Orson Welles Narrates an Animation of Plato’s Cave Allegory

in Philosophy | July 19th, 2011

In 1973, Orson Welles narrated this animated short, which features somewhat surreal artwork by Dick Oden. You can see more of Oden’s work here.

The Allegory of the Cave illustrates Plato’s view of knowledge as presented in Book VII of The Republic: in ordinary experience, we see only shadows of the true world, which we can only behold by pursuing rigorous philosophical analysis.

This is not the only time “The Cave” has been set to film in some form. Open Culture readers may recall this brilliant version done with claymation. Gluttons for punishment may wish to peruse this collection of 20 YouTube versions at PartiallyExaminedLife.com, many of them frightfully amateurish and some of them presenting a warped and/or incomprehensible version of the story.

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Mark Linsenmayer runs the Partially Examined Life philosophy podcast and blog, which recently released an episode discussing Plato’s Republic.

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Comments (3)

  1. Amy L. says . . .
    October 27, 2011 / 12:58 pm

    I am curious if you have any more information of this video. Maybe who produced it? I am trying to find out rights for a film.

  2. steven wolf says . . .
    June 17, 2014 / 6:43 pm

    I am researching the work of Dick Oden, a southern california based illustrator. I can’t open the link to see more work by the dick oden who animated this video. Can you share the url with me. And are you sure you have the right Dick Oden?

  3. Frederick Robinson says . . .
    October 16, 2016 / 9:01 am

    It is ironic to watch these shadows on the wall and interpret them as reality; even more so for Welles and Co. to go to so much trouble to create the shadows. The best example I can think of to illustrate this point is the end of Ken Russell’s ‘The Boyfriend’, when performers we have watched for two hours or so presenting the musical within a theatre (and sometimes in fantasy sequences outwith the theatre) leave via the theatre exit and take the viewers into the fresh day-to-day world outside. Except,of course,that they are still watching a film of these events.

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