Why Do Characters Drink Milk in Movies

Drinks play an important role in movies. Why does James Bond drink his Martini shaken, and not stirred? Does it show complexity of the character or does it show status in relation to the other characters in the scene and movie? According to the above video, milk also plays a significant role in the portrayal of the character in the story, and can mean different things in context of the film. 

In "Catch Me If You Can" Leonardo di Caprio gets into the cockpit with the other two pilots but his age is given away due to his order of a glass of milk. 

In "Rebel Without a Cause" James Dean drinks milk from a bottle to show his conflict between his maturity and his youth. 

When discussing this with others, it became clear that there might be more to it than the video shows. It can be used for practical reasons too. Alfred Hitchcock could've used milk because he wanted to light up the drink in-hand to push up the contrast in the shot and milk diffused and hid the bulb the best in "Suspicion." 

Why they use milk in certain stories is an interesting argument. Does it show the innocence of the child, does it give contrast between the hitman's killing spree in The Professional, and his maternal side as he looks after Matilda in the film. The video sheds light on the thinking behind how certain props are used to communicate ideas from the storyteller's perspective. It's never confirmed or stated in any way. It's rather done in a subconscious level to enhance the story's objectives.

Being a photographer and videographer it's always good to know what the directors are using as tools. What props or strange uses of drinks and food have you seen used in film lately? And do you think this video is valid or is it taking a stance that with no research? Let us know in the comments. 

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7 Comments

Alex Cooke's picture

I personally disagree with some of the analysis.

The milk in "Suspicion" is a visual choice, because it stands in such stark contrast in the staircase scene. Hitchcock played with contrast of important objects all the time. It's also a play at Lina, who is dressed in all white, while Johnnie is kept in shadow. Mostly, however, it was a practical choice. Hitchcock lit the liquid, but water didn't project the light well and made it difficult to hide the bulb, whereas milk diffused the light more easily and hid the bulb well. It's the same sort of reason he used chocolate syrup in the shower scene of "Psycho."

The "devouring good" argument is weak (in my opinion) in "No Country for Old Men," because this analysis completely glosses over the fact that the sheriff comes in immediately after Chigurh and drinks it as well, and he himself is the manifestation of good. Rather, it serves as a practical device (the condensation on the bottle) and sets up the absurdity of the sheriff's sardonic line: "what'll we put out? Looking for a man who recently drank milk?," which is a microcosm of his entire existence: an aging man constantly outpaced by an unfathomable evil that he feels powerless to confront, i.e. no country for old men.

In "Inglourious Basterds," Landa is intentionally toying with Shoshanna, ordering her a glass of milk as a symbolic gesture that he knows she is the survivor of his massacre at the dairy farm. It's a cat toying with a mouse.

Well, in "Inglorious Basterds" you're not wrong and so is he.

Milk being a childish symbol is not disputable and the fact that he chugged it so fast then proceeded to attemp to kill Shoshana (a child) isn't a coincidence IMO. there is more than 1 ymbol there...

Or he's just a sadistic child in a grown man's body with power.

Your intelligent commentary salvaged what would otherwise be considered a "slow news day" article.

Geoffrey Badner's picture

How is Ron Burgundy not mentioned in this video?!?!

Kirk Darling's picture

So what is the significance of blue milk in Star Wars movies?

this is so badly written and without a point so far beyond belief it gave me cancer

Wouter du Toit's picture

Hey Fele, sorry to hear you weren't too happy with the article. The idea was to explain certain concepts mentioned in the video. If you can, what according to you, did I miss and how would you suggest I improve the piece?