Every Shot on House of Cards Looks the Same

How to compose a House of Cards shot: blue up front, yellow in back.

To be clear, House of Cards has excellent cinematography. Every shot is composed with precision and austere elegance, all emphasizing the cold, calculating world of Frank Underwood. In this podcast interview, the series cinematographer Igor Martinovik elaborates on how the show uses its visual style to emphasize its story; for instance, the camera never pans and tilts at the same time, helping create a sense of stillness.

But, that consistent excellence includes one trait so consistent it becomes baffling. Almost every single frame of this show is composed to place a pale blue object in the foreground with a pale yellow light in the background. Now, sometimes the foreground object is more black than blue, sometimes the background veers toward a sickly green, sometimes they’re outside and the background is necessarily blue or black sky, but once you begin noticing this particular habit of the House of Cards color pallete, it is hard to unsee. I became so obsessed with this quirk I had to make a video demonstrating it. I chose three episodes from seasons one and two, scrubbed randomly through them, and excerpted a shot from the scenes I landed on. Every scene I found contained this color combination. Check it out above.