “E.T.,” if he had ever written music to correspond to color in a film. He said that when he composed the score for “Close Encounters” he developed a distinctive musical signature to announce the presence of something mysterious in outer space. The sound of each note was given a different color on the screen.
In The Rainbow Book, it tells about famed artist Wassily Kandinsky, who compared the sounds of musical instruments to colors. He perceived light, warm red and medium yellow as strong, vigorous, and triumphant-the sounds of trumpets.
Today we are seeing this synesthetic color interpretation in Jeffrey Wirsing’s costume work in the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire. I am devoted to the show. I am taken with every aspect of this show and it has been the subject of many water cooler conversations. Of course it was fascinating to find out that there was a color connection with the designer who is a “sympathetic synesthete”.
My favorite character on the show is the leading female character, Margaret Thompson, played by Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald. She started on the show as a needy widow who met Nucky Thompson, the leading bad guy in the series (not a nice person) and went on to marry him, primarily to provide a home for her two young children. Her character progresses into a person quite admirable for her charity work and belief in women’s health causes, in spite of being married to a mobster! The transitioning of her wardrobe was fabulously done—from plain to the high fashion of the day in the 20s. The colors and the designs are wonderful and a really well-researched part of the show.
Below is an excerpt from his interview in Psychology Today.
Jeffrey Wirsing talked about his work on the show “I have been working for the past almost four years on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, set in the 1920s, where I have found a great use of all my skills, in costume, in restoration, in my printed fabrics and my color sense for dyeing fabrics.”
Do you watch Boardwalk Empire? Who is your favorite character?
Fascinating post, but just want to point out that actress Kelly MacDonald is Scottish, not Irish.
You are right! Thanks for the heads up.