What’s the Importance of Allusions in Film?
Allusions represent either implied or direct references to something that become general discussion or which are delivered through text in a film. You might see a character wearing a t-shirt that alludes to another television show from the past or perhaps you’ll see a brief clip in which a character alludes to a historic event that is being recreated in the story. Allusions come up quite frequently in film, but what’s the importance of allusions in film and why are they used?
What are Allusions?
Allusions are implied or indirect a general references to something that will show up in text or via general discussion in a film.
Many allusions have brought profound meaning and created amazing connections with the storyline of some of the most watched films of our time.
Whenever an allusion is incorporated into a story, those familiar with the background will certainly understand and relate. But why are allusions in film so powerful?
Allusions can add layers to a film creating depth and greater meaning within the story. In fact, the use of an allusion can almost add another language, a hidden element if you will.
Writers use allusions in filmmaking for a number of different purposes depending on the film, the audience, and the underlying goals of the writing.
- Create connections and help to establish meaning within a story more quickly.
- Showcase a source of inspiration that the writer is thankful for.
- Establishes stronger context within the story.
- Helps viewers to stay engaged longer by giving them something to “do” and figure out.
- Create thematic resonance with other works by the filmmaker.
As you can see, the importance of allusions in film are plentiful. As they really do have a lot of potentially useful options for the screenwriter.
Examples of Allusions from Past Films
Still not fully understanding what allusions in film are and how they are important or why they are so important?
Let’s talk about the importance of allusions in film from another standpoint.
Many refer to allusions as “Easter Eggs” because they are likely little bits of hidden references found within a film.
Which are actually very clear once you see them but can sometimes be difficult to spot.
Allusions are important because they add a unique touch of culture and artistic honor to a film. Allusions can be used to reference different contexts.
And may have many different purposes or meanings in the films that you watch. They’re important because they create context within the story!
But more so, some argue that everything in a story is an allusion. Technically.
Check out these allusions from past films you might recall:
- Clueless the 1995 film, it’s one long allusion to the novel Emma.
- The Shining this film has a scene in which the word REDRUM is posted on the door, alluding to murder in the hotel.
- Blade Runner 2049 Alludes to the original Blade Runner when the “Replicant” Agent K is dying on steps outside a memory lab.
- Lemony Snicket alludes to “Briny Beach” which is a name which comes from the poem by Lewis Carroll called ”The Walrus and the Carpenter.”
…And many more!
There are really just so many different allusions in films that we enjoy.
But what if we told you that the importance of allusions in film is not so much about whether or not allusions were used…But how allusions even come up?
Is Everything an Allusion?
Some argue that everything is an allusion, and in some ways, it’s easy to see why. Think of any film, story, poem, song. It doesn’t matter really. Any creative work.
Where does the idea for a film come from? And where does the idea for a song come from? Where does the idea for a story come from?
If you said “life experiences” or “inspiration” or “past events” or “history” or…the list really goes on and on. But there is one thing that is somewhat common.
That’s the fact that we draw inspiration from the situations and elements that apply to our real everyday lives.
Everywhere You Go
Thus, if you watch any movie, you will almost certainly draw out several allusions from the film. You might even find allusions that the filmmaker didn’t technically add into the film.
Or at least not on purpose. This is because, in some way, allusions are everywhere! And they are a huge part of every story or film or song that is created.
For example, a film has a certain plot, setting, characters, character names, etc. The ideas for all of this come from somewhere.
There might be a character who’s name is a mix of two or more names that you’ve heard before or two or more famous places.
The setting might take place in a town that is full of busy people or lazy people. Perhaps it’s like a town you’ve been to before?
No Absence of Allusions
As you continue to look for allusions in the films you watch, you’re almost guaranteed to find a TON.
The importance of allusions in films is really beyond just the fact that the screenwriter, director or others involved in the film can allude to past historical events, past characters, influencers, or other areas of life.
But it’s also possible that these inspirational elements of a film were not meant to be allusions by the original screenwriter.
We see name allusions, character allusions, setting and plot allusions and a variety of other allusions in film all the time.
The importance allusions in film is that they have the power to create deeper connections, stronger reasoning among audiences, and they can help to build thematic reasoning for the audience.
With so many great ways for allusions to help establish meaning, complexity, and dexterity to your story, why wouldn’t you want to incorporate more allusions into your film?
The importance of allusions in film is definitely about making connections between audience and the story itself to build stronger bonds among those who watch motion pictures that you create – and it works!