15 Movies With Deeper, Hidden Meanings

There Will Be Blood featured

Look a bit closer, and you will see it. Any serious moviegoer or book reader understands the power of allusion and allegory in their texts. A recent online film-loving post shares Internet users' suggestions for movies with hidden meanings.

1. The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

The Banshees of Inisherin e1695836037772
Image Credit: Searchlight Pictures.

2022's much-lauded Martin McDonagh film is about two Irish friends suffering a compatibility crisis. However, the original poster feels a deeper reading shows how the conflict between the two characters is representative of a nation of people fighting each other and in turn hurting themselves in the process: an allegory for the Irish Civil War.

2. District 9 (2009)

District 9
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Neil Bloomkamp's remarkable debut feature film depicts a South Africa overrun by an alien race, which is then subjugated and quarantined to protect the local human population. As most viewers agree, the film is an allegory about South Africa's Apartheid regime. However, another viewer says the film is more about contemporary South African attitudes to immigration from neighbouring countries. 

3. Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar Mackenzie Foy, Matthew McConaughey
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Interstellar's reference to the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of the '30s is obvious, although only a few viewers know that much of the black-and-white footage of dust storms was taken in real life. Any film that ponders the idea of leaving our blighted planet for a new one has a thinly veiled allegorical purpose.

4. Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Brooke Adams
Image Credit: United Artists.

This famous 1956 sci-fi horror flick was a statement about the dangers of ignoring Communism. The slow but noticeable shifts from worry to rebellion to hopelessness were done well. 1958's The Blob was in the same hidden-in-plain-sight allegory ballpark as its predecessor. 

5. 1984 (1984)

Image Credit: Virgin Films.

Of course, the book is famous for depicting a ruthless, warmongering, dystopian society, but how did Orwell get the future so right? Almost every feature he includes in the story has come true — Big Brother and CCTV are both ingrained in modern life. Can we please stop making dystopian sci-fi films? I'm not one for tinfoil-hat conspiracies, but whoever founded Boston Dynamics must have been inspired by Fahrenheit 451‘s robot dog.

6. Lord of the Flies (1963)

Lord of the Flies
Image Credit: British Lion Film Corporation.

William Golding's excellent book (and the film inspired by said book) is about a group of schoolboys forced to fend for themselves after crash landing on a tropical island during a fictionalized post-nuclear World War Three scenario. The 1963 version captures the book's terror: as the group's brutal hierarchies start to form, the story sends a message about the inevitable decline in society that follows a deterioration of law and order.

7. Barton Fink (1991)

Barton Fink Judy Davis, John Turturro
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

When the Coen Brothers started writing the epic Miller's Crossing, they hit a dark patch of writer's block. The result was Barton Fink, a movie about writer's block written by screenwriters with writer's block. However, the allegory comes with the realistic treatment of Hollywood's hedonistic, throwaway ethos. 

8. There Will Be Blood (2007)

Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
Image Credit: Miramax Films.

One of my favorite movies stars one of my favorite actors, Daniel Day-Lewis, as Henry Plainview, a Californian oil prospector-turned-baron. The movie is loosely based on the 1926 novel Oil!, an allegory about rampant capitalism's pitfalls during the Roaring '20s. However, Paul Thomas Anderson's treatment carries a further dichotomy between good and evil, represented by religion and greed. Henry Plainview's conflict ultimately sees him forsake his love for power.

9. Under The Skin (2013)

Under the Skin Scarlett Johansson
Image Credit: A24.

Jonathan Glazer became recognized following a dazzling advertising and music video career. However, more than a decade after he became a household name, he released Under the Skin, a gritty horror about an alien posing as a beautiful human to lure men into a trap. One observer feels this movie's deeper meaning regards the buying and selling of love. 

10. Walkabout (1971)

Walkabout Jenny Agutter
Image Credit: =20th Century Fox.

After a white Australian father loses his mind in the desert, destroying the family car and shooting himself, his two kids are left to fend for themselves in the great Australian Outback. It takes a local Aboriginal to save them, and what follows is a slow-moving statement on humans' relationship with nature, indigenous culture, and, according to one studied film fan, “recapturing the innocence of Eden.”

11. Being There (1979)

Being There Fran Brill, David Clennon
Image Credit: United Artists.

The late director Hal Ashby appears in Peter Biskind's best-selling biography about the rise of the new Hollywood auteurs, Easy Riders and Raging Bulls (1998). Ashby makes it onto such a high pantheon because of his brilliant dark comedy, Being There, starring Peter Sellers as a low-intelligence gardener who accidentally works his way up to being a presidential advisor. 

12. Barbarella (1968) 

Barbarella Jane Fonda
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Barbarella is a satire on the romantic revolution of the '60s and light criticism of “bourgeois morality.” Jane Fonda became a real icon for the women's rights movement of the same decade, and she still fights the corner for oppressed ladies everywhere.

13. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Slumdog Millionaire Dev Patel
Image Credit: Pathé Distribution.

Danny Boyle's epic testament to the spirit of survival is a commentary on India's caste system and the hundreds of millions of “untouchables” living in daily squalor. The theme of societal inequality is clear, especially when the game show host does everything he can to ensure the competitor can't win the jackpot. Moreover, the slums of Slumdog Millionaire are as much member of the cast as the film's characters. 

14. Planet of the Apes (1968- Present)

Planet of the Apes Kim Hunter, Roddy McDowall, Lou Wagner
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The modernized prequel trilogy did its best to upstage the original cult movie series, with many fans claiming it is superior. Where the original film was a commentary on racial conflict and the Civil Rights movement, the Caesar trilogy can be viewed as a nod to the book of Exodus, with Caesar following Moses' path of leading his followers to the Promised Land.

15. Platoon (1986)

Image Credit: Orion Pictures.

If there is a better allegory for good vs. evil in a war movie, I have yet to see one as powerful as Platoon. Oliver Stone's groundbreaking Vietnam War film depicts the brutality of war, pitching two Sergeants (Willem Dafoe's Sgt. Elias and Tom Beringer's Sgt. Barnes) against each other. Moreover, the Biblical reference is strong: Barnes is the Devil to Elias's Jesus, with Elias even suffering a ‘crucifixion' as he is mowed down by a volley of bullets.

Source: (Reddit)

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Raised in England and with a career background in international education, Ben now lives in Southern Spain with his wife and son, having lived on three continents, including Africa, Asia, and North America. He has worked diverse jobs ranging from traveling film projectionist to landscape gardener.

He offers a unique, well-traveled perspective on life, with several specialties related to his travels. Ben loves writing about food, music, parenting, education, culture, and film, among many other topics. His passion is Gen-X geekery, namely movies, music, and television.

He has spent the last few years building his writing portfolio, starting as a short fiction author for a Hong Kong publisher, then moving into freelance articles and features, with bylines for various online publications, such as Wealth of Geeks, Fansided, and Detour Magazine.