All the scifi movies you love are allegory


There’s a thread on the movie Ad Astra burning in the Science Fiction group. And I need to find the gif of Mal Reynolds to express my feelings on it. I’ll make it the first comment.

Look. Folks. Do people generally understand that Ad Astra is an allegory?

It’s been the fashion for scifi movies to be symbolic / metaphorical / allegorical since Kubrick’s 2001 : A Space Odyssey. Here’s a brief list of scifi movies in this style.



Solaris (both versions)

Blade Runner (+2049)



The Martian

Ad Astra

For anyone who missed this lesson in English class, allegory is generally introduced with reference to Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, which is a very clear allegory for the journey of a soul towards God.

Imagine some medieval peoples critiquing Pilgrim’s Progress for not being an accurate depiction of the geography of 1600s England? Or for messing up the time it takes to walk between towns? You would probably want to help by pointing out the story is not literally about walking across the countryside.

To break down a few of the metaphorical / allegorical meanings in the above movies…

Gravity – Sandra Bullock has lost her child, her adventure in space represents the stages of grief.

The Martian – Ridley Scott picks up the subtext from Robinson Crusoe of the Individual vs Society. Listen to Matt Damon’s final speech, it makes the metaphor explicit.

Interstellar – Matthew McConaughy as Space Jesus. The speech on love as a force basically pure Christian theology.

Ad Astra – is an imitation of Interstellar in many ways, including this time Brad Pitt as Space Jesus, the Son journeying towards the Father for the salvation of humankind (I think Ad Astra is an especially clumsy allegory)

Storytellers are drawn to symbolism, metaphor and allegory, especially when making scifi movies, because it seems like the key to replicating the success of movies like 2001 and Blade Runner. I actually think it’s overdone at this point.

AND ALSO will Apple TVs SILO be more than a mystery box?


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.


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