Blue Is the Warmest Color: A look at the graphic novel behind the Cannes-winning movie.

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Sept. 3 2013 1:16 PM

Blue Is the Warmest Color: A Look at the Graphic Novel Behind the Cannes-Winning Movie

Le blue est une couleur chaude (Blue Is the Warmest Color) was the surprise winner of the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but the lesbian love story began life as a comic book. Today, Julie Maroh’s graphic novel, which first appeared in French in 2010, is making its English-language debut. You can see a short excerpt below.

Blue Is the Warmest Color tells the story of Clementine, a high-school junior who is instantly besotted with a blue-haired woman when they lock eyes on a busy street. Her gray world is immediately suffused with intriguing wisps of blue. While there’s immense pleasure in the relationship Clem eventually builds with azure-tressed Emma, the homophobic reactions of friends and family exact a toll on her mental and physical health.


Maroh, who was just 19 when she started the comic, manages to convey the excitement, terror, and obsession of young love—and to show how wildly teenagers swing from one extreme emotion to the next. The graphic novel also contains some stirring sex scenes. (These scenes make up a tiny fraction of the book, while reviewers of Abdellatif Kechiche’s movie tend to describe its bedroom scenes as “extended.” Maroh has said that except for a few passages, she found the film’s sexual images to be “a brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex, which turned into porn, and made me very ill at ease.”)

Ultimately, Blue Is the Warmest Color is a sad story about loss and heartbreak, but while Emma and Clementine’s love lasts, it’s exhilarating and sustaining. In the scene reproduced here, Emma tells the infatuated Clementine about her coming-out process and her relationship with her girlfriend, Sabine.

An excerpt from Blue Is the Warmest Color, by Julie Maroh
An excerpt from Blue Is the Warmest Color, by Julie Maroh

Courtesy of Arsenal Pulp Press

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 


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