I’m such a big fan of thrillers – their hair-raising visuals and sound effects just keep me wanting for more. But what gets me hooked in a movie is the storyline, and the movie Us by director Jordan Peele certainly did not disappoint.
Because of its thought-provoking storyline and talented cast, it’s so easy to see why Us was such a box office success. But Us is not your average doppelganger-themed thriller. It contained a lot of symbolism that dealt with the duality of individuals, identity struggles, and a little bit of the American dream.
Us Symbolism: Meanings
In this article, I’ll talk about all the symbolism I was able to spot in the movie, as well as the meanings behind each of them.
Tribute to Michael Jackson
If there’s something that immediately caught my eye while watching the movie, it’s the uniform worn by the Tethers. I thought they looked familiar, and after doing some research, I finally saw the similarity between their costumes and what Michael Jackson wore for the music video of his song, “Thriller”.
And if you’re also paying close attention, you’ll also notice that the Tethers were wearing a single glove – another iconic Michael Jackson fashion statement.
Apparently, these elements were added into the movie on purpose. They were considered as a huge nod to the King of Duality himself. After all, Us is a movie that also symbolizes the duality of people, so a nod to MJ was certainly appropriate.
I have so much to say about the symbolism of the number 11 in this movie, so expect this to be quite lengthy.
First, you’ll notice that the biblical verse Jeremiah 11:11 appeared many times in this movie. If you go and take a look at what it says in the bible, it will send shivers down your spine. It tells of the Lord sending an inescapable evil to destroy his people – and even if they cry for help, He shall turn away from them.
If you read this verse and take a look at what transpired throughout the movie, you can tell that this verse was trying to warn them of something evil that’s about to happen. And that evil did take over eventually – in the form of the Tethers. Accordingly, the biblical meaning of 1111 is awakening, and it’s appropriate for this movie.
Aside from the biblical quote, you will also notice that the number 11 has been seen several times throughout the movie. According to experts, this symbolizes a reflection. The number 11 is a reflection of the number 1, and 1111 is a reflection of the number 11.
Similarly, the family that fought against the Tethers were fighting their reflections. In a way, it reminds us that although two things are similar on the outside, it can still be different on the inside.
Another symbol of duality in the movie are the rabbits.
During the underground scenes, we can see that their tunnels were filled with rabbits which they ate for sustenance. According to Jordan Peele himself, he always thought that rabbits were adorable, but there was something about them that he, too, found terrifying.
If you look up the symbolism of rabbits, you will find that they symbolize abundance and fertility. However, they’re also known to attract responsibilities, and since their fast multipliers, these responsibilities multiply rapidly as well. With that said, rabbits can either be good or bad, just like how the natural humans are good and their reflections are evil.
The scissors used as weapons by the tethers were also very intriguing to me. Bear in mind that the Tethers came from an abandoned government project and that they’re somehow linked to their human counterparts. Experts believe that the scissors they used to kill their human counterparts symbolized their desire to cut their connection.
In a way, it’s also symbolic of how they want to cut free and escape their horrible life underground.
A red hue was a recurring theme in this movie, but I’d like to focus on the red candy apple that Adelaide was holding when she discovered her Tether and the underground world the latter lived in. This is likened to a symbol of awakening, similar to what transpired in the Garden of Eden.
In the bible, you will recall that Adam and Eve became aware of their surroundings only after they took a bite of the apple. Before then, they weren’t aware – and they didn’t care – that they were not wearing any clothes. This was a similar awakening that Adelaide experienced when she found out about the Tethers.
A tiny detail in the movie also reveals people’s erroneous belief of what the American dream is. Here, the Tyler family is considered to be living the American dream – mostly because they have a lot of material possessions.
However, if you take a closer look at their family life, you realize that it’s not as perfect as they portray. But no one considers that because what they see is a rich family, and if you’re rich, you must be happy. This tells us that Americans are still chasing that materialistic life, forgetting the real values that they should be living with.