The meaning of the film “The Circle”
The 2017 film “The Circle” is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Dave Eggers. Judging by the rating of the film on IMDb and Kinopoisk, the adaptation is not very successful – many details were lost when moving from book to script, and what was still included in the film turned out to be pretty much altered. But looking for meaning in the film “The Circle” is no less interesting from this.
I assume that most of my readers have not yet gotten to the novel, so sometimes I will refer to and quote it, but in a way that is understandable to those who have not read the book. The paper “The Circle” will help us to understand the meaning of the “The Circle” cinematic in those places where the director and screenwriter obviously missed something.
What does “The Circle” symbolize?
The Circle is a universal image of a giant IT corporation. As blogger AtZ correctly noted , The Circle is not in Silicon Valley – it is Silicon Valley. In Eggers’ book, The Circle is called “the only company on which something really depends.”
I don’t think The Circle is a satire on one of the real IT companies, say Google, Apple or Uber. True, the logo of the fictional corporation suspiciously resembles the Uber logo, repainted and inverted. This is all the more strange because the book contains an accurate description of the The Circle logo: “a wicker lattice in a ball, with a small ‘c’ in the center.” Why did the filmmakers alter the logo – I do not know, but in the book “The Circle” is emphatically separated from real IT companies: “the giant that swallowed Facebook, Twitter, Google.”
The Circle’s image is too versatile to be a distorting mirror for Google or Facebook. It symbolizes something more global. According to Tom Hanks , “The Circle” is everything that the Internet aspires to be. And people create the Internet: people write code and conduct networks, people make content and consume it, people like and leave comments. The Circle is a metaphor for the Internet, not a targeted strike at one or two IT companies.
The Circle is a dream job for May, who so lacked self-realization.
Is “transparency” an absolute evil?
“Secrets are lies,” May says, and solemnly declares herself completely transparent. For Ty and Mercer, on the other hand, giving up their privacy is impossible, the prospect scares them. But even in the world of “The Circle” the question of the legality of interference in someone else’s life has not been resolved unequivocally, and even more so in real life.
The film contains at least two examples of how The Circle technologies are making the world a better place. If it weren’t for SeeChange cameras everywhere, May would have died the night she hijacked the kayak. If not for SoulSearch, the woman who killed three children would never have been found.
There are more such examples in the book. A character named Francis, who is not in the film, lost two little sisters as a child – they were kidnapped, raped and killed. At The Circle, he is part of a team developing a technology for implanting GPS trackers into bone tissue. He explains to May that this technology will save thousands of children’s lives.
But the same technologies can break human life. With the help of the ubiquitous SeeChange cameras, the multimillion-dollar audience caught May’s parents in the bedroom – and the elderly couple will never recover from shame. SoulSearch allowed May to find Mercer in a matter of minutes – only for the young man to die defending his privacy.
Above, we have already found out that “The Circle” is a metaphor for the Internet. “The Internet will always be a reflection of the person,” says Tom Hanks. And the point of the movie “The Circle” is not that high technology is an unambiguous evil. Even “transparency” (at first glance – a nightmarish violation of human rights!) Can save human life or help justice. But technology will serve good or evil – it depends on the people in whose hands they are.
Eamon Bailey treats May almost like a father, but this does not prevent him and Stanton from using her for corporate purposes.
Is The Circle a dystopia?
“This is not a dystopia, this is a film about today’s society,” insists Emma Watson . Indeed, it is not so difficult to find personal information about most of us: go to a page on VK or Instagram and collect. And the availability of information in real life does not always turn out to be good: thanks to it, bullying, threats and blackmail are possible on the Internet.
During a roundtable to mark the release of The Circle, Patton Oswalt (playing Tom Stanton) said, “People are not getting famous anymore – social media is making them famous.” “Social media is an amplifier, a megaphone that can be used for evil or for good,” agreed Emma Watson. Whenever you read this article, you will easily remember another example of how someone became infamous on the Internet against their will. This is the flip side of high technologies – the one that the creators of “The Circle” warn us about.
May is completely neither on Ty’s side nor on Eamon Bailey’s side. She has her own understanding of how the world should work
What is the meaning of the ending?
The main character of the film, Mae Holland, is cross-influenced by two characters – Ty Lafitte and Eamon Bailey. Ty Lafitte, the creator of TruYou technology (in Russian translation, this name turned into the ridiculous “Autenty”), is unhappy with what Eamon Bailey and Tom Stanton turned his invention into. He is against interference in private life, but does not openly express his position, keeps in the background. After listening to his story, May stops idealizing The Circle. But nevertheless, she falls into the trust of Eamon Bailey and becomes, in fact, the face of the company.
As Patton Oswalt aptly pointed out , Bailey and Stanton are using May as the leader of the lemmings, who will jump down the cliff and carry the rest with him. She becomes “transparent” herself, and in the finale she makes an unexpected move – she makes Stanton and Bailey “transparent”. After May has hung SeeChange cameras on them live in front of millions of viewers, they can no longer simply remove the devices. Moreover, they themselves took the first step towards this when they undertook to monitor the private life of the senator. Shortly before the denouement, we learn that Mei asked Ty for help and, probably, conceived this whole plan under his influence. But does this mean that Ty won?
May took power from Bailey and Stanton, now they can not get away from the all-seeing eye of the crowd and use the collected information to their advantage. But to whom did this power pass? To everyone and to no one. Ty certainly did not remain the winner – after all, he opposed the idea of universal control. Now power went to the crowd – the very people who brought Mercer to death.
In the final footage, we see Mei surrounded by drones. This means that now every person on Earth lives under the round-the-clock supervision of the rest of the population. Is the world better or worse? If “secrets are lies,” then there are no lies or crimes left now? Yes and no. Knowing that he is being watched, a person will not be able to commit a bad deed – the punishment will follow instantly. But this does not mean that a person does not want to do bad things . You can get rid of crime, but not from the evil inside a person. And people in the world of “The Circle”, as in our reality with you, are still far from perfect.