In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Her, we look at important motifs that help us understand the film.
- Joaquin Phoenix – Theodore Twombly
- Scarlett Johansson – Samantha
- Amy Adams – Amy
- Rooney Mara – Catherine Klausen
- Olivia Wilde – Blind Date
- Matt Letscher – Charles
- Luka Jones – Mark Lewman
- Chris Pratt – Paul
- Kristen Wiig – Sexy Kitten
- Bill Hader – Chat Room Friend #2
- Portia Doubleday – Isabella
- Soko – Isabella’s voice
- Brian Cox – Alan Watts
- Spike Jonze – Writer and director
Important motifs in Her
Loneliness and isolation
Throughout the movie, Her emphasizes the theme of loneliness and isolation by visually and narratively highlighting Theodore’s emotional disconnection from the world around him. The cinematography often shows Theodore alone in vast, empty spaces, such as his apartment or in public places like the subway. This motif is further emphasized by his occupation as a writer for Beautiful Handwritten Letters, where he composes intimate letters for others but remains emotionally distant from the recipients and the real emotions behind the letters.
Technology and human connection
The motif of technology as both a facilitator and barrier to human connection is central to the film. Theodore’s relationship with Samantha exemplifies this duality. While Samantha provides Theodore with emotional support and companionship, the fact that she is an AI underscores the limitations and potential consequences of seeking connection through technology. For example, when Theodore uses an earpiece to communicate with Samantha in public, he is physically present but emotionally disconnected from those around him.
Color and visual cues
Her uses color and visual cues as a motif to convey emotions and themes. The film’s color palette consists of warm, soft tones, creating a sense of intimacy and vulnerability. The frequent use of the color red, such as in Theodore’s shirt or the OS packaging, symbolizes both love and the artificial nature of Samantha. Additionally, the film often shows Theodore in confined or enclosed spaces, such as his apartment, reinforcing the motif of isolation.
Escapism and virtual worlds
The motif of escapism and virtual worlds appears throughout Her, highlighting the allure of seeking solace in artificial environments. For instance, Theodore frequently plays a holographic video game that allows him to escape his loneliness momentarily. Similarly, his relationship with Samantha can be seen as a form of escapism, as he finds solace in the emotional connection they share despite her artificial nature. This motif raises questions about the consequences of seeking comfort in virtual or artificial experiences.
Memory and nostalgia
Memory and nostalgia serve as a recurring motif in Her, emphasizing the impact of past experiences on the characters’ present lives. The film frequently features flashbacks of Theodore’s memories with his ex-wife, Catherine, illustrating the lingering pain of their failed relationship. Additionally, Samantha’s ability to access and process vast amounts of information allows her to create nostalgic experiences for Theodore, such as when she composes a piano piece based on their relationship. This motif underscores the influence of memory on personal growth and the importance of reconciling with the past.
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