Discover the significance of plants in movies and how they contribute to the cultural impact of films. From symbolic meanings to visual impact, plants add depth and evoke emotions in storytelling. Explore examples from iconic films like The Wizard of Oz and American Beauty, and learn how plants inspire careers, raise environmental awareness, and showcase the power of nature. Don't underestimate the lasting impression of plants in shaping our cultural perceptions.


Plants have played a significant role in movies throughout history, adding depth and symbolism to storytelling. From flowers that represent emotions to forests that symbolize freedom or danger, plants have become powerful visual elements in the world of cinema. In this article, we will explore the significance of plants in movies and how they contribute to the overall cultural impact of films.

The Symbolism of Plants in Movies

Plants, particularly flowers, are often used in movies to convey symbolic meanings and evoke certain emotions. Just like in literature, where the language of flowers developed, filmmakers have embraced the power of plants to enhance storytelling. Let’s take a look at some notable examples:

“The Wizard of Oz” and the Poppies

In the classic film “The Wizard of Oz,” the Wicked Witch of the West uses poppies to put Dorothy and her companions to sleep. Poppies are symbolic of rest, sleep, and peace, highlighting the danger and magical nature of the story. Interestingly, poppies also gained symbolism in real life during World War I, when they became a symbol to honor fallen soldiers due to their resilience and ability to grow in devastated areas. This cultural significance adds another layer of meaning to the use of poppies in the film.

“American Beauty” and the Rose

In the movie “American Beauty,” roses appear throughout the film and carry different symbolic meanings. While roses are traditionally associated with passion and beauty, their interpretations in the movie are more complex. For Lester, the protagonist, the roses symbolize his lust and passion for Angela, a young girl next door. However, for Carolyn, Lester’s wife, the roses represent her desire for a perfect suburban life and the pursuit of perfection. These contrasting interpretations showcase the multifaceted nature of plants in movies and their ability to convey different emotions and themes.

“Memoirs of a Geisha” and the Cherry Blossoms

In the visually stunning film “Memoirs of a Geisha,” a memorable scene features a 32-foot cherry blossom tree. The cherry blossoms add color and elegance to the scenery, creating a sense of enchantment and beauty. The scene was filmed at the Japanese Garden at The Huntington in California, inspired by an authentic stroll garden in Kyoto. Cherry blossoms have a deep cultural significance in Japan, symbolizing the transient nature of life and the beauty of impermanence. By incorporating cherry blossoms into the film, the director not only created a visually captivating scene but also honored the cultural heritage associated with these flowers.

“Broken Flowers” and the Emotional State

In the movie “Broken Flowers,” different floral arrangements are used to reflect the emotional state of each character. The flowers symbolize various aspects, such as drought, lackluster love life, and a reflection of a dismal life. Through the flowers, the film conveys different emotions and sentiments, adding a layer of depth to the storytelling. This example highlights the versatility of plants in movies and their ability to amplify the emotional impact of a scene.

The Visual Impact of Plants in Movies

Apart from their symbolic significance, plants also contribute to the visual impact of movies. Directors carefully choose plants to create specific atmospheres and moods, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal of the film. Let’s explore some examples:

Enchanting Gardens in “The Great Gatsby”

In the movie adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” an abundance of cascading blooms and meticulously coordinated orchids showcase the extravagant and excessive nature of the scenes. The presence of lush gardens and vibrant flowers contributes to the visual representation of opulence and grandeur, reflecting the flamboyant lifestyle of the characters. These visually stunning gardens transport the audience into the world of the Roaring Twenties and immerse them in the decadence of the era.

Peaceful Zen Gardens in “When A Stranger Calls”

In the psychological thriller “When A Stranger Calls,” a Zen garden is featured as a contrast to the suspenseful and dangerous atmosphere of the house. The meticulously raked patterns and serene nature of the garden represent a false sense of peace and refuge, creating an ironic and tension-building effect. This example showcases the intentional use of plants to manipulate the audience’s emotions and enhance the storytelling.

Life in Barren Land in “Mad Max: Fury Road”

In the post-apocalyptic world portrayed in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” barren landscapes and dried-up plants emphasize the harshness and desolation of the environment. The absence of vibrant colors and lush vegetation creates a stark contrast, highlighting the struggle for survival and scarcity of resources. These visually striking scenes with minimal vegetation contribute to the overall atmosphere of the film and reinforce the dystopian setting.

The Cultural Impact of Plants in Movies

Plants in movies not only contribute to the visual and symbolic aspects but also have a broader cultural impact. They can shape societal perspectives, influence popular trends, and even inspire careers. Let’s delve into some examples:

Inspiring Careers: “Jurassic Park”

The movie “Jurassic Park” had a lasting impact on the author Dr. Lizz Waring, inspiring them to pursue a career as a botanist. In the film, the character of Dr. Ellie Sattler, a paleobotanist, uses her botanical knowledge to understand the ecosystem of a prehistoric park. Dr. Sattler’s character served as an inspiration for the author, showcasing the real-world applications of studying plants and how it can contribute to the understanding of the natural world. This example highlights the potential of movies to shape career choices and foster interest in different fields.

Environmental Awareness: “FernGully”

The animated film “FernGully” raises environmental awareness and emphasizes the importance of preserving rainforests. The vibrant and magical world of FernGully, filled with diverse plant life, depicts the beauty and richness of the rainforest ecosystem. Through its compelling storyline, the movie sparked discussions about deforestation and the impact of human activities on natural habitats. This cultural impact showcases how movies can create awareness and inspire action towards environmental conservation.

The Power of Nature: “The Martian”

In the science fiction film “The Martian,” the protagonist, Mark Watney, utilizes his knowledge of plants and soil science to survive on Mars. Watney grows potatoes as a means of sustenance, showcasing the power of plants in providing food and sustenance even in inhospitable environments. The movie highlights the resourcefulness and adaptability of plants and their vital role in supporting life. This example demonstrates how films can shed light on the importance of nature and encourage a deeper appreciation for the natural world.


Plants in movies hold significant cultural and symbolic value, adding depth and visual appeal to storytelling. Whether through their symbolic meanings, visual impact, or broader cultural influence, plants play a crucial role in shaping the narrative and evoking emotions in films. From classic movies like “The Wizard of Oz” to modern blockbusters like “The Martian,” plants have become integral components of the cinematic experience. As we continue to be captivated by the magic of movies, let us not underestimate the power of plants in shaping our cultural perceptions and leaving a lasting impression on our minds.


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