Friday Fundas: Use of Metaphor in Movies

Use of Metaphor in Movies

Use of metaphors is very well known form or technique used in performing arts like poetry, novels, short stories, plays and motion pictures. Metaphors usually help in connecting the audience to the art very effectively. This week’s Friday Fundas takes a look at the use of metaphors in movies with some examples from famous movies.

Metaphors involve in using any item, living being or a situation that is very similar to the current context or situation. Movies being a visual medium there are more opportunities in how a metaphor is being handled. Some of the metaphors in the movies are very direct and short lived for a particular instance. For example rough waves in the sea or trees bending in heavy thunder storm are used as a metaphor for depicting the emotional situation of a character. Director K. Balachander has been one of the directors who used very unique metaphors throughout his movies. Some of the metaphors would demand some intellectual viewing as well. In his Tamil movie Thamarai Nenjam the protagonist falls off from the balcony. Avoiding the sequences of showing the character suffering in pain or someone attending to the character; a plantain tree is shown with a stick tied in support to a broken leaf. Many of the south Indian households and their neighborhood have plantain trees and this visual immediately relates to the person who has fallen has broken his limbs and a cast has been applied. The next scene shows the person lying on the bed with the cast.

There is other kind of metaphors used in movies which are prolonged throughout the movie. Different characters interact with it differently at various points of time and it emphasizes itself as the movie progresses. This is a very popular technique used by screenwriters to create an additional layer to the script. Let us look some of the examples here.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

In the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara fear of adventure sports is used as a metaphor for the internal fear each of the three characters have in their life regarding wealth, relationship and commitment. As each one of them overcomes their fear in the adventure sport they also overcome their internal fear in life.

Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine

In the movie Little Miss Sunshine the mini-van and its state represents the state of the family. The van is dysfunctional and the family members have to keep pushing it to get it started. This represents the dysfunctional state of the family and their bonding. Even at the end of the movie from a top angle shot you see the van going in a zigzag fashion on a straight road. This depicts that the state of the family has not changed still but they still travel together in the journey of life.

Next time when you watch a movie look out for the use of metaphors. If you can recollect some metaphors you had enjoyed watching in a movie add it to the comment section.

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