Red in American Beauty


When thinking about color in film the first thing that came to my mind was the use of the color red in American Beauty. American beauty is itself a type of rose with a vibrant red color that recurs throughout the film in different ways. The most obvious is the picture that I used as my media example of the character Angela Hayes in a sea of the red flowers as Lester Burnham fantasizes about her. I have read a few interpretations of this scene and the color, and the one that makes most sense to me is it being a symbol for Lester's lost youth and the sexuality and counter-culture life that he grew up in and was a product of before he became a spineless working stiff. As he fantasizes about her and the vibrant red, he is flooded with the youth that he once had and his motivation in the film is to get with Angela and in a way get his 'mojo' back.

The roses also recur when Lester fantasizes about Angela during the halftime show of the high school basketball game where she is a cheerleader. Lester becomes mesmerized by Angela's vitality and the film portrays himself as the only one sitting in the stands as Angela seductively dances for him and eventually roses flow out of her shirt as Lester almost voyeuristically watches.

The roses also creep into lester's home as his wife Carolyn meticulously prunes the roses. In Carolyn's case, she has no interest in re-visiting her youth but rather moving on; she wants to be the housewife that sells real estate as a career and wants a home life. One could say that her manicuring the red roses represents her want of leaving her youth in the past and perfecting the life that she desperately wants to live (and fails at).

All in all, there is a symbolism to the vibrant red that is used in American Beauty; for Lester Burnham it is his desire for youth and his lust for Angela and for Carolyn it is her desire to be the perfect housewife.


Red, is a very high energy color. In my perspective, if an artist who wears red color outfits or represented by red color symbols in movie, that person should be a unique character. American beauty is a very good example as demonstrating color effect. Compared to Angela Hayes, Lester Burnham does not has a very high color energy, that because of his outfits, and the deep color temperature of his bedroom. Therefore, audience would concentrate on Angela Hayes more on this scene. In addition, I like the idea of putting numerous roses around Angela Hayes, which makes her look more erogenous and elegant. Although I have never seen this movie before, I bet Angela Hayes is an attractive girl on this movie.

I agree with lingx095 (sorry im not sure about last names) but anyways Red is indeed a very high energy color and any character that is going to be shown in as much red as Angela Hayes was in this clip should be unique (either in a good way or a bad way).

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This page contains a single entry by fabe0098 published on February 10, 2013 3:06 PM.

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