Clever Usage of Symbolism in Movies

Symbolism is a word, sign, mark, etc that signifies or represents another thing. Here are some examples of symbolism in movies.

Hitchcock used spirals in Vertigo as a symbol of dizziness that is a result of the condition.

Symbolism in movies- vertigo
Symbolism in movies

The letter “X” foreshadows almost every death in the Departed.

Symbolism in movies, the departed

Circularity in Arrival symbolises the non-linear plot of the film and the idea of timelessness.

Symbolism in movies, arrival

Whenever an orange appears on the Godfather, someone either dies or talks about death.

Symbolism in movies, godfather

In 12 Angry Men, the heat symbolizes the pressure on the Juror 8, and the change of weather symbolizes his final decision.

In the movie, on of the jurors slowly changes the decision of the others in a murder trial. When the situation is 6/6, they complain about the heat in the room. They can only turn the fan on when it starts raining. Then the Juror 8 decides that the boy is not guilty which makes the vote 7/5. So, the change of weather symbolises the relief in him.

The 12 angry men
12 angry men

The fruit symbolism in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective foreshadows the true gender of Einhorn.

Lieutenant Lois Eisenhover is the headquarter of the Miami Police Department, and she keeps mocking detective Ventura whose job is to find losts animals. In the movie, he is looking for the Miami Dolphin’s mascot, a dolphin named Snowflake. After a few wrong suspects, he starts pursuing a guy named Finkle. In the meanwhile, Einhorn invites Ventura to her office and compliments him to dissuade him from the case. Later, Ventura finds that Finkle disguises as Einhorn who is actually a missing hiker.

Ace Ventura symbolism

Color Symbolizm of Luke Skywalker’s clothes in Star Wars

Throughout the Return of the Jedi, Luke wears black as a smbol of the possibility that he might choose the darks side. However, after he rejects the dark side when he faces the Emperor, his jacket falls and reveals a white clothe underneath.

Symbolism in movies, star wars

In Dune, the stuffed bull head foreshadows the Gom Jabbar test.

Gom Jabbar test takes its name from the needle with meta-cyanide poison on tip of. The purpose of this test is to see whether the person has the instincts of a human or an animal. In the scene, Paul Atreides, the main character, goes into a room where he will be tested. He is supposed to put his hand into a box which gives the feeling that his hand is burning alive. If he pulls his hand, it means that he has an anial instinct and the Bene-gesserit kills him with the needle. If he does not (which is the case in the movie), he passes the test. Before this scene, however, the camera shows a stuffed bull’s head hanging over the door. This shot foreshadows the vital test.

Dune symbolism

There is also music as a tool of symbolism in almost every movie. Here is a video showing the power of music.

Masks with no eyes in Snowpiercer

In the movie, the revolutionaries confronts men with masks that only has a hole for mouth. This no eye situation symbolizes bot physical and ethical blindness. They blindly follow Wilford’s (the oppressive figure in the train) orders.

Snowpiercer, masked men