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Act, Rinse, Repeat: The Meaning of Orange Hair

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Closer, Natalie Portman
Character: Stripper, provocateur, tourist.
Crayola Hue: Blood orange (also, pink).
Roots? Yes.
Orange Alert! Breakdown, ennui.
Orange, Decoded: Closer’s final shot frames Portman beneath a sign for Thoroughly Modern Millie. Like Millie’s Jazz Age bob, Portman’s jagged do symbolizes her liberated (post)modernity.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kate Winslet
Character: Strange, forgetful girlfriend.
Crayola Hue: Clementine orange, “Agent Orange” (also, “Blue Ruin”).
Roots? Yes.
Orange Alert! Heartbreak, amnesia.
Orange, Decoded: Winslet’s hair is as multilayered, multicolored, and in flux as the film’s depiction of memory—and, indeed, is a visual cue for the criss-crossing narrative. “I apply my personality in a paste,” says Clementine. “You?”

Run, Lola, Run, Franka Potente
Character: Concerned girlfriend, Olympic-caliber runner.
Crayola Hue: Toxic orange.
Roots? No.
Orange Alert! Boyfriend killed (in two of three film scenarios).
Orange, Decoded: Like the techno tracks underscoring her run, Potente’s superhero hair enhances the formal intensity of the film and amplifies its futuristic flash—while singling her out in crowd shots, like the red overcoat in Schindler’s List.

Pieces of April, Katie Holmes
Character: Another nice girl on the Lower East Side.
Crayola Hue: St. Marks orange.
Roots? Yes.
Orange Alert! Mother has terminal cancer.
Orange, Decoded: Holmes’s sloppy, halfhearted dye job—the most realistic of the batch—jibes with her character’s postadolescent pull away from, and back toward, her family: i.e., her roots.

The Fifth Element, Milla Jovovich
Character: The perfect being, and a world-destroying weapon.
Crayola Hue: Alien orange.
Roots? No.
Orange Alert! All life forms in the galaxy are nearly exterminated.
Orange, Decoded: Luc Besson cast Jovovich, the studio blurb booms, as “a perfect beauty, a perfect being, a perfect weapon.” In space, orange is perfec


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