Allegory In Movies

What is an Allegory?                                           

                 An allegory is something used in literature, and art to signify a meaning that is not literal. As an artistic device, an allegory is a visual symbolic representation. An example of a simple visual allegory is the image of the grim reaper. Viewers understand that the image of the grim reaper is a symbolic representation of death.

                                                     Superman, Spiderman, and Batman, for example, are all allegorical representations of the everyman. The evils they fight are the temptations to greed, to violence and to behavior that will disrupt the society.Superheroes stand as both the 'everyman' and the guardian against evil. 

Examples of Allegory in Movies:

Fight Club (1999) Directed by David Fincher :
 Plot : An office employee and a soap salesman build a global organization to help vent male aggression.
                           Beyond the explicit violence and dark comedy, the movie is about everything from consumerism to the contemporary perception of society's belief and values.These days Fight club has finally received the recognition it deserves as an intelligent movie.

Memorable Quote:

“Materialism is dangerous. It doesn't take long before the stuff that you own starts owning you.”

Avatar(2009) Directed by James Cameron :  The  attack on the Na'vi  people in avatar  makes a perfect allegory to the real history of the oppression on Native Americans or colonial Africans or the Indochinese or the entirety of the World at the hands of the English , Spanish, and Portugese, in the name of the resources.

District 9 Directed by Neil Blomkamp 
 Plot: An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology. 

                             Many audiences unfamiliar with South African history may not have caught the Apartheid metaphor at the first time.Science-fiction lends itself nicely to commenting on soundly real issues, and this wonderful film uses aliens as a stand-in for the minorities forced into ghettos during European rule.

 Shawshank Redemption Directed by Frank Darabont:  
                                       The Shawshank Redemption is an allegory to maintain one’s sense of self worth when placed in a hopeless situation. The entire premise of a prison theme is a metaphor.    Most of us, obey the institution then depend on it, scared to change our life-style. The human society is developing in institutionalized environment. However, we can choose redemption if we want. As Andy’s choosing, nothing can carry our right to choose redemption off even it’s so huge like the Shawshank prison.Hero or the general public, all of these are in our hearts.

Memorable Quotes: 
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

                                               These are just some few examples of allegories in movies. Allegory are represented in old literature, folk tales and in many forms of art. For people who enjoy the cinematic arts, movies can shed light on cultural and universal truths through the use of allegory.
All good art is about something deeper than it admits.                                 


Shareef S M A said...

Superb analysis..

Bad Horse said...

You should distinguish between allegory, symbolism, and generality. Shawkshank redemption is not an allegory and not even symbolic; it is general--it presents a specific example of a general pattern. Symbolism, by contrast, presents a particular pattern from the real world mapped onto the world differently. Allegory is systematic symbolism.

Allegory is always bad and lazy art. A story is told allegorically only in order to avoid having to tell it honestly. One can leave out all of the aspects that don't conform to one's ideology when speaking in allegory. That is why allegory was the mode used in the Middle Ages, and why it is popular today in movies rooted in Marxist or post-modern philosophies, which both rely on creating an insular, fact-free echo chamber.