What Does the Movie Us Symbolize: Decoding the Hidden Meanings and Themes

It’s undeniable that Jordan Peele’s 2019 horror movie “Us” sparked a great deal of interest and debate among moviegoers. But beyond its shock value and suspenseful storytelling, “Us” holds a deeper meaning that goes beyond its surface level plot. The movie tells the story of a family on vacation who becomes terrorized by their own doppelgangers. But what does “Us” really symbolize? In this article, we’ll dive into the hidden messages and symbols that make this movie more than just your average horror flick.

One of the most significant symbols in “Us” is the concept of duality or the idea that every person has a dark side that they keep hidden from the world. The doppelgangers in the film represent this darker version of ourselves that we may not even realize exists within us. By facing the darkness within ourselves, we can then overcome it and become better versions of ourselves. Peele expertly uses this symbol to show how our own worst enemy is often ourselves.

Another key symbol in the movie is the use of the number 11:11. The recurring appearance of this number represents a sort of doorway or a portal between the two worlds – the world of light and the world of darkness. Peele uses this symbol to illustrate how our lives can change in an instant, and how we must always be prepared to face the unexpected, no matter how safe and secure our lives may seem. Overall, “Us” is a masterful piece of horror cinema that not only entertains but also challenges us to confront our own fears and darkness that lie within.

Duality of human nature

In the movie Us, director Jordan Peele explores the concept of duality of human nature, which refers to the idea that every person has both good and evil within them. This idea is represented by the two sets of characters in the movie: the Wilson family and their doppelgangers, the Tethered.

The Wilson family, who are the main characters in the movie, represent the good side of human nature. They are a happy family who love each other and want the best for each other. On the other hand, the Tethered represent the darker side of human nature. They are the doppelgangers of the Wilsons, but they are twisted and evil versions of them. They are a reminder that every person has a dark side that can take over if it is not kept in check.

  • The Wilson family represents the good side of human nature.
  • The Tethered represent the dark side of human nature.

The duality of human nature is also represented by the way that the Tethered are connected to the Wilsons. They are not separate entities, but rather they are connected by a commonality. This connection represents the fact that every person’s good and evil sides are connected to each other. They cannot be separated, but they can be balanced.

Ultimately, the duality of human nature is a reminder that every person has the potential for both good and evil within them. It is up to each individual to choose which side they will let take over. The movie Us serves as a warning that if we do not keep our darker side in check, it can take over and consume us.

Fears and Anxieties

In Jordan Peele’s movie, Us, there are several fears and anxieties addressed that are relevant to our society and culture.

  • Fear of the Other: The doppelgängers, or the “shadows”, in the movie represent our fear of the “other”. The shadows are seen as our worst versions of ourselves, the ones we hide and don’t want anyone to see. We fear what’s unknown and different, and the shadows represent a manifestation of that fear.
  • Anxiety around Identity: The movie also delves into the anxiety around identity. The main character, Adelaide, struggles with her identity and has always felt like she doesn’t belong. The shadows also represent a different identity, one that is not accepted by society. This fear and anxiety around identity is something that many individuals face in their lives.
  • Fear of Losing Control: Another fear addressed in the movie is the fear of losing control. The shadows represent a lack of control, a version of ourselves that we cannot control or suppress. The idea of not being in control of our lives is a fear that is universal, and the movie brings this to light in a unique way.

The Symbolism of the Hands Across America Event

One of the main symbols in Us is the Hands Across America event, which takes place in the movie. In 1986, Hands Across America was an actual event where people held hands across the country to raise money for charity. In the movie, the event is used as a symbol for unity, but it also represents a false sense of unity.

The Hands Across America event was supposed to represent the uniting of people across the country, but in reality, it highlighted the differences between people. The event was criticized for ignoring the economic and racial disparities that existed between communities. In the movie, the shadows holding hands across the country represents a false sense of unity, as they are not truly united. The event is a commentary on how society often ignores the underlying issues that exist between communities, and how the desire for unity can often be misguided.

Overall, the fears and anxieties addressed in Us are relevant to our society and culture. The movie brings them to light in a unique way, using symbolism and storytelling to highlight these issues.

Social class and inequality

The movie Us is a social commentary that sheds light on the issue of social class and inequality. It explores how people from different social classes can be radically different, yet share a common bond. The movie also reveals how deep-rooted societal issues breed class disparity, which manifests in the form of economic inequality, cultural differences, and personal biases.

  • The Wilsons vs. The Tylers: One of the central themes in the movie Us is the contrast between the Wilsons, who are a working-class family, and the Tylers, who are a wealthy family. Not only do the two families have different lifestyles, but they also have different goals and aspirations. The Tylers embody the typical upper-class family who are obsessed with wealth, status, and maintaining their image. They are shown as clueless and indifferent to the plights of the underprivileged. On the other hand, the Wilsons represent the lower class, who struggle with financial limitations but display a strong familial bond and a sense of empathy. The contrast between the two families highlights how social class shapes people’s values, behavior, and worldview.
  • The Underground Tethered: The Underground Tethered, who are the clones of the people living aboveground, represent the underclass society that is subjected to appalling living conditions. The Tethered represent the people who are living on the fringes of society, who do not have equal access to resources and opportunities. The government’s neglect of the Tethered highlights how systemic issues and inequality create a cyclical effect that perpetuates social class disparity.
  • The Scissors: The scissors that the Tethered use as weapons can be interpreted as a symbol of the sharp divide between social classes. The scissors are not only tools for cutting but also represent the force that divides the haves and the have-nots. The Tethered’s use of the scissors to kill their counterparts aboveground symbolizes the result of the unchecked social and economic inequality that leads to violent conflicts and uprisings.

Social mobility and the American Dream

Us also touches upon the issue of social mobility and the American Dream. It questions the notion of the American Dream, which states that anyone can achieve success regardless of their social class and background, by portraying the cyclical nature of social class. It shows how the circumstances one is born into and their upbringing plays a significant role in their future prospects.

The movie also reveals how people who try to move up the social ladder are often viewed with suspicion and face barriers that prevent them from succeeding. This is exemplified by the character of Adelaide, who, despite her determination to leave her troubled past behind, is haunted by her past and is unable to fully escape it.

Theology of Social Justice and Privilege

Us can also be interpreted as a commentary on the theology of social justice and privilege. It challenges the idea that people are solely responsible for their own success or failure and highlights how factors outside of individual control, such as social class, race, and gender, can shape one’s life trajectory and opportunities.

Privilege People who have it
Access to resources The Tylers
Freedom to move The Wilsons (aboveground)
Access to information The Tylers

The table above shows how privilege can manifest itself in different ways, and how those with privilege can use it to maintain their position in society. The movie’s underlying message is that it is the responsibility of the privileged to acknowledge their privilege and work towards dismantling the systems that perpetuate social inequality.

Oppression and Uprising

“Us,” Jordan Peele’s sophomore film, is not simply a horror-thriller flick, but it’s a social commentary on the issues that are happening in our world. One of the main themes of the film revolves around oppression and uprising. Peele uses his storytelling to shine a light on the social constructs that are keeping people down and how they can fight back against them.

In the film, the Wilson family represents the oppressed. They are underprivileged and struggling to make ends meet. On the other hand, the Tethered, the doppelgangers of the Wilson family, represents the uprising. They are the ones who are tired of being oppressed and want to take control of their lives. The Tethered can be seen as a metaphor for minority groups that are fighting against systemic oppression in our society.

  • Throughout the movie, Peele uses imagery to represent oppression. For example, the Tethered are forced to live in dark and dirty underground tunnels, while the Wilson family represents the privileged living in their pristine home. This contrast highlights the disparities in our society between the haves and the have-nots.
  • The Tethered also wear red jumpsuits and single gloves, which can symbolize the prison system and how it confines people to a limited space.
  • The scissors that the Tethered use to kill their counterparts represent the way that the oppressed can use the tools of their oppressors against them.

However, the film does not simply paint the Tethered as violent revolutionaries. Instead, it shows how the oppressed can use intelligence and creativity to fight back against their oppressors.

For instance, the Wilson family is forced to use tactics such as traps and trickery to outsmart their Tethered counterparts. These methods show that oppressed groups don’t have to resort to violence to bring about change, but can instead rely on their wit and intellect to overcome their struggles.

Symbolism Meaning
Hands Across America The Hands Across America event from the 1980s represents the false hope that we often cling to as a society when faced with issues such as poverty and homelessness.
The Throat Slit Gesture When the Tethered perform the throat slit gesture, it represents the ways in which the oppressed are silenced and oppressed from speaking up.
The Fun House The Fun House where Adelaide’s trauma takes place is a metaphorical representation of how society treats those who are different. It’s a place where people can be taunted and made fun of.

Overall, “Us” uses powerful imagery and symbolism to comment on the struggles of the oppressed and how they can fight back against their oppressors. Peele masterfully highlights the injustices of our society through his storytelling, and it’s up to us to understand and take action against these issues.

Identity and self-discovery

One of the overarching themes of the movie Us is identity and self-discovery. Throughout the film, the characters are confronted with their own sense of identity and the identities of those around them that are revealed to be more complex than they initially believed. This theme unfolds in a number of ways:

  • The duality of identity: The central premise of the movie is that the characters have “doppelgängers” who are revealed to be their exact duplicates – a physical representation of the duality of identity. This leads to a broader exploration of what it means to have a singular, cohesive identity and how that identity can be fragmented or split.
  • The search for belonging: Many of the characters in the movie are seeking a sense of belonging and connection, whether it’s Adelaide’s desire to fit in with her beach community or Red’s desire to find a place for her “tethered” people in the world. This search for belonging is tied to questions of identity and self-discovery, as the characters grapple with who they are and where they fit in the world around them.
  • The blurry line between good and evil: In the movie, the “evil” characters are revealed to have complex motivations and histories that complicate the traditional hero/villain dichotomy. This blurring of the line between good and evil highlights the complexity of identity and the ways in which people’s actions and beliefs are shaped by their experiences and circumstances.

In addition to these themes, the movie also includes a number of subtle nods and symbols related to identity and self-discovery. For example, the number 11:11 appears multiple times throughout the movie and is often associated with spiritual awakening and self-discovery.

Symbol Meaning
The scissors Symbolize the breaking of identity and the physical severing of connection
The rabbits Represent the idea of being trapped and helpless, as well as the idea of reproduction and the creation of new life

Overall, Us is a complex and layered movie that uses identity and self-discovery as a vehicle to explore a range of themes and ideas. Through its use of symbolism and nuanced character development, the movie invites viewers to consider their own sense of identity and the complexities that come with understanding oneself and others.

The idea of the American Dream

The American Dream is the belief that anyone can achieve success and prosperity in the United States through hard work and determination. It is one of the most enduring and powerful myths in American culture, often portrayed in movies and pop culture. And, in Jordan Peele’s movie “Us,” the idea of the American Dream gets a twisted representation.

In the movie, the Wilson family represents a typical American family, living a comfortable life. But, their peace is disrupted when they are confronted by their doppelgangers. The doppelgangers, who are called the Tethered, symbolize the shadow self—the dark side of the American Dream.

  • The Tethered represent the people who are left behind in the pursuit of the American Dream. They are the marginalized group who live in poverty and suffer from inequality.
  • The white rabbits in the movie, which the Tethered wear, represent the exploitation of the working class. It is a reference to the “white rabbit” term used in factory work to describe a person who gets paid less than the others and has to work harder.
  • The golden scissors that the Tethered use to attack represent the division between the haves and the have-nots.

The movie “Us” is a commentary on the failure of the American Dream, where the Tethered represent the people who are excluded from the dream. It highlights the economic and social inequality that exists in the United States, and how it affects the marginalized population.

Overall, “Us” symbolizes the darker side of the American Dream, where not everyone gets to reap the benefits of their hard work and determination. It is a reminder that the American Dream is not a reality for everyone, and there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving equality and prosperity for all.

Family and relationships

The movie Us is not only a horror movie but an allegory for issues within society, particularly within the family dynamic. The symbolism used throughout the movie is carefully curated to represent a deeper meaning.

The Number 7

One of the recurring numbers throughout the movie is the number 7. This number appears in different forms, from the number of people in the main family to the number of rabbits in the cages in the underground “tethered” world. The significance of the number 7 in the Bible is that it represents completeness and perfection. This can be interpreted as a representation of both the beauty and functionality of the family in its most perfect state.

  • The family portrayed in the movie consists of 4 people – Adelaide, Gabe, Zora, and Jason, which then becomes 7 when the “tethered” family is introduced.
  • The 7 rabbits in the cages can also be seen as a representation of the 7 family members. The rabbits are being used as a source of food for the “tethered” family, which can be seen as the “evil” part of the family in contrast to the “good” part that is the main family.
  • Another instance where the number 7 is significant is towards the end of the movie when Adelaide enters the “tethered” world. She is seen walking through a deserted hall with 7 doorways, each leading to a different area of the underworld. This can be interpreted as a representation of the completeness of both worlds, showing how they are interconnected and cannot function without each other.

The significance of the number 7 in Us can also be interpreted as a representation of the balance and harmony within the family unit. The movie highlights the importance of maintaining a strong family bond, even in the face of adversity. The number 7 is used to represent an idealistic family dynamic that should be striven for – one that is complete, whole, and functional.

Childhood trauma and its impact

In the movie Us, childhood trauma is a prominent theme that is explored in various ways. The Wilson family, the protagonists of the movie, is haunted by a traumatic experience that occurred in young Adelaide’s life. She was kidnapped and held captive in a mirror world by her doppelganger, Red, leaving lasting scars on her psyche.

The trauma experienced by Adelaide is just one example of how childhood trauma can have a lasting impact on an individual’s life. Childhood trauma is defined as a disturbing experience that occurs before the age of 18 and can include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglect, or witnessing violence.

  • Childhood trauma can lead to numerous mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research shows that individuals who have experienced childhood trauma are at a higher risk of developing these conditions later in life.
  • Childhood trauma can also affect an individual’s physical health. It can lead to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. Individuals who have experienced childhood trauma are also more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Childhood trauma can impact an individual’s relationships. It can make it difficult for them to form healthy attachments and trust others, leading to social isolation and loneliness.

The impact of childhood trauma on an individual’s life is vast and complex. It can affect their physical and mental health, relationships, and overall well-being. Therapy and support can be helpful in healing from childhood trauma and moving towards a healthier future.

Effects of Childhood Trauma Examples
Mental Health Depression, anxiety, PTSD
Physical Health Chronic illnesses, engaging in unhealthy behaviors
Relationships Difficulty forming healthy attachments, social isolation

The impact of childhood trauma on an individual’s life can be seen in the characters of Us. The Wilson family was forever changed by the traumatic experience that Adelaide experienced as a child, leading to a chain of events that culminated in a terrifying and shocking conclusion. Us serves as a reminder of the lasting impact that childhood trauma can have on an individual’s life and the importance of seeking help and support.

Dualism of Good and Evil

The movie Us delves deep into the theme of dualism where good and evil are depicted as equal and opposite forces. However, the portrayal of this duality is not as simple as black and white but rather, it is presented through different facets of human nature.

One of the most prominent symbolisms of duality in the movie is the use of the number 9. The number is repeatedly shown throughout the film and holds significant meaning in the context of dualism.

  • On one hand, the number represents the idea of unity and completeness as it is the last single-digit number before the repetition of zeros in numeral systems.
  • On the other hand, the number also holds a darker connotation as it is associated with the underworld and mysticism in various cultures.
  • In numerology, number 9 is believed to be the number of endings and new beginnings. It signifies the end of a phase of life and the start of a new cycle.

Therefore, the symbolism of number 9 in Us represents the duality of good and evil. It is the point where everything ends and begins again, much like the two sides of human nature portrayed in the movie. Additionally, the number’s association with the underworld adds depth to the idea that evil and darkness reside within every human being, and it is up to us to choose which side we give power to.

Moreover, the repetition of the number 9, as seen on the t-shirts worn by the Tethered and the Hands Across America campaign, also symbolizes the replication of the self. Each of the Tethered clones represents a dark side of the protagonist’s self and highlights how the duality of good and evil is not limited to just one person but is present in every individual.

Positive Connotations of Number 9 Negative Connotations of Number 9
Unity Underworld
Completeness Mysticism
New Beginnings Endings

The use of the number 9 in Us highlights the dualism of good and evil and how it is an intrinsic part of human nature. It prompts the viewers to reflect on their own duality and the choices they make in life.

The role of government and authority in Us

The movie Us provides a thought-provoking commentary on government and authority. Throughout the film, we see the government depicted as a distant and untrustworthy entity. The family’s encounter with the double family confirms the fear and paranoia which underline this distrust of government. The movie Us is ultimately a warning about the possible consequences of blindly trusting authority, particularly when the government is not responsive to its citizens.

  • The government as untrustworthy: The movie begins with a text crawl detailing the existence of thousands of miles of tunnels beneath the United States. The existence of these tunnels perpetuates a sense of government secrecy and paranoia throughout the movie, as if the government is hiding something of which citizens like the Wilsons are unaware.
  • Fear and paranoia of the government: One of the most noticeable aspects of the movie is the fear and paranoia experienced by the main characters. The family’s home invasion by the doppelgänger family appears initially unexplainable and illogical, causing the family to distrust the government and authority more than they already did.
  • The consequences of blindly trusting authority: The main theme of the movie Us revolves around a warning about the possible consequences of blindly trusting authority. The film demonstrates what happens when people don’t question what is happening around them or the people in power. The doubles metaphorically represent those who blindly follow government authority without a second thought.

The movie Us provides commentary on the role of government and authority in modern society. The film serves as a cautionary tale for the dangers of blindly trusting government officials, and the consequences that can result from acquiescing to authority.

In conclusion, the role of government and authority in Us is a harrowing and cautionary tale about the dangers of following authority blindly. The movie presents a powerful message about the dangers of blindly trusting authority without question, and the consequences that can result when we allow our fears to overtake our judgment.

That’s a Wrap!

And there you have it, folks! The meaning behind “Us” goes far beyond its surface-level plot and dives deeper into societal issues and personal fears. From the tethered to the duality of human nature, there’s a lot to unpack here. But no matter how you interpret it, one thing is certain – Jordan Peele has once again proven himself to be a masterful filmmaker who knows how to make us scream and think at the same time. Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you later for more movie insights.

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