Orson Welles’s psychedelic 1973 adaptation of Plato’s timeless allegory of the cave
Warning: this film features rapidly flashing images that can be distressing to photosensitive viewers.
It is the task of the enlightened not only to ascend to learning and to see the good but to be willing to descend again to those prisoners and to share their troubles and their honours, whether they are worth having or not. And this they must do, even with the prospect of death.
– Plato’s Republic, Book 7
Plato’s allegory of the cave thought-experiment ponders the experience of prisoners shackled in a cave from birth, only able to see the shadows of objects projected onto a wall. The text then traces the journey of a prisoner who is set free from the cave, given the opportunity to experience reality in the glow of the Sun and, upon returning to the cave, is met with laughter by the other prisoners, who think him a fool for struggling to readjust to his old existence. A simple story yielding complex commentaries on the nature of reality and wisdom, Plato’s timeless allegory is built into the foundations of modern philosophy and, more than two millennia later, still stirs debate. Carried by a rich narration from Orson Welles, this rarely seen 1973 animated adaptation of Plato’s words populates the tale with haunting human figures, bringing retro-surreal life to the parable.
Via Open Culture
Director: Sam Weiss
Narrator: Orson Welles
Animator: Dick Oden