Meaning of the Color Red in the Movie, American Beauty

After observing the movie American Beauty, I have done a few pieces of research It turns out that American beauty is actually a name of a type of roses. Its flower phase is really short but beautiful. The director uses this name here as a metaphor to present the leading man Lester Burnham‘s happy but fleet period before he died. The movie starts with Jane Burnham, Lester Burnham’s daughter, lying on the bed complaining about how bad her father is.

A voice outside of the screen asks her: “Do you want me to kill him?” Surprisingly, she says “yes”. From the beginning, we can tell that the movie is talking about a group of people who has their own puzzle deep down inside them. Even though they don’t say how stressed they are, but their actions all show that their bad emotions have accumulated for a long time, In this movie, everyone has their illness.

They not only show their crazy through everyday actions, but oftentimes there are more meaning behind the little details.

In this movie, the color red shows up pretty much every time big events are happening Here I want to analyze the meaning of red to different characters. All of these bad emotions are embodied in the leading character Lester Burnham. He is in his middle age, but he accomplishes nothing. His wife is not having sex with him for a long time and his daughter treats him with no respect. Lester‘s career is also facing troubles His manager makes him write a report about how to cut his salary which is a big humiliation.

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His life cannot be more miserable than any other middle age men in the world since usually middle age men are all successful in their careers.

Their wives and children respect them as the head of the house. After he shows up at Jane’s school activities to earn her respect, he accidentally meets the prettiest girl, Angela, in her daughter’s school. The first time he sees this girl, his imagination comes out. It is just the girl dancing in front of him, and her chest is filling with roses. Here is the important red meaning of this whole movie. To the girl herself, she is young, snappy and gorgeous. The roses here stand for her beauty and feeling of freshness. Her body is covered fully by the red roses. It is a very significant symbol which we can analyze from this scene that Lester suddenly feels like his spirit is awaked by this young attractive lady.

That night Lester has another fantasy of a naked Angela, She is sitting in a bathtub, fully naked covered by red roses again. The red here strongly points out Lester’s desire to beautiful things such as the young girl’s body Since his wife does not have sex with him for a long time, his intense desire for sexual intercourse can tell by how strong the red is After the spiritual awareness, Lester finally decides that his life is not going to become more miserable. He fights against his boss to show his manliness. He starts to do whatever he wants to show that he can still be handsome just like all the other teenage boys, he gets back the job he did when he was a teenage boy, and he begins to work out every day. He even buys a cool red car to show that how free he can bet Between this period of Lester‘s life, his has actual goals, The way he chases beauty is the way he releases his desire, he thinks if he does that he will get Angela and that is the real happiness.

However, after he finds out that the girl is still virgint He finally refuses 1 his desire carrying away. He goes over all the happy memories that he had through his whole life. That moment he finally appreciates that how lucky he is Like all the people, he just omits all those happy small moments and never learn how to be satisfied. Also, like all the happy moments cannot last for a long time, this ends up with the gun shot. The blood immerses all of his head. This red here seems ironic. Frist, it satires the action of the military guy who always looks cold»blood and tough. He always shows how tall and big he is, but deep down inside his heart, he does not have the courage to admit his actual sexual preference.

The red here points out how fake this guy is He would rather kill an innocent man than let out his true sexual preference. How pathetic it is, he cannot even face up himself. Another level of sarcasm is to this whole movie. This red presents the fatal attraction, just like the excessive happiness for all those characters This crazy behavior may be their way to achieving the harmony, and death is the sacrifice Just like if you want someone or something you have to sacrifice part of your identity. Then, let’s talk about Lester‘s wife Carolyn who is also an important character in this movie. Carolyn’s tragedy is more about family and pursues too much about perfectionl Starting from the red door of Burnharn’s house, It appears to be happy on the outside, while on the inside they- have tremendous deep»rooted problems This is also how Carolyn expresses to the general public.

The red appears on the brochure of her real estate business and the red wall shows up at the house she cleans up for selling. All these behaviors present the deformation of Carolyn’s way of pursuing the perfection In order to tell other people how successful and happy she is, so that she can earn respect and get more customers. After she cheats with another guy, she changes her dress color from grey to red She uses this way to show that she has been changed, She wants present that she is a passionate woman which is totally not bothered by little nothings of life. Like her husband, she is also chasing the freedom of life She is the typical type of woman who is bound by marriage, so that in the end she ends up want to kill her husband. Therefore the blood, in the end, wakes Carolyn’s Paralytic nerves, it remind her how much good thing she owns and her love to Lester. But it was too late, In conclusion, the main representation of red in this movie is spiritual awakening, the joy of life and love, the sexual desire, the fatal attraction, the symbol of happy and successful It also satires how ridiculous the people behave in their life and how stupid they are that they cannot noticed that they actually can be happy, but they just never satisfied to their current situation.

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Meaning of the Color Red in the Movie, American Beauty. (2023, Jan 09). Retrieved from

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