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Web offers symbolism in movies

A conversation about the Hunger Games series triggered me to do some online searching for political satire or symbolism used in other popular movies.

I’m not saying there’s definitely underlying meaning in Hunger Games.

I’m also not saying there definitely isn’t.

But I also think a prying reader (or movie-watcher) can find hidden links between any number of factual and fictitious stories, and Google backs me up on this.

By all accounts, Star Wars and Star Trek are two of the most easily recognizable brands on the planet.

Combined, the two series account for more than 700,000,000 results on Google and probably hundreds of thousands of different interpretations of their “deeper meanings.”

The most common for Star Wars seems a parallel with World War II, casting the Emperor as Adolph Hitler, Obi-Wan Kenobi as President Truman and Yoda as Winston Churchill.

Another theory paints Star Wars as a biblical metaphor, comparing protagonist Luke Skywalker as Jesus Christ and intergalactic villain Darth Vader as … you guessed it … Satan.

Yet another theory, on the opposite end of the spectrum, heralds Star Wars as the allegorical tale of a young man coming to grips with his own homosexuality.

Quite the wide-ranging list of possible meanings.

Star Wars creator George Lucas admits that certain aspects were influenced both by World War II and the Vietnam War.

But he’s not leading the charge to say the entire series is a sci-fi explanation of the rise and fall of the Third Reich.

The blogosphere links Star Trek with civil rights, the Vietnam War and the turmoil between Palestine and Israel.

Religion and World War II are common themes for the political underpinnings of popular movies. Hitler, being the quintessential villain of the past century, is compared with every villain in nearly every major fantasy movie series, including Voldemort from the Harry Potter series and Sauron from the Lord of the Rings series.

Sometimes fantasy and science fiction movies are political satires, rampant with symbolism and double meanings.

But sometimes, like Freud said, a cigar is just a cigar.

Garrett Rudolph is the managing editor of The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via email at grudolph@omakchronicle.com.

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