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Why is there a red carpet at film festivals?

Posted September. 12, 2020 07:21,   

Updated September. 12, 2020 07:21


Almost every part of the highest French order of merit Legion of Honour from ribbon to embroidery is red. There is also a belief that red wine and red meat are more energizing than white wine and white meat. A red sports car looks like it could drive faster. However, the color red can look a little tacky in the 21st century where minimalism and achromatic colors are preval‎ent.

“Red: The History of a Color” is a book about the bold and authoritative color red. Red went through a lot of ups and downs from ancient Rome to 18th-century Western Europe. This is why the writer of the book who is an expert in the medieval heraldry published the new book about red, following his books about the history of blue, black, and green.

Red is the first man-made color. Bisons depicted in the Altamira cave paintings estimated to have been created around 15,000 B.C. to 13,500 B.C. were colored in red. In Latin, the word “red” has the meaning of “being colored” while a language only has three words for colors – white, black, and red. The status of the color red that was the most primitive and superior in the ancient and medieval times, however, fell significantly nearing the end of the Middle Ages. Blue started to be recognized as an aristocratic color and black became synonymous with luxury and elegance. Moreover, red was stigmatized as immoral and decadent since the Reformation and its status started to decline from the end of the 16th century.

However, red is still used to grab attention. Signs indicating sales or promotions are often written in red, and the red label refers to higher quality products. A red lipstick signifies provocative seduction and laying a red carpet to greet important guests is an unchanged practice.

As the book analyzes the meaning of red in a social context beyond the conceptual definition and the list of what it symbolizes, readers will feel as if they look into history through a lens of the color. However, they may keep in mind that such history is limited to Europe, not the entire world.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com