The Room: A symbolic analysis

The first question which comes to one’s mind is “why on earth analyse this film”? The answer is obvious: Even though I do not consider The Room any important piece of art, it is definitely a milestone of bad film-making. And since Tommy Wiseau himself claimed that The Room contains many symbols and hidden meanings, why not uncover some of them?

Johnny and San Francisco

The film starts with a few shots of San Francisco, which later repeats some thousand times. Is it really necessary to remind us so many times that we are in Frisco? The answer is yes.

The setting of the film is extremely important for understanding the system of values the characters stick to. San Francisco is generally considered one of the most liberal cities in the world. It’s famous for its tolerance, gay community, the Hippies and free love. San Francisco is a kind of Mecca of liberalism.

And now, look at Johnny. A successful banker, a clerk, a self-made man. He is the figure that impersonates the American dream in this film. He represents the values San Francisco rejects. Johnny is the figure that is in strong opposition against the spirit of the city he lives in. A man searching for some solid ground and a loving wife. It’s not Lisa’s infidelity as such which destroys Johnny in the end. It’s the world he cannot live in. His “otherness” is stressed by his kind of creepy look and bizarre accent. He cannot live in this “changed” America, he may not even be a part of this world at all.

Spoons!

Johnny’s rather anti-liberal way of life is also symbolized by the framed pictures of cutlery. What do we use cutlery for? For eating. For filling up our insatiable bodies. Guzzling while the rest of the world is starving. “If a lot of people loved each other, the world would be a better place to live,” says Johnny to Denny. However, Johnny’s love is restricted to the people of his neighbourhood (whilst Lisa’s love is restricted to herself only). He doesn’t give a damn about the world outside. He’s a hard-working man but a consumer, too. Thus we have got two types of “bad” people in The Room: people caring about themselves × people caring not enough. However, the latter are depicted rather positively, but there are also indicia that prove that there’s something bad about them – the spoons.

Mark and his beard

The scene in which Mark almost kills Peter on the roof is a kind of a turning point of the film. With Peter’s help, Mark finally realizes who Lisa really is. Mark’s state of mind is also very important. He’s desperate, he looks depressed and he smokes “that stuff”. After Peter’s inter­vention, he cheers up. This is symbolized by shaving his famous beard. The guys’ reaction to this change speaks for itself. However, as the plot progresses, we see that the change was rather cosmetic and Mark still doesn’t know what to do when Lisa insists on being screwed.

The message of this “change” is clear – changing your style is not sufficient. You will not drive the demons of your soul away with just shaving your beard.

Chocolate

Chocolate is the symbol of love.

Peter and the football

One of the IMDb users commented on the (in)famous football breaks. He stated that the football is a symbol of a woman men just toss and pass to each other. If we draw on this hypothesis, we’ll come to an interesting conclusion. Remember Peter not willing to “play some football”? I am sure you know what I am pointing to. Yes, Peter is gay. (In fact, I didn’t come to this conclusion on my own, since I usually come to little stuff only – thanks to Marcus Sullivan’s The Room novelization.)

Speaking about Peter’s disap­pearance towards the end of the film, we can interpret it as his resignation to participating in this charade of love and betrayal, which he finds disgusting. It’s also an act of escape – he’s a psychologist, he should be used to help corrupted minds. (Yes, I know there were some creative differences between Vogt and Wiseau, but this analysis is just for fun, so don’t take my points too seriously.)

Red colour

Red has always been a colour symbolizing a sin even in film-making. Just consider David Lean’s use of red colour in his Doctor Zhivago. There are three red items demonstrating the connection with the concept of a sin in The Room.

The first is the red apple Denny bites when Johnny and Lisa go upstairs to have sex. Denny is growing up and experience is his sin. The apple, by mistake considered the symbol of the first sin, is a clue for Denny’s actions to come – the drug deal. He’s not a child any more, he feels mature. Drugs – what an experience! Elizabeth Huh – what an experience!

The second red item to symbolize a sin is the room itself. It’s not only the “private place” and a place where you can feel safe, as Tommy Wiseau would probably say, but it’s also the location where all the nasty stuff takes place.

The third and the most evident proof of the red × sin connection is Lisa’s infamous red dress. Lisa is a sin incarnation. Moreover, she’s not a real person – she’s just a shell, a case containing evil intentions. She cannot be considered human any more. Her body becomes metaphorically identical to the red dress. This is important from the point of view of the final scenes – see below.

Johnny’s act of destruction

Before Johnny shoots his brains out and finishes his dasein, he destroys his flat. Again, this points out Johnny’s ambivalent relation to the world. He breaks his stuff but he can’t physically assault anybody. He loves people too much. However, his relation to material things has changed. Perfectly arranged furniture, nice bed, photos on the mantelpiece. All this is smashed in anger. Then the act of metaphorical killing comes. First, he kills himself by breaking the mirror. The reality as reflected ceases to exist. Then he finds Lisa’s dress and tears it apart. That’s his way of killing her, his revenge. As mentioned before, she’s not a real person. Everything she is is just a red dress.

Breast cancer, drug deal and abandoned subplots

Many problems bothering the characters are mentioned once and then forgotten. I think it symbolizes the way the world goes. You’ve got some problem, you can be ill, you can take drugs, but the world goes on. People on the other side of the planet have got their own troubles and don’t care that you owe some money to a gangster in tracksuit. You didn’t get your promotion? Who cares… The universe is the same at any time and anywhere. The world does not change. Your problems do not exist in the collective conscious.

Quasi conclusion

That’s all, ladies and gentlemen. I think only through an analysis of the symbols used in the film you can tell what a man of genius Tommy Wiseau is. Don’t let yourselves be fooled by the cheep look and bad acting – there are features much more important in The Room.

Should you find any grammar mistakes in the text (I’m not a native speaker), let me know. Or add your own interpretations. Bye, everybody!

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