Here is the satirical meme about Mexico cities in movies:

enter image description here

Movies like Traffic (2000), the plot took place in Mexico cities, also used brown tint a lot.

Why do movie directors use brown tint in Mexico cities?

  • 15
    It seems cherry picking... you have one movie example and an image that doesn't even come from the said movie. Jun 27, 2019 at 13:39
  • 8
    @SilverBebs, not a movie, but Breaking Bad definitely has this. Robert Rodriguez movies has that too.
    – user28434
    Jun 28, 2019 at 11:47
  • 3
    To other commenters: if it attempts to answer the question, it should be posted as an answer. (That's what they're for!) Comments are for suggesting improvements to the question or for asking necessary clarifying questions, not for posting unsupported answers.
    – V2Blast
    Jun 28, 2019 at 23:29
  • 2
    @V2Blast sometimes one feels they don't have enough to make a solid answer, but feel it's worth mentioning a possibility of a potential answer. This can help both the OP better clarify their Q by having a brief conversation AND sometimes it does lead others to use the information to form a better answer. Jul 1, 2019 at 16:01
  • Not All Movies Do That <br> The movie "Romancing the Bride" is a good example. Of course it's basically a 90 minute advertisement for Mexican vacation resorts disguised as a romantic comedy. It's still decently watchable given the caliber of the acting talent and a good script. If anything, they go for the typical amber lighting and soft focus of most romantic movies. They don't let that interfere with the spectacular outdoor shots though. Jul 19, 2022 at 12:39

1 Answer 1


From the trivia page on imdb for Traffic:

To achieve a distinctive look for each different vignette in the story, Steven Soderbergh used three different film stocks (and post-production techniques), each with their own color treatment and grain for the print. The "Wakefield" story features a colder, bluer tone to match the sad, depressive emotion. The "Ayala" story is bright, shiny, and saturated in primary colors, especially red, to match the glitzy surface of Helena's life. The "Mexican" story appears grainy, rough, and hot to go with the rugged Mexican landscape and congested cities.

Film processing (or digital processing filters) is often used in films to convey mood/heat/other emotions. This is all that's in play here.

Mexico is often viewed as being hot and claustrophobic - the film treatment here (and in other films) uses this to enhance the mood of the film.


Soderbergh's rationale for differing colour temperatures and grain effects in different strands of the story of "Traffic" can easily to be applied to other directors and films. Directors can and do use film treatments, editing styles, and music in order to enhance the emotional impacts of scenes, characters, events, and entire films.

It's outside the scope of this answer to include exhaustive examples. However, the main point of this answer is that directors aren't likely to apply film treatements in order to convey a stereotypical perception of any particular location, although this may occasionally be the case.

  • 11
    This answer only really explains Traffic, the question is asking about Hollywood in general.
    – user
    Jun 28, 2019 at 10:22
  • 4
    I don't think that it takes a huge leap of imagination to assume that other directors also use similar techniques and reasons when applying treatments to films.
    – user43022
    Jun 28, 2019 at 10:32
  • 32
    @user While the OP makes the claim that this is "always" being done, they only provide the example of Traffic. This answer directly addresses the reasons for this choice in that film. Jun 28, 2019 at 11:00
  • 4
    @GrimmTheOpiner no need for pedantry. In this context, "always" means "common", not 'universal operator' in set theory. And yes it is common. See for instance the mariachi trilogy youtube.com/watch?v=4D7ogIMnRq4 most outdoors scenes have very warm, often extreme pallettes. Compare to indoors / club nightscenes in the same trailer. Jun 28, 2019 at 13:17
  • 5
    In Breaking Bad's case, they were showing that the segment was a flashback, simulating the yellowing of old photos and film. Still doesn't explain Mexico. Jun 28, 2019 at 17:58

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