Discover the impact of houseplants in movies, from their symbolic significance to their role in storytelling and set design. Explore how houseplants enhance the visual aesthetic, convey messages about sustainability and human connection, and create immersive environments. From classic films like The Great Gatsby to modern hits like WALL-E, houseplants play a crucial role in the cinematic experience. Don't miss the growing awareness of sustainability in the film industry, as exemplified by the eco-friendly Briiv air filter. Experience the power of houseplants in movies and their contribution to a greener future.

Introduction

Houseplants have become a ubiquitous presence in our homes, offices, and public spaces. Apart from their aesthetic appeal and health benefits, these green companions have also found a place in the world of movies. Houseplants in films are not mere props; they often hold symbolic significance, helping to enhance storytelling and create immersive environments. In this article, we will explore the impact of houseplants in movies, delving into their symbolism, portrayal, and overall significance in popular films.

Houseplants as Symbolic Elements

Just like other visual motifs in movies, houseplants serve as powerful symbols, imbuing scenes with deeper meaning and evoking emotions. Different types of houseplants are utilized to convey specific themes and character traits. Let’s delve into some notable examples:

The Great Gatsby (2013)

In this opulent adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, the abundance of houseplants in lavish settings reflects the era’s decadence and excess. Phalaenopsis and Cymbidium Orchids, often displayed as specimen plants, cascade in abundance, emphasizing the grandiosity and high living of the Roaring Twenties[^1].

When a Stranger Calls (2006)

The movie features a Zen garden with a carefully planned arrangement of houseplants influenced by eastern feng shui. The use of bubbling water, soft lighting, polished stones, and plants like Olea, ferns, Aspleniums, Philodendron, Beaucarnea, and Nymphaeceae (water lily) creates an atmosphere of tranquility and serenity, contrasting with the dark reality that the house conceals a killer. This contrast adds to the film’s suspense and creates dramatic irony[^1].

Leon (1994)

In the film “Leon,” a hitman named Leon tends to an Aglaonema silver queen plant, elevating it to the status of his “best friend.” The plant injects color into an otherwise dreary environment, symbolizing hope and the redemptive powers of nature. This symbolism serves to humanize the intensely stoic and solitary hitman character and provides a poignant visual contrast within the film[^1].

Mad Men

In the TV series “Mad Men,” the absence of houseplants, particularly in Don Draper’s office, reflects the inner turmoil and emptiness faced by the character. The beautifully designed office from the 1960s lacks natural elements, hinting at the lack of authenticity and connection Draper perpetuates in his personal and professional life. The addition of plants could enhance the character’s well-being and serve as a visual metaphor for growth and renewal[^1].

Alexander (2004)

The grandiose set of “Alexander” includes the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The interpretation of the gardens in the movie boasts a lavish display of tropical plants such as Musa Bajoo, scindapsus, and scandens. The abundance of greenery contributes to visually stunning costumes and creates a vibrant backdrop for the film’s dramatic scenes[^1].

The Power of Plants in Film

Beyond their symbolic role, houseplants in movies also have the power to enhance storytelling and convey messages about nature, human connection, and sustainability.

Passengers

In “Passengers,” an oak tree is ingeniously incorporated into the design of a spaceship’s luxurious interior. The presence of the tree creates an oasis-like environment, emphasizing the connection between plants and nature. This captivating visual element enhances the storytelling, providing a sense of awe and wonder to the futuristic setting[^2].

Leon: The Professional

In “Leon: The Professional,” the Aglaonema plant mentioned earlier not only adds color but also serves as an air purifier in the character’s confined living space. This integration of houseplants into interior design highlights their role in improving indoor air quality. Additionally, the plant’s presence enhances the character’s environment, transforming it into a more livable space, and fosters a sense of care and responsibility[^2].

WALL-E

In the animated film “WALL-E,” a small plant plays a significant role in symbolizing Earth’s future and the importance of nature. The film’s underlying environmental message is reinforced through the emphasis on the plant as a catalyst for change. The resilience of plants, even in the face of an ecological dystopia, underscores the vital role they play in sustaining life and preserving our planet[^2].

The Martian

In “The Martian,” a stranded astronaut cultivates potatoes as a means of survival on Mars. The film showcases the resourcefulness and resilience of plants, as well as their potential to sustain human life even in the harshest environments. It serves as a reminder of the importance of plants in providing food and sustenance, even in extreme circumstances[^2].

Little Joe

The film “Little Joe” explores the psychological impact of plants by featuring a crimson flower specially engineered to make its owner happy. This intriguing concept delves into the potential therapeutic and emotional benefits of plants. It raises thought-provoking questions about the ethical boundaries of plant manipulation and the relationship between humans and nature[^2].

Houseplants as Home Decorating and Styling Accents

Beyond their symbolic and storytelling significance, houseplants have found a place in movies as accessories in home decorating and styling. Filmmakers pay careful attention to every detail, including the selection and placement of houseplants to enhance the overall visual aesthetic of scenes.

Certain houseplants have become iconic in movies due to their distinctive features and versatility in complementing various interior styles. Let’s take a look at some popular houseplants often showcased in films:

Monstera Deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant)

Monstera Deliciosa, with its distinct split leaves, often appears in movies set in tropical or exotic locations. Its presence symbolizes adventure, the allure of an unknown world, and adds a touch of the exotic to film environments[^2].

Ficus Lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig)

The grandeur of the Ficus Lyrata, with its large, violin-shaped leaves, has been used to amplify elegance in film interiors. It reflects sophistication, refinement, and adds a touch of natural beauty to various settings[^2].

Sansevieria (Snake Plant)

Sansevieria, known for its air-purifying properties, often finds its way into films set in homes and offices. Its upright growth and unyielding nature symbolize endurance and unrelenting personalities, adding character to scenes[^2].

Epipremnum Aureum (Pothos)

With their trailing growth and lush leaves, Pothos plants evoke a sense of comfort and coziness. Often positioned to drape over bookshelves or cascade from higher locations, they add warmth and a touch of nature to film settings[^2].

Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)

The graceful blooms of the Peace Lily have made appearances in films to signify purity, renewal, and turning points in character arcs. Their presence often corresponds to significant emotional moments throughout the narrative[^2].

Chlorophytum Comosum (Spider Plant)

Spider Plants, with their arching leaves and “spiderettes,” often find their way into characters’ eclectic and artistic spaces. Their visually intriguing form adds an element of intrigue to film environments[^2].

Hedera Helix (English Ivy)

English Ivy, with its climbing nature, adds a romantic allure when shown climbing walls or trellises in films. It is often used to depict historical settings, secret gardens, or an air of mystery and enchantment[^2].

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera, associated with healing and soothing properties, adds a meaningful touch to scenes involving characters in need of physical or emotional care. Its presence elicits a sense of comfort and well-being[^2].

Cacti and Succulents

Cacti and succulents, with their unique forms and ability to thrive in minimalistic conditions, often represent characters with unconventional personalities. They reflect independence, resilience, and a connection to nature[^2].

The Briiv Air Filter: A Sustainable Alternative

The impact of houseplants in movies extends beyond their symbolism and aesthetic appeal. As many filmmakers emphasize sustainability, the introduction of the Briiv air filter stands as an acknowledgment of the importance of clean air and environmental consciousness. The Briiv air filter, which claims to be equivalent to over three thousand houseplants, is designed with eco-friendly materials and takes a comprehensive approach to air purification[^2]. This innovative filter incorporates moss, coconut, carbon, and silk micro-structures, providing an effective and sustainable alternative to traditional plastic-based air filters[^2].

By prioritizing sustainability, the makers of the Briiv air filter contribute to a greener film industry that considers the impact of its props and sets on the environment. This initiative aligns with the growing awareness of climate change and the need for sustainable solutions in various industries, including film production.

Conclusion

Houseplants in movies play a crucial role in enhancing storytelling and creating immersive environments. Their symbolism, aesthetic appeal, and association with nature contribute to the overall visual and emotional impact of films. While serving as visual cues and decorative elements, houseplants also underscore messages about sustainability, human connection, and our relationship with the natural world. The growing awareness of these elements in film production showcases the shifting priorities of the industry toward environmental consciousness and a greener future.

Next time you settle in to watch your favorite movies, keep an eye out for the houseplants that subtly add depth to the storytelling. From symbolizing the excesses of a bygone era to embodying the transformative powers of nature, houseplants have become an integral part of the cinematic experience.

References

[^1]: Flowers in Film: The Meaningful Role They’ve Played in Cinema. (n.d.). UrbanStems. https://urbanstems.com/blog/guide/flowers-in-film
[^2]: Plant Film Club: The Power of Plants in Film. (n.d.). Film and Furniture. https://filmandfurniture.com/2022/07/power-of-plants-in-film/