Indigo Films of Blue

Indigo is an interesting colour and as we’ve mentioned before, particularly relevant for November as it represents the hue of the dark sky, a perfect foil as a backdrop against which the blazing colours of fireworks can be hung. We’ve had two huge fireworks celebrations in November this year because as well as the usual Bonfire Night we’ve also had Diwali.

This past month I have been watching quite a few films, lots of anime and some horror especially. So my choices for November will be quite eclectic! The first film I am going to talk about is an anime film called Wolf Children.

Wolf Children 2012

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, Wolf Children [DVD] is a bizarre but intriguing film. The animation is very good and well interspersed with digital effects. In particular the street scenes of Tokyo at night against a deep indigo sky are beautifully composed with the anime characters moving amongst photographic backdrops. The story concerns Hana (a university student) who meets a mysterious man at a lecture.They talk, get to know each other and fall in love. What Hana does not know until later on is that this mysterious man is actually a werewolf! They get married and have two children together, a girl called Yuki and a boy called Ame. When the children are still babies, their father dies, thus leaving Hana to raise her two ‘wolf children’ alone. Moments of comedy occur, such as when Yuki is ill and Hana falters over deciding whether to take them to a vet or a hospital. Living in a cramped urban flat is also a cause for concern due to prying neighbours, so Hana decides to move to the country to give herself and the children more freedom. This film essentially is about growing up and making choices and the nature versus nurture debate, albeit through the guise of hybrid human creatures! Do they decide to deny their wolf side and become more human or do they decide to become more wolf and less human? You’ll have to watch to find out!

Babadook

 Although Halloween was last month I am going to write about this horror film which caused a small stir when it was released last year. We did have a couple of days of really thick fog here and though I have a copy of it I thought watching The Fog – Special Edition [DVD] on those days would be taking it too far! Indigo is a dark colour so I thought it would make sense to explore a dark film, which is especially scary watching it amongst the cold dark night! Directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook [DVD] concerns the story of a little boy Samuel and his mother, Amelia who are haunted by a strange creature called a Babadook. Samuel’s father Oskar died in a car crash just before he was born so he never gets to know him. Samuel starts to exhibit behavioural problems and is expelled from school. This causes his mother to be stressed and sleep-deprived as she tries to cope with raising Samuel in their dark, shadowy expressionistically-staged house reminiscent of the film Nosferatu. Samuel finds a book on his shelf called ‘Mister Babadook’ that his mother reads to him as a bedtime story. It is a very disturbing illustrated black and white pop-up book narrating the story of the strange creature called the Babadook. Once the book is read, it suggests that the monster will be unleashed and haunt the person. Samuel believes that the Babadook is real and Amelia does not at first but she starts to get mysterious phone calls and the book appears once she has destroyed it so she knows that something is not right. The whole scenario escalates once Amelia gets tranquillisers for her son so he and she can sleep at night. The film concerns itself with a lot of issues, loneliness, the difficulties of raising a child alone who has demanding needs. Amelia never really fits in with female friends of the same age, she is a stressed out widow and these women pride themselves in their appearance and the husbands’ status. Amelia only has one close female friend who distances herself from her once she feels Samuel’s behaviour is too erratic and harmful to her daughter. I think the film does have a feminist ethos in that Amelia needs to be assertive and brave to protect her son and herself to gain control of the situation. The ending in particular is very bizarre and not what I was expecting at all!

These are my choices for our theme of Indigo in November, if you like these films too or have other choices you wish to nominate then let us know at the usual places.

November Indigo Fun for Kids!

Indigo-Guizhou by Gitane
Indigo-Guizhou by Gitane

For our theme of indigo for November I have chosen two items that are indigo and that I like very much.

Indigo Irises

Indigo is one of my favourite colours and I could talk about so many indigo things but I have chosen to talk about one of many indigo flowers, the Iris. Irises have beautiful petals that really stand out, they get there name from the Greek word for rainbow! I love irises because they remind me of the spring, new and fresh which is nice at this time of year as you get to look ahead! They bloom around April/May time in the UK. I suggest growing Irises; they will make a great addition to your garden!

Indigo Fireworks

Fireworks against a dark November sky by Grace
Fireworks against a dark November sky by GraceIndigo Fireworks

Indigo could be seen to be a cold colour but maybe one that you can nestle up and brave the outside world to, which is why I love this time of the year because on the 5th November in the UK we celebrate Guy Fawkes’ night. On this evening we usually light a bonfire, but my favourite part is the fireworks! I love all sorts of fireworks but my favourite are the indigo ones! Also after the fireworks die down the sky goes a sort of indigo colour and it’s all misty! I enjoy looking out the window and spotting fireworks, so do my sisters because it’s really colourful and bright!

These are my choices for this month, if you have any more then let us know.

Indigo: a revolution in colour

Indigo is an unusual colour of “the rainbow”. This is because people have argued whether it is a separate colour or just a dark blue. In fact scientists no longer consider indigo a separate colour. However, indigo is recognized as a shade and historically it was seen as distinct.

Isaac Newton was the first scientist to discover the colours of visible light by splitting sunlight through a prism. The origins of the idea of including indigo as a colour, as Newton (despite his scientific work), as well as his contemporaries believed in the idea of the world being ordered into “Seven”, for example, seven days of the week, seven deadly sins, seven colours of light.

Indigo, despite its controversial status as a colour (at least in the scientific world), is still a shade with a great deal of importance. So much so that the colour or dye of it was a great source of income, and controversial throughout history.

India’s dye trade

The Indigo dye was first produced in India. Indigofera tinctoria or “true indigo” was a plant that would only grow in tropical and sub-tropical climates making India the only place in the old world that could grow the crop. Indigo was first cultivated thousands of years ago. India was the hub for supplying indigo which would reach Mesopatamia, ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Indigo from India was an extremely expensive product that only the richest in society could afford, which is why local less expensive sources of dye were found.

Indigofera_tinctoria
Photograph of “true indigo” plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further North

Woad was a plant that was one of the only local sources that produced indigo dye in northern Europe. The pigment was processed and extensively used for textiles, tapestries and was even used by the Picts or “painted ones” to tattoo their bodies at least as far back as the Roman era.

However, when “true indigo” was increasingly available due to better transport to and from India, and other parts of Asia, there was some controversy. This prompted countries to pass laws to stop true indigo being imported. The laws were partly to stop competition to woad growers, as “true indigo” had a much higher concentration of the dye. In Germany it was called “the devil’s dye”. In France, the death penalty was in force for anyone caught using the “true indigo” dye.

Schreber_woad_mill_1752
Illustration of woad mill from 1752 Thuringia, (now part of Germany)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of an era

Both “true indigo” and “woads” heyday of being lucrative commercial crops was at its end by the beginning of the twentieth century. The colour indigo had been successfully synthesized for mass production by Johannes Pfleger and Karl Heumann and in 1901, the process became patented. It was with this one discovery that the older processes for extracting indigo had become uncompetitive.

Indigoproduktion_BASF_1890
Factory producing indigo dye from 1890

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After thousands of years, the importance of natural sources of indigo became more or less obsolete. However, there is still some hope for the natural supply as woad has had a small revival due to demand for craft dyes, and natural sources are now often favoured.

‘Indigo’ in Gardening

Indigo is a deep purple colour, coming after blue on the visible light spectrum, it appears many times throughout the natural world. It can be seen on many flowers and of course occasionally at dawn and dusk.

IMG_9854
French Lavender (Lavandula Stoechas)

One of the first plants which springs to mind when we think of indigo is lavender with its sweet scent and deep indigo colour it is certainly a very memorable purple flower.

One other interesting appearance of indigo is the ‘Indigofera tinctoria’, the true indigo plant that was the original source for indigo coloured fabric dye. Despite having pale violet flowers the dye is actually obtained by fermenting the leaves to create a precipitate and mixing this with caustic soda.

Another element of indigo in the world we see around us are the numerous other flowers such as those of Buddleia, Rhododendron and Iris. These ignite the garden with shades of deep, shimmering purples. The flowers of the ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ rose are particularly beautiful.

IMG_0266
‘Rhapsody in Blue’ Rose

Indigo is a colour that is bold, it stands out in the landscape and evokes feelings of confidence and strength. It jumps out in the natural world, especially in the gardens amongst the shades of green. Indigo is a majestic colour.

So take the time to appreciate Indigo with its rich hues and deep tones.

Indigo Inky Reads for November

Indigo Reads By Jo
Indigo Reads By Jo

For November and our theme of indigo, it seems apt to offer some new and recent reads that have impressed us here at CLC HQ. Two of the books are psychological thrillers both published earlier on this year and the second is a brand new release from Elly Griffiths called Smoke and Mirrors.

Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths

Smoke and Mirrors: The 2nd Stephens and Mephisto Mystery (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery 2)is a great second follow up to The Zig Zag Girl: The 1st Stephens and Mephisto Mystery (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery 1)  in the 1950s Magic Men Brighton set series with DI Edgar Stephens.  We arrive in Brighton to witness the disappearance of two children later found on a cliff buried under snow with a trail of boiled sweets echoing Grimm’s tale of Hansel and Gretel. The girl discovered was Annie Francis who was obsessed with writing plays and fairy tales and was further encouraged by her teacher to do so. The boy found with Annie was the slightly younger Mark Webster who Annie played with out of school and was like a brother to her. Tensions heighten as a further body is found and another child vanishes prompting a race against time in the freezing December snow. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way, with many mentions that the killer is using the distraction technique of ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ to trick and mislead the investigators. We revisit the larger than life characters from The Zig Zag Girl of Max Mephisto “Magician Extraordinaire” and Diablo, who are both acting in the same Aladdin panto on the palace pier. The plot contains an especially convincing red herring and after this I could not guess who the perpetrator was which is always a good sign for a crime fiction novel. But what Elly Griffiths does beautifully in all her books is paint a very realistic sense of place, when we read the Ruth Galloway novels we feel we are in a marshy Norfolk, in this book you really feel as if you are there with the characters in a very cold, wintry Brighton, the quest to find the missing child and the murderer made even more difficult due to the heavy snowfall. This book (along with her others) is very filmic, they would make excellent TV or film adaptations. If you are in the mood for a great story then I would definitely recommend Smoke and Mirrors to curl up with on a cold winter’s night. If you can, read The Zig Zag Girl first too.

The Sisters by Claire Douglas

The second book I am looking at this month is called The Sisters  and is by new author  Claire Douglas who won the Marie Claire Debut Novel award. It is topical in that it is a psychological thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. The story explores the issues of guilt, grief and memory as each chapter is presented from the point of view of two unreliable narrators. First we meet Abi, a woman who blames herself for her identical twin Lucy’s death and finds herself drawn to the lively privileged company of manipulative artist Bea and her twin brother Ben. As Abi becomes ever more deeply drawn into their lives we see the increased paranoia of her thoughts but also wonder, is Bea out to get her? With alternate chapters from Abi and Bea’s point of view, we wonder who is telling the truth and who isn’t? Issues of class, money and different upbringings also play a part with the sense at the beginning that Abi is drawn into Bea and Ben’s privileged lifestyle in the same way that Charles Ryder is drawn into the lives of the Flytes in Brideshead Revisited. There is an intriguing twist at the very end of the story too which makes you want to read the whole book again!

The Blue by Lucy Clarke

Conversely, sometimes when it gets colder outside we also want to remember warmth and summer weather, this explains the enduring popularity of winter holiday escapes. If you are looking for some summer heat teamed with an intriguing story then I can recommend reading the nautically themed The Blue by Lucy Clarke. This book is largely set in New Zealand and the Philippines as we follow the adventures of two best friends Kitty and Lana who have escaped from their monotonous lives in Bristol to travel to the Philippines where they meet by chance ‘Denny’ a member of the crew of a yacht called The Blue. The Blue seems to be full of crew members who all have secrets and want to escape their lives at home by sailing far away. We meet: Shell who is escaping her parents disapproval yet she still writes to them every week hearing nothing in return, Aaron, the Skipper who has a fiery temper when provoked, Denny, who Lana becomes involved with flouting the ‘no relationships’ rule on board, Heinrich, a former pro tennis player prevented from playing due to injury and Joseph, a mysterious emaciated Frenchman who is lonely and introverted. Amongst this motley crew we witness events through the eyes of Lana and at times feel threatened such as the scene when she is floating on her back in the sea looking up at the inky sky dazzled by the stars then feels something brush against her back underwater! Is it a shark? We do find out later on, but you will need to read it to find out! Once again, at the end of the book there is a great twist that makes you want to start the title from the very beginning!

These are the pick of our reads for November, all gripping and interesting and offer something entertaining for the long indigo November nights! If you like these too or any others then please let us know.