March 20, 2013 at 10:24 am #95227
I don’t know if you are as interested in this topic as I am, but, as a student curious about filmmaking and movies, it’s sort of intriguing to find out what movies are really about. The idea is basically that there is a hidden message throughout the film, the story, and we have to be very clever to get it right, to catch the director’s intention and the writer’s intention.
For example, a friend of mine told me that ‘Jaws’ was about the fear of water. And that’s right. If you watch the movie you can see the main character wearing clothes in the beach while everyone is in swimsuit. This is not a coincidence. Coincidences in movies are insulting to the viewer’s mind.
I read somewhere a long time ago that ‘Alien’ was about the cancer. And, after watching the movie and analyzing this hypothesis, I agree. Is about killing the illness, killing the dark stranger, the monster that grows inside of us. I found this revelation fascinating because it gives movies a lot of power, the power to tell things. Same as ‘Black Swan’ is about the inevitable loss of innocence, ‘Thelma and Louise’ about finding sense to our lives…
You can share here if you want your impressions about what you think or believe that movies are really about.March 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm #95229
I also adore this topic and love talking about it. I’ll post some of my own analyses later.
SparkNotes has a great (and growing) collection of film alayses, all of which feature plot overviews, memorable quotes, analyses of major characters, themes/motifs/symbols, etc. for films. Right now the films they have covered are primarily older films that are considered classics, but as I mentioned, they have been doing a great job adding new films at a pretty decent pace. You can check them out here:March 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm #95230
Thank you very much for the information!!!!! Can’t wait to read your own analysis.March 20, 2013 at 4:45 pm #95231
While I do like to find the “hidden meaning” in movies, I think we should be very careful. Some movies simply don’t have any behind them. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That doesn’t mean their mindless, that means they’re going for one of the most honorable jobs in the world: making have a fun night.
This is harder than it sounds, since I don’t see a fun movie night as watching The Avengers or some other action movie/rom com.
And I think that this job of making purely entertaining movies is often devalued. Just look at Catch Me If You Can. That is always the movie I refer to when I think of great movies that have no “hidden meaning” or aren’t necessarily “groubreaking” or art. Because it’s just so well done. Performance wise, writing wise… That’s why people admire Spielberg so much. Sometimes he screws up big time (see, last 90 mins of Always). But when he does it well, he gives you the defenition of a fun movie night. And I think some people devalue that. Is there a hidden meaning in Catch me…? Probably not. But I’m sure you could dig deep into every shot of every single movie ever made including Plan 9 from Outer Space and find a deep message somewhere.
That being said, the best movies usually do contain hidden meanings. Some of them clearly say: there are hidden meanings have fun finding them (Apocalypse Now). Others don’t seem like they have hidden meanings at first glance. But they have this inviting whisper saying “go check it out one more time…” and when you do it might just surprise you… and an example of the latter case IMHO is Forrest Gump. I know most people don’t agree, but I think that movie’s about a hell of a lot more than a lot of people give it credit for. Because it’s fun and has a romance in it…
And just so I get my cinephile card back after the pro-gump tirade, another example of the latter is the Coen’s The Big Lebowski.March 21, 2013 at 4:27 am #95232
I am sorry but I don’t agree with you. Even “The Avengers” has a message behind their action scenes. Being a superheroe movie, I would not be surprised if the message is something related to overcoming a dissability or Vogler’s The Hero’s Journey.
“Forrest Gump” is about accepting the bad things that happen to us.April 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm #95233
New movies I saw:
-E.T.: Basically the Jesus Christ story.
-The Shinning: The destruction of the family.
-On Golden Pond: Letting the young ones decide by themselves.April 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm #95234
I think there is a difference between the message of a movie, which is more overt, and a “hidden meaning,” which to me implies something in the movie presented strategically (“hidden”) and meant to introduce or maybe reinforce particular themes. For example the placement of characters or props in a shot, the use of specific colors or dialogue, even music can all be utilized to serve particular themes and allow the audience to extract a deeper meaning from the story than one would probably get in a handful of viewings.
Using the above example, you could say the message of Forrest Gump is to accept the bad things that happen to us, or that “life is like a box of chocolates” or whatever. I doubt many people who’ve seen the movie would dispute that, but “hidden meanings” are much more open to interpretation. People will see what they want to see. The recent documentary “Room 237” looks at several superfans’ interpretations of “The Shining” – they have found “hidden meanings” in the movie that to the ordinary viewer would probably sound ridiculous, but they use the film as their evidence. I’ve not studied Forrest Gump enough to parse specific stylistic choices by the director/actors/producers, and I’m not sure there is much “hidden meaning” to the film in the first place.April 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm #95235
I don’t mean ‘hidden meaning’, I mean the IDEA of the movie. The idea has to be present in every scene. in ‘The Shining’, you don’t hear Shelley Duvall saying ‘You’re destructing my family’, but it’s in her face, in what she does, in how she pronounces her quotes, in the camera and the film editing, the sound…April 7, 2013 at 8:44 am #95236
Oh Shining its not only about the desctructio of a family. Its perhaps the deepest Kubrick film (in terms of hidden meaning). It doesnt even have only one meaning, there are some people who say it has around 3/4 different meanings.April 7, 2013 at 8:50 am #95237
I don’t mean ‘hidden meaning’, I mean the IDEA of the movie. The idea has to be present in every scene. in ‘The Shining’, you don’t hear Shelley Duvall saying ‘You’re destructing my family’, but it’s in her face, in what she does, in how she pronounces her quotes, in the camera and the film editing, the sound…
Gotcha. Well in that case I agree that every movie is about something. Some movies are not carefully constructed and made, but they are still about something. The answer might be as shallow as the whatever the plot of the movie is. People often say Seinfeld was a television show about nothing, but IMO that’s still something. That is, it says something about these characters and their lives that a show about them is often equated to a show about nothing.April 8, 2013 at 7:31 am #95239
A movie is about its writer’s heart, its director’s deepest fantasies, and an audience’s own self-projections.April 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm #95241
Strangers on A Train, definitely. The movie has a strong homosexual subtext and makes use of the overbearing mother trope. When I was watching it, I thought it was very strange considering it’s an old thriller. But, in the first scenes, you will notice the first shots are almost like the beginning of a romantic comedy. I read about it and some people argue the movie’s about power relations.April 28, 2013 at 8:33 am #95242
not exactly what I proposed here, but interesting opinions