Life Imitates Art: Carpets and Rugs in Film and Life

From the fashion of Audrey Hepburn to John Travolta’s hair in Grease, countless films have impacted and changed the world. As Oscar Wilde opened in his essay The Decay of Lying, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” Whether you agree with this philosophy, it’s obvious that films create iconic fashion trends, among other things.


But what about furniture, carpet, or upholstery? Much like many objects in films, carpet and rugs play their role. Even in fictional stories, rugs can act as pivotal and even personified objects. Animated films including Aladdin allow carpets to play important characters to the plot. Whether they mark places of importance or are actual players in the story, rugs have their purpose in films.


Below, we’ll discuss five specific movies that feature iconic carpet or rugs. With each movie, we’ll address the significance of the carpet in its respective scene. We’ll also consider how these scenes comment on real-life interior design.


The Big Lebowski (1998)
This comedic rendering of an unemployed man mistaken for millionaire shows satire at its best. “The Dude” Lebowski receives quite a shock when two unidentified thugs urinate on his rug. Along with the unnecessary urination, the thugs threaten The Dude about paying a debt he owes.


Of course, they won’t accept “you’ve got the wrong man” story from The Dude, and his rug suffers as a result. The Dude then pursues a dangerous course to get reimbursed for the damages to his beloved rug.


As bowling buddy Walter puts it, “That rug really tied the room together, did it not?” This sarcastic line may be for comedy’s sake, but it references the modern application of beautiful area rugs. Rugs can make or break a room’s interior design.


Aladdin (1992)
We can’t talk about rugs in film without making mention of the fabled magic carpet. As Aladdin becomes more involved in a plot to obtain a magic lamp, he picks up an unlikely friend along the way. Audiences know little of the magic carpet’s past, but they receive plenty of comic relief and witty non-verbals throughout the film from this mystical rug.


While rugs may not fly yet, this film shows how they can represent a better, smarter side to people. Aladdin is a mere street-rat, or bottom-feeder. But instead of having nothing to his credit, he has his wit, his lamp, and a loyal friend that signifies true wealth. In the end, this matters more than every trick up the genie’s sleeve.


The Shining (1980)

Although this film doesn’t feature a particular rug, the Overlook Hotel’s hypnotic carpet isn’t easy to forget. Hotels and those in the hospitality business likely avoid similar designs in order to promote a safe feel within their buildings.


This film and its carpet may give you the creeps, but it teaches something important about carpet and design. Carpet and rugs are inanimate objects, but they certainly say a lot about a space and what you can expect from it.


The Pink Panther (1963)
As the first of many hilarious installments, this film is iconic from head to toe. The ridiculously overconfident inspector Clouseau falls into countless mishaps. All deter him from pitiful attempts to catch a much smarter jewel thief. Meanwhile, clever women play more than damsels in distress, including Princess Dahla.


One pivotal scene features the drunken princess lounging across a tiger rug. The rug in this scene portrays an animal magnetism, but also a vulnerability. The tiger was once a powerful hunter (or huntress), but is now reduced to room décor. As Princess Dahla seems quite vulnerable herself, the tiger rug works perfectly to convey this meaning.


The Money Pit (1986)
Walter Fielding, Jr. and his naïve wife embark on a fool’s errand when they purchase a sadly dilapidated house. Renovations and remodels abound, but it seems like nothing will polish this poor excuse for a home.


Amidst the chaos and struggle to create a suitable home, Walter Fielding has even more problems on his plate. He attempts to bribe someone, but gets in quite the fix after stepping into a hole in the floor.


The conveniently placed Persian rug signifies ideas of wasted finery. After all, no matter how nice the rug is, it does little for a room that’s far below the acceptable standard.


Lessons Learned About Carpets & Rugs

What do any of these films and their special carpet characters have to do with interior design? As we’ve explained, a beautiful rug enhances the look and feel of a room. When used correctly and cared for, rugs can even convey good things about their owners.


Most importantly, get a room to suit the rug and a rug to suit the room. Prolong the life of your valuable rugs with a professional carpet cleaning service in Mississauga, Toronto or the GTA.

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