Essay Sample: The Application of the Red Curtain in the Film 'In the Mood for Love'

Published: 2022-07-27
Essay Sample: The Application of the Red Curtain in the Film 'In the Mood for Love'
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Movie
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1007 words
9 min read

'In the Mood for Love' is director Won Kai Wai's film, depicting a secret love story between the main characters in the 1960s in Hong Kong. The main story line of the film surrounds the leading actor's wife who has an intimate affair with the leading actress' husband; so they start to imagine and imitate what each of their respective partners would do. However, the main actor, Chow Muyun, has his own different plan where he wants to revenge on the main actress' husband; making the main actress Su Lizhen, fall in love with him and then abandon her. However, everything starts to develop in an unexpected direction. In the movie, the director shot a red curtain over and over again with different compositions and from different angles. Hrvoje Galic (2017), in his criticism, says 'the curtains are intensely red, portraying the passion they feel for each other'. More specifically, the red curtain is symbolic in representing Su Lizhen's subtle emotional fluctuation from hesitation to deep love for Chow Muyun.

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The first scene of the red curtain carries a foreshadowing of what is to come later on in the story. There is a plot before the appearance of the red curtain. Chow asked Su to go to the new house he was going to buy, but Su refused. Then Chow booked a hotel, with an aim of executing the next step of his revenge plan. The red curtain by the hallway opposite the hotel room appears the first time in the movie. It symbolizes their blooming relationship, but at this moment only Chow is feeling something because he is alone by himself at the red curtain in the first shoot. A critique says that 'the color of red has the strongest shade in all colors, and represents the feeling of enthusiasm, joy, strength and passion. The red color in the movie is almost like blood and brings us more enthusiasm'(Chuanxin Pu). The bloody red curtain the director used in the scene impresses the audience and carries a foreshadowing of what is to come later in the movie.

The second scene of the red curtain reveals the emotional hesitation Su had for Chow. The scene appears after Chow executed his plan to get revenge. He pretended to be sick and took three days off from his work at the newspaper office. Su called the office later and was told that Chow was absent. Therefore, Su asked to go off work early and went straight to Chow's hotel. In the scene of Su's action in hotel, the director shows Su went upstairs and downstairs twice, passing by the red curtain over and over again, revealing her emotional hesitation for Chow and her doubts in entering the world of Chow.

The third and the fourth scenes of the red curtain are an indication that Su falls in love with Chow and their relationship has gone on to the next level. In this scene, Su is seen standing by the door of the hotel room while saying goodbye to Chow. The red curtain occupies three quarters of the screen in the entire scene with the camera shot at an oblique angle. This symbolizes that Su's heart has already intensely fallen for Chow who got an important position in her heart. Su leaves the room and walks in the hall. She steps forward with the camera backward, then she stops, and the shot becomes a still shot. The whole scene shows that Su has fallen in love with Chow and their relationship has become closer and deeper. The still shot is interesting and thoughtful. Why does Su stop in her steps instead of continuing walking? This is simply because a still shot on something is meant to emphasize that specific thing in cinematic photography. The stop that Su makes is to emphasize that she is trapped in her love for Chow.

The fifth and sixth scenes reveal Su's deep love for Chow. Chow proposed that they elope with Su but actually it is just a part of his broader revenge plan. When Su is on her way to the hotel after packing her luggage, Chow has already left the hotel and gone away. In the scene of the red curtain, Chow makes a still pose as he walks in the hall, but the camera moves backward. It looks like Chow is stationary in the hall which implies that he has remained in Su's heart even if he has left her. Su comes to the hotel later, but she finds Chow has left. She sits in the room staring blankly and the scene lasts for a while with an interruption of the tearing of the red curtain in the empty hall. The red curtain has been blown up by wind with no one in the hallway. The tearing lasts for a few seconds before it gets back to the scene where Su is sitting. The whole scene implies that although Su found Chow had left, and she sits there like a statue, her inner world is fluctuating like the flattering red curtain, which suggests she feels deep love for Chow and she could not control herself.

In summary, the six scenes of the red curtain present Su's emotion for Chow. It starts from no feeling, to hesitation, to falling in love, and eventually being deep in love. The director never presents her affection plainly but in an obscure and profound way. Why? This is because Su has a husband so her affection for Chow is not allowed and immoral from his point of view, and she always tries to inhibit her emotions and behavior whenever she is closer to Chow. It will be more reasonable and proper to present her affection in this way. We can tell that the director depicted Su's affection perfectly with the six scenes of the red curtain.


Galic, H. (2017, January 5). 7 Reasons Why "In the Mood for Love" Is The Best Romantic Film of the 21st Century. Retrieved from Taste of Cinema:

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