Whilst neon signs and lights are traditionally used for advertising; conjuring up images of the Las Vegas strip, and bars in the city, there is a much subtler use for neon imagery in film. The appeal comes from the way it can underpin a scene, the bright primary colours set the mood, creating urban and cultural imagery that simply cannot be produced by anything else.
Neon has been around since the beginning of the 19th century, how many of these films featuring neon have you seen?
It is common for people to assume that cinema only really discovered neon in film from the 1980’s onwards. This rings true when we think back to films including Blade Runner from 1982; depicting a dystopian future in Los Angeles in November 2019, it is a classic science fiction film. Full of neon signs and imagery to conjure up a futuristic feel for the audience.
The long awaited sequel to the equally neon-filled Tron (also from 1982), ‘Tron: Legacy’ also heavily features neon imagery as a main theme throughout the film.
The characters in this film certainly are out of this world, therefore to depict them an entirely fictional UI was designed in neon colours.
Saturday Night Fever is the film that ignited a disco dance craze across America; starring John Travolta this film was hugely popular and fraught with neon signs.
You might be wondering why we’ve included this one in here; though Alfred Hitchcock’s Pyscho is in black and white – it features one of the most recognisable neon signs in the history of cinema.
Another Alfred Hitchcock classic, scenes throughout psychological thriller, Vertigo, are bathed in neon hues and you can spot a few bright neon signs through the windows.
Only God Forgives was a nod to director Alejandro Jodorowsky; his creativity as a surrealist master enabled director Nicolas Winding Refn to be bathe the film in neon hues and imagery.
An iconic scene from this 007 film is set in Shanghai, but not many people will know that it was actually filmed at Pinewood studios in the United Kingdom. The LED signage featuring a large neon blue jellyfish is the perfect backdrop for this fight scene.
Are there any other films you’ve spotted that feature neon as a theme or recognisable neon signs? Comment below and let us know!