The film directed by Denis Villeneuve Enemy (2013) is a psychological detective story that captures our attention from the first minutes of viewing. Perhaps you wondered what the spiders symbolize in this film? Next, we will find out what is their meaning.
Adam Bell is a professor at the College of History in the Toronto area. He is a rather gloomy person, mainly because he is stuck in a routine that includes a relationship with his girlfriend, Mary. While watching a movie rental, he notices an actor in a small part that looks like him. Adam becomes possessed upon learning of this doppelgänger. He learns that the stage name of the actor is Danielle St. Clair, whose real name is Anthony Clair. Claire is an actor from Toronto and is married to a woman named Helen who is currently several months pregnant. Adam then becomes obsessed with meeting Claire, whom he recognizes upon first sighting. They look exactly the same, from their facial hair to the scar they each have. Let’s take a step-by-step look at what the movie The Enemy is about.
The meaning of the film and its images
The constant references to spiders are not the theme of the movie, per se. But what do they mean? (Seems to be something everyone wants to know)
Let’s look at spiders and what they symbolize in a broader sense. Female spiders are among the few animals that kill and devour their male partners shortly after mating. The idea of destroying and eating one’s sexual female is horrendous for people whose society is built on the concept of male and female mating and staying together as partners to raise their children together. Why do you think women who kill their husbands/boyfriends/lovers are often called “black widow” killers in the media?
It was this interpretation of the spider that Denis Villeneuve sought to use when using the spider in Enemy.
Throughout the film, the most direct appearances of spiders always involve women. In particular, spiders are used to refer to Anthony’s wife and mother, as well as Adam’s girlfriend. Other, smaller references to spiders are made throughout the film, but I believe they are used to heighten Anthony’s fear of women. Example: the wires above the city merge together, creating a web-like appearance.
Let’s break down the main spider appearances and how they relate to the women in the movie:
The first time we see a spider is at the very beginning of the movie. Anthony is in the sex club and is tall, blond, who looks a lot like Adam’s girlfriend, Mary. A blond model puts a dish with a rather large fluffy spider on stage. She looms in high-heeled shoes. As the spiders crawl from the plate onto the stage, the model’s leg hangs over her and begins to descend, as if to crush the spider.
This scene of the blonde model crushing the spider in the sex club symbolizes Anthony’s revenge fantasies for women. Although not yet revealed in chronological order, Anthony projects all of his hostility towards his wife, Helen, into the spider, as Helen “trapped” Anthony in her web of marriage and pregnancy. Anthony’s affair with Mary, symbolized by a blonde model, is his tool of choice for revenge on Helen, personified by the spider.
Next time we see a spider: it’s a huge monster that looms over the city. Anthony sees this while looking out the window of his mother’s house. Shortly thereafter, his mother reprimands him for his failed acting career.
Anthony’s complicated relationship with his narcissistic and controlling mother is the reason for his dark feelings towards women. The spider he sees here is the largest of the four arachnids in the film. Like most men, Anthony’s mother serves as the most significant role model in his life. Thus, his relationship with her helps shape his views on women.
The next significant spider motif is shown in Anthony’s dream sequence. In the dream, he returned to the sex club and saw the same model from the first scene of the film. This time she is walking on the ceiling and her face is no longer hers. Instead, on her shoulders is the hideous fanged face of a spider. This dream comes after we see Anthony’s car accident with his girlfriend “Adam” after their fight in the hotel room.
This scene takes place near the end of the movie. Recall the mention that the model looks like Mary. The model’s face is now a grotesque spider face. This symbolizes Anthony’s anger towards Mary for leaving him. That’s what their battle was about, and Anthony did his best to keep Mary, but to no avail.
The meaning of the ending of the movie The Enemy
The end of The Enemy is the most confusing part of the movie for many people. It makes sense if you understand the spider motif. Anthony finds the key to the sex club in his coat and is seduced again by his secret life of infidelity. (The sex club symbolizes his desire for sex outside of marriage.) Helen gets out of the shower and goes to their bedroom. Anthony mentions that he wants to “go out” that evening, but Helen doesn’t answer. (Keep in mind, Helen KNOWS about Anthony’s past misunderstandings and is concerned that he will have another affair.) Getting no response from Helen, Anthony checks on her, only to find out that she has turned into a huge tarantula. The massive spider that practically fills their bedroom becomes so intimidated by it that it retreats into the wall and cowers there.
This moment symbolizes a change in the power dynamics of the Anthony/Helen relationship, at least from Anthony’s point of view. She still spins a web, an evil spider woman who wants to trap and consume him in his own mind, but now she’s also trapped and dependent on him in a way. Her fear that he might cheat again gives him a certain strength in the relationship, at least for the moment. Anthony understands this too.
Write in the comments your assumptions and theories about what the film The Enemy is about and what its meaning is. We look forward to waiting!