SYMBOLISM! in movies: a whine


i’ve noticed on places like Reddit (NB, this isn’t a dig at DiS) that a lot of discussions around films centre around all the symbolism that people picked up on. it almost turns into a willy-waving competition sometimes where people are competing to see who can pick up on the most subtle, obscure reference or metaphor.

maybe it has always been so? or maybe it’s a recent trend. if it is i’m inclined to blame Breaking Bad and its ‘Walt’s jumper represents his inner conflict’ daftness.

now don’t get me wrong, symbolism and subtext is obviously great and enhances a movie - but call me simple-minded, things like plot, characterisation, tension, even (abandons indie points) action shouldn’t be playing second-fiddle to it.

TL;DR: stop being clever and just make good movies


There’s your problem.


I like it when fire represents hell



It’s always been so. Well, certainly since the expressionist films of the silent era, at least.

The great thing about films (or any form of art, really), is that the best ones can be read on numerous levels, if you wish.

Things like symbolism often work sub-consciously, so while you might think that plot, characterisation etc are the most important things, these themselves will often be enhanced by other methods that you’re not immediately aware of.


I can confirm that breaking bad did not invent symbolism.



As a former Media Studies student I have to confess I can sometimes be an insuffernable willy-waver when it comes to things like this.


if you study film studies or english literature you kind of have to get into this mode of analysis in order to get the grades (or you did in my day anyway)

doing it for fun on the internet is weird though

I love the Shining - but I found that documentary which analyses every frame of the movie for subtext etc unwatchable


no-one’s claiming it did, soft lad.




Room 237?

That’s not about analysing the film - it’s about the people that analyse the film!


I’m sure you’re right

I just found those people to be unwatchable


“No no, the continuity errors were done on purpose!”



One should reserve ones willy waving for pointing out other works of art that films reference.


I liked the bit when I went to see The Room at Prince Charles Cinema and Donnie picks up an apple takes a bite and someone at the back yelled SYMBOLISM really loudly.




Take it to the singles thread, pal


It is my third favourite heckle.


iceberg theory: