RUBY: Seeing Red

By Leah Sinclair


The color red evokes emotional and physical responses different from all the other colours out there. Filled with passion and anger, love and rage, the colour psychology behind red can often bring out the extreme side in human nature, and has been a subject in film for many years.

The soon to be released A Most Violent Year, encapsulates elements of red in its entirety. Fury, lust, rage, love, corruption, anti establishment, and living in environment where seeing red is a way of life.

Starring Oscar nominated actress Jessica Chastain and Oscar Issac, A Most Violent Year, breaks down the year 1981 – the most violent and corrupt year in New York history, while detailing an ambitious immigrant (Issac) and his family trying to live the American dream in the most hardcore city around.

The concept of the American dream, and what it takes for people to attain it, can cause bloodshed in extreme circumstances as seen here, and is repeatedly used as a metaphor for the struggling lower-class trying to make it.  This can be seen in A Most Violent Year, with phenomenal performances from leading actors, directed by the brilliant J.C Chandor, all while characterising a time in America where seeing red was the only way to survive. To win was to be corrupt, to survive was to be furious, and where the American dream and anti establishment met in the middle.

This angle of anger and corruption follows from the movie screen to our tv screens, with shows like House of Cards also emitting red beams of anger and corruption, seeping through a city which paints the town scarlet red with the lack of moral compassion amongst its characters. Often a common theme in entertainment, we can see how red remains a constant theme in the back of filmmakers minds, with movies such as American History X, This is England, God Bless America, Natural Born Killers and even Bonfire of the Vanities using themes associated with red to convey their feelings of frustration to society, life and more.

Red encapsulates us as humans, and is why it continues to be the backbone to subject matters we constantly face. Red is a weakness and a strength, a battle between love and hate, a struggle to control oneself once it takes over. The power of red is the power of life, and with that, an all consuming battle we continue to face on – and off screen.

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