Secret motifs on the Screen: Part2 Fire
The Symbolism of Fire
Let’s see how fire works as a symbol in storytelling. Please read my water hub if you haven’t as I am skipping the intro to hidden symbols.
Fire, in myths and the collective consciousness, stands for many things depending on its source, fury, strength and size.
Water flows down due to gravity. It could mean something given to us by heaven. Fire, on the other hand, reaches upwards, towards the heavens, and provides us warmth, protection and light. That’s why it represents growth, enlightenment and ‘burning’ ambition.
Next time you see fire used in a story, note how the storyteller has made it stand for something. And tell us, please!
Small fires like bonfires are the warmth of relationships. They promote togetherness, and promise sustenance. Scenes with fireplaces or bonfires mean this, and they are practical props, could be more concrete than metaphoric. Whether we portray cave dwellers or a family celebrating Christmas. Or a camp. Or two friends-to-be in a Western movie sharing food.
Torches mean knowledge or learning. All school stories use fire. When Harry Potter and fellow students cross the lake, the boats have flaming torches like masts.
Lamp posts, like the one the children see when they enter Narnia, represents something to be learnt; some knowledge in waiting.
Blazing fires are danger, war, fury…these are used to much advantage in posters. Most action movies have a lot of this in the climax. Check The Matrix Revolutions out. They could mean things gone out of control, as well.
In Bond movies, fire shows the destruction of a villain's empire by James Bond.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, fire in the climax is divine fury.