Colour, Sound and Other Symbols in "Soylent Green" by Richard Fleischer

Essay by niftypaintbrushHigh School, 11th grade April 2004

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Frequent polarizations are not the only way the dysfunctional world of "Soylent Green" is vividly recreated for the audience; there are also individual signs, or symbols, lacking opposites, whose connotations are very different from their literal meanings. These connotations include emotional overtones, subjective interpretations and socio-cultural values. Because of their ability to change over time, signs create a unique chain of references that can be broken down to provide an even bigger insight into the dystopia of the future.

The most obvious symbolism is that of the name; the protagonist, Robert Thorn and his friend Sol Roth's names are particularly interesting. Representing sin, sorrow and hardship, the thorn is one of the most ancient symbols in the world; along with the rose, it represents pain and pleasure. The thorn is an emblem of Christ's passion (the crown of thorns). There is an element of Christ in Thorn, he is passionate, determined and heroic.

Sol may be derived from Solomon, meaning wise. By giving the characters such meaningful names, the writer gives us an immediate insight into them.

Colours symbolise a great deal in this film and some colours have particularly strong meanings. Green is the most prominent colour in the film, and it also forms part of the title. It can represent envy, evil, trickery, growth, renewal, life, neutrality, passivity and indecision. It is a sign of freshness, youth, virtue and peace. In the film, we can link green to global warming, a sick feeling, unhealthiness, weirdness, depression and pollution. It is also ironic because the colour green represents life, and Soylent Green is composed of dead people.

Black represents a lack of colour, a primordial void, and emptiness. It can also mean sorrow or mourning (the Christian tradition of wearing black to funerals). In this respect it can also...