It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the Nostalgia of Color
Tis the season of tricks or treats, and that means that everyone will be watching their favorite Halloween movies or specials from their childhoods. October is a month where nostalgia takes hold, and childhoods are revisited through specials such as Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, and other Halloween related shows. One in particular however has seemed to stand the test of time, and open the floodgates of nostalgia to many people around the globe. The special I am talking about is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Though the story is unique and memorable, I believe that the key to the nostalgia flow is through the art and colors presented during the special.
The main colors always correlated with Halloween are orange, purple, and green. Within the Great Pumpkin special, these colors are used in a warm, fuzzy way that can make viewers reminiscent of the Halloweens of their youth. Memories of class Halloween parties, raking leaves, going to pumpkin patches, and being out on the night of Halloween as a kid are all things that can be brought back while watching this special. Orange in particular is the color that I believe brings out the most nostalgia.
In the opening scene, characters Linus and Lucy venture out into the pumpkin patch to select a pumpkin to carve. In these scenes, the sky is a light pink while the sun is setting as a bright red. The trees they pass by are all filled with colors of yellows and oranges, with leaves scattered among the ground. Colors presented in this scene give a warm feeling, like walking through the warm, rich colors of autumn as a child. All the colors are also done in a watercolor fashion, which can elevate the nostalgia as that was a common style in many children’s books. The entire scene just gives me a warm feeling, as if I am taking a time machine back into my own childhood.
The nighttime scenes also continue this trend of nostalgic colors. The art style of the background uses black, but also uses blues and purple to give the night sky some kind of life. A chalk like design is also used in the sky to create an effect of clouds. The night sky during Halloween always gave off a different feel than other nights of the year to me as a child. The color usage could have easily just been black with strands of white for clouds, but through the use of cooler colors a different feeling is portrayed. With the cool colors surrounding the night scenes, contrasting colors such as yellow are employed in windows of homes to add depth to the scene. Straight bright yellow makes for a more interesting light source than a rendered window with light. The style choice allows nostalgia to grow because memory sometimes only brings back splashes of color, and the bright yellow on the dark background could easily seep in with memories of trick or treating.
I may just be thinking all of this due to seeing the special a thousand times as a kid, and every October since, but I do think the art style employs some level of nostalgia that everyone can grasp. You may not get the same direct levels of nostalgia as I do, but you just might find warm memories within the splotches of color and pencil lines that every scene includes.