10 Amazing Allegory in Films

Though critics rarely agree that allegorical depiction could happen best through movies, some films have also been declared allegorical with ulterior motives of the writers/directors to depict some situations on the cinema screen. It is because they think that the big screen could be the best source of disseminating discursive messages.

1984 (Michael Radford, 1985)

This film is an adaptation of the popular Orwellian fictional story of 1984, a popular novel. Based on the state of Big Brother has a holistic surveillance system, this dystopian movie shows the totalitarian regime in full play. Winston Smith, the main character, rebels against this surveillance and systematic restrictions on freedom when he contacts and joins hands with his co-worker, Julia, who also rebels against the Thought Police and both try to break the restrictive regime and its limitations on individual freedom. Despite their rehabilitative punishments through the Ministry of Love, the issues linger within the regime including that of the impending war. The movie ends with Winston showing love to Big Brother, making the audience think about him, his status in the regime, and Big Brother. The book was written with a futuristic view which most readers believe is happening currently with modern technology, extensive surveillance, digital currency, and advanced social media.

Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)

Demonstrating the making of this movie reminds a reading for students in Australia which presents a dystopia where man and machine are pitted against each other. Maria and Freder take class segregation seriously and struggle to remove alienation creeping between them. As the son of the city master, Freder belongs to the upper class and comes in contact with Maria from the downtrodden of the city. The ensuing illicit relationship between the duo becomes the main story of the movie. The over-indulgence of society into machines and class segregation becomes the mainstay of the story until the end. This allegory in the movie has been depicted through their story.

Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999)

Based on the novel of Chuck Palahniuk of the same title, this movie presents the story of an insomniac who is suffering from furniture mania and the commodification of life. When he meets Tyler, he befriends him and joins the club life to make his life easy and depression-free. Although they both are on a long shopping spree, they find it very difficult to lead this life of absurdity. Tyler Durden later joins Project Anarchy to end market-ism from the United States. Different characters show an allegorical representation of the people of America such as Bob, the narrator of the movie, and Marla. This representation shows the success of the movie.

Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)

Based on the story of a girl, Chihiro, the girls’ parents face the dilemma after they are transformed into animals. The dark reality presented in the film is about the dark side of the sex industry in Japan. After the transformation of her parents, Chihiro is taken to a brothel to work as a sex slave where the mistress of the house, Yubaba changes her name and declares her a contractual property. Although she is not a sex slave, a No-face type of rich character often offers a huge sum of money. Though her end is the recovery of her status, the allegorical meanings of this rehabilitation and rediscovery are obvious.

A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)

This movie is an adaptation of the novel of Anthony Burgess. The story is of a teenager living in a dystopian world having ambiguous laws and rules. Named Alex, he often resorts to violence when rules are unclear, showing how youths resort to violence in voids. The viewers and audiences feel shocked at his behavior with Beethoven whom he makes a subject of his physical and sexual violence. Although he is arrested and thrown behind the bars, his release leads him to join the Ludovico Technique used for rehabilitation. In the end, the government intervenes to present a seemingly good situation prevalent in the society but the allegorical meanings of the story as a dystopia present in the movie linger in the minds of the audiences for a long time.

Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)

The story is a sequel to alien-related movies. Here, Cameron shows Ellen Ripley taking Marines led by Hicks to capture an alien colony. Although it seems that the story revolves around the capture of this colony of aliens that are acting strangely against human norms. It is because they are hidden, stealthy, and horrible creatures, taking on the Marines from different corners. As they pose no threat to the Marines taking on them, Cameron meant to present an allegorical picture of the Vietnam attack that the US Marines launched during the war. The picturization of the communist or anti-imperialists being taken on by the Marines show the allegorical nature of the storyline.

The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

Set in the Swedish background, The Seventh Seal presents the story of a medieval knight, Antonius Block after he comes back from the Crusades to find that the plague is taking a toll on his country. He faces Death in the game and continues playing with it, knowing that when the game is over, Death will take his life. In-between the passing of Jesus as a child and the fiasco of painting in the church move the story forward but by the end, Death asserts that no one escapes him. Finally, the family of Jof sees the knight and his friends being led to the hillside. The movie presents the allegory of Death, and its allegorical meanings resonate throughout the film.

Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2013)

The story starts in Toronto with the college professor Adam Bell, who rents a movie and finds an actor in the movie as his doppelganger. He tries to find him online as Anthony Claire and becomes his silent fan. He also tries his other movies and reaches out to him until he talks to his wife who also mistakes him for Anthony. The professor faces the wrath of his wife, Helen, who reaches out to his college, thinking him a stalker. This game continues until the end when finds himself in a room with a tarantula and not Helen. The background of the movie shows the presentation of dictatorship and allegorical presentation of Adam and Anthony’s story.

The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)

As an allegory of Scientology, this movie presents the Master, a charismatic leader, and his wife, who manipulates circumstances for him. Freddie Quell, a WWII veteran becomes their first victim who joins the Cause. He joins Dodd and his family to work for their dogma. He works for them until in the end he leaves and joins a woman at a pub where he questions the Procession session that has changed his life. The allegorical meanings of the cult, the dogma, and the working of Freddie for the Cause become clear in the end.

District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)

The movie presents the arrival of a spaceship from some other planet to the earth, landing near Johannesburg with aliens in it. The South African government, after finding them, relocates the sick aliens into a camp. The aliens soon take over the camp, turning it into a slum where they try to consume human resources. The ensuing unrest and MNU’s entry to quell the rebellion leads Johnson, a young alien refugee, to take the leadership of the aliens into his hands. The movie takes the story to the end by leaving a question of the alien whether they would leave or start a war. The allegory of humanity and the arrival of the alien creature on the earth is obvious.