Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 18
  • Crime, Drama
  • 1988
  • 121 mins

Colors

Colors

Synopsis

Controversial 1980s film about Los Angeles gang life. Robert Duvall and Sean Penn star as cops with very different methods of confronting this violent, troubled world

About

In the soundtrack to Colors, rapper Ice T sings: "We gangs of LA will never die, just multiply." Fifteen years after this film was made, there were an estimated 70,000-200,000 members in roughly 500 gangs - of all colours. Dennis Hopper's striking, controversial film was one of the first to attempt to get under the skin of LA gang culture, inspiring the many 'hood' films that proliferated in the early 1990s.

Hopper's central characters - cops Robert Duvall and Sean Penn - are the traditional mismatched partners who eventually learn more about themselves and become buddies. Conventional aside, in Penn and Duvall we have two of Hollywood's most enigmatic and stylish actors, and the former's hot-headed, youthful aggression contrasts well with Duvall's earnest restraint.

There are several strands to the plot, but the action mainly revolves round the two most well-known gangs of Los Angeles, the Crips and the Bloods, and their drug-dealing activities. The human interest comes from Penn's romance with Maria Conchita Alonso, who plays a hispanic girl who can't quite come to terms with the fact that she's sleeping with the enemy, and also the altogether sadder, more touching story of Frog (Silva), a gang member who's trying to keep his little bro off the streets.

Frog has reconciled himself to life in the gangs and appreciates the sense of belonging and 'protection' it affords him. But he knows that his existence is really no more than an ongoing exercise in survival, and hopes for a little more for his younger sibling. His story sums up the film. It's bleak and offers no solutions but merely seeks to understand. And is all the better for it.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Don Cheadle, Robert Duvall, Randy Brooks, Maria Conchita Alonso, Sean Penn
  • Director: Dennis Hopper
  • Screen Writer: Michael Schiffer, Richard Di Lello
  • Producer: Robert H Solo
  • Photographer: Haskell Wexler
  • Composer: Herbie Hancock

In a nutshell

An authentic and moving insight into gang violence that neither moralises nor romanticises. Forget the intervening 15 years of gangsta history when you watch it - this captures LA street society just as drug- and gun-related crime were about to explode.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Gone Too Far

    Gone Too Far

    Two estranged teenage brothers, one who grew up in Nigeria and one who frew up in Peckham, meet for the first time and struggle to accept each other

    On Film4: 10 Jul 11:10PM

  • Film4 The Three Stooges

    The Three Stooges

    The Farrelly Brothers pay tribute to The Three Stooges as Sean Hayes, Will Sasso and Chris Diamantopoulos bring a new take on Larry, Curly and Moe

    On Film4: 4 Jul 7:10PM

  • Film4 Kick Ass

    Summer Action Season 2015 on Film4

    Twelve nights of blockbuster action and adventure, every night from 9 on Film4

  • Film4 Arbitrage

    Arbitrage on Film4

    Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling star in a drama about a hedge fund manager who makes a crucial error while attempting to sell his portfolio

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share