Student Model: Lindsey Willis



In such scenes as “Laura and Sophia” and “American Nightmare,” Spike Lee makes use of a specific color scheme—red, white, and blue—to highlight white America’s refusal to allow black people to share the American dream.


Body paragraph:

Lee draws a clear distinction between the colors in the early scenes before Malcolm’s conversion and the absence of vivid colors in the later scenes. The film opens with sepia tones, which allow the red and white of the Coca-cola sign and the Woolworth sign to stand out. These colorful icons representing the American dream contrast a life that Malcolm is not privileged to enjoy. As the scene “Laura and Sophia” comes into play, it noticeably shows how Laura and Malcolm are dressed in red, white, and blue. Wanting to buy into the idea of living the American dream, the straight-haired Malcolm leads Laura around the dance floor as though life were easy and carefree. However, that illusion is shattered as a white woman, Sophia, lustfully motions for Malcolm to approach her. Sophia is dressed in blue with bright red nails and lips, the whitest skin and blonde hair, representing the colors of the American flag. Malcolm and Sophia have sex in a white car with red seats and Sophia wearing a blue sweater. He fools around with Sophia because he feels that if he plays a role with white people, he will fit into society better. The scantily-clad Sophia represents the lure of white American society that turns out to be a “whore.” Trying to have a piece of the American life earns Malcolm time in jail, not for the burglary he committed, but for being with a white woman. Instead of America offering opportunity to Malcolm, it punishes him for participating in its white society.