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There are a lot of weird visions about spiders in Enemy (2013) and I was wondering if that signified something about the character?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Two theories are offered by Slate writer Forrest Wickman in an article about the ending, and (more to your question) by actress Sarah Gadon in an interview with Hollywood Reporter.

Forrest Wickman (totalitarian angle):

...Ultimately it's a parable about what it’s like to live under a totalitarian state without knowing it. It’s an Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie in which you don’t even realize it’s an Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie until the end—until it’s too late for our hero. In this case, the body snatchers just happen to be giant spiders.

Sarah Gadon (female intimacy angle):

"I think the spider[s are] a sign of his fear of female intimacy; it's a physical manifestation of his fear of female intimacy."

(The rest of this response is personal theory and speculation.)

I think both theories are correct and work well together. I particularly like the fear of intimacy theory and would go further: Adam is an oppressed, subtley misogynistic character who is attracted to but also subconsciously repulsed by and resentful of women, failing to understand them. When he dreams/sees spiders it's an expression of his oblique view of a species (or in general, a world) he doesn't "get".


I believe after the first scene of the movie, the spider scenes are dreams: a woman with a spider head, a Dali-esque city spider and finally the wife-as-spider transformation. Each dream is Adam's, and each one is longer and less distinctly a dream -- it's harder to tell when one begins or ends. The more surreal Adam's life becomes, the less it matters whether he's dreaming at all. Further, while the last scene in editing is the wife-as-spider transformation, I believe the actual last scene of the narrative is the first scene of the movie. I believe we're seeing Adam going to the sex club with his doorman in a flash forward. He's a regular there now. He has completely assumed his clone's life, wears his clone's wedding ring and wristwatch, and as an escape attends these sex shows like his clone did... Adam is so deep in the surreal that neither he nor we can know if he's dreaming anymore. By now, it doesn't matter.

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Update: Adam Johnston (YourMovieSucks) has also posted his comprehensive 13-minute interpretation of the film. Spider discussion begins @ 5:07 (warning, adult language) – rbsite May 5 '14 at 10:31
The giant spider over the city is clearly inspired by Maman - a famous, enormous sculpture of a surrealist spider. – Jeff Oct 26 '14 at 16:21

protected by Community Jun 4 '14 at 22:02

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