Heidegger, Plato's cave allegory and Cinema

Heidegger, Plato’s cave allegory and Cinema

I suppose I’ve always had it. The uncanny feeling that something isn’t quite right. In childhood it was quite strong, spend a lot of time looking for hidden passageways and doors. Openings and wormholes into different dimensions. It has (naturally) gradually faded since childhood, otherwise i would have to take medicine, but sometimes i still let myself slip into the idea, and indulge myself with the notion that its there. The other world. The real world.

Lately I’ve been trying to find meaning within Martin Heidegger’s The Essence of Truth, on Plato’s cave allegory and Theaetus, his 1988 commentary and analysis on the cave allegory and the unhidden. He talks about how one cannot exist outside a context, one can only respond to ones surroundings, and it is only in the realization of the choice that one truly relfects on ones own existence. Its heavy and its dense, and its taking me a lot longer than i thought to understand and digest the words. Last year I was more interested in sociology and wrote about Antony Giddens and Lyotard’s idea of postmodernism in my essay, but this year I’ve wanted to move on to something more abstract. The fact that the people in the cave do not even wish to be confronted with the real when it is right in front of them and had become unhidden is the most interesting part of the story to me.


I wish I had a mentor, or a group with whom i could discuss and try and weight the words to make sense of them, Im also reading an introduction to Jacques Derrida at the moment, who didn’t even believe in the written word, and who thought something was only important if it was spoken out loud, so the fact that I don’t speak to anyone about this is quite ironic. Ive for long wanted to work with Plato’s cave allegory, even before i’d even read it – almost all my favourite movies has an element of the cave allegory within them. Obvious ones such as The Matrix (1999) and the Truman Show (1998) are widely known to examine this allegory. Both movies deals with questions or reality, fiction, the border in betweeen. In the Truman Show Truman is at the end faced with what Plato would call “The Liberation”, Truman decides to leave the island on which he is born, and unlike the people in schackles he accepts that his whole life has been a virtual one, and chooses to accept reality as the unhidden.

Animation of Plato’s cave allegory, 1973, made by Dick Oden, narrated by Orson Welles

End scene from The Truman Show, 1998, directed by Peter Weir

“The liberation scene” from The Matrix, 1999, directed by Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski