Color By Numbers: Boogie Nights
Paul Thomas Anderson's big bright shining star.
Two decades ago, Paul Thomas Anderson burst onto the scene with Boogie Nights, an epic portrait of the adult film industry in southern California during the 1970's and 1980's. It was his second film—the lesser-known neo-noir Hard Eight has its own history of executive meddling and frantic recuts—but it immediately established Anderson as a filmmaker whose every film would be an event. It's glitzy, dynamic, and sweeping, packed full of small comic and tragic arcs underneath the larger rise-and-fall story of Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg). From the opening tracking shot through a night club to the infamous final scene, Boogie Nights remains a pivotal film for almost everyone who sees it. This video essay catalogues the visual palette Anderson used throughout the film, a mix of California swimming pools and sunshine and the bright primary colors of the 70's and 80's.