Orson Welles Narrates an Animation of Plato’s Cave Allegory

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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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free­dom Riv­er: A Para­ble Told by Orson Welles

Orson Welles Reads Moby Dick

Free Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

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 (4)
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  • Amy L. says:

    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.

  • steven wolf says:

    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?

  • Frederick Robinson says:

    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.

  • Amber Suzor says:

    Hi Amy. I am in a sim­i­lar posi­tion, try­ing to find the rights of this video for a fea­ture film. Won­der­ing if you had any luck find­ing it?

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