5 Memorable Spiders In Movies

A couple of months ago, I started a series called “5 Memorable…” The first instalment was 5 Memorable Earthquakes in Movies, which you can read here, and this is the second instalment, which, as the title suggests, reminds us of five times spiders were important to the plot in movies.

This spider doesn't count.

 1: The Radioactive Spider, Spider-Man

I thought I’d get the obvious one out of the way first. One single solitary (yet radioactive) spider changed Peter Parker’s life and etc. etc. Willem Dafoe, etc.

2: The Spider-God, Through A Glass Darkly

My personal favourite of the list, the appearance by God as a malicious stone-faced spider as seen through the eyes of insanity is quite a moving, striking thought. Ingmar Bergman’s film vocabulary is filled to the brim with metaphors, and this is probably one of the most memorable and well-played ones.

3: The Giant Spider, The Incredible Shrinking Man

One of the most daring and triumphant victories of man over beast is a peculiar one, indeed. In this 1957 sci-fi movie, which is quite different to others of its time, the protagonist finds himself shrinking to the point of invisibility, and finally winning a battle against a giant spider.

4: The Spider in the Bathroom, Annie Hall

“Honey, there’s a spider in your bathroom the size of a Buick!” It might not play a big part in the overall film of Annie Hall, but then again there are few scenes which actually have recurring references. It’s all like a big jumbled up mixture of random scenes from a relationship, like a series of comedy sketches.

5: Spider, Spider

The only human selection for this list, Ralph Fiennes portrayal of a mentally-secluded man confronting the demons of his childhood is a powerful tale with a great twist. David Cronenberg knows his stuff. This may not be a real spider, but in some ways, it counts.

So those are my five top picks. Can you think of any more? What do you think of the list? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.

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About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on May 7, 2011, in Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hello! I have a short story coming out soon (technically, a novel excerpt) that mentions the spider in THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY and the spider in ANNIE HALL. The references are about the fact that no actual spiders are seen in those movies, saving the production companies money on spider wranglers. After I turned in the story, I thought I would Google around to see whether anyone else had mentioned those two spiders in a single breath, and that’s how I found your blog. Well, I will let you know when the story comes out, if you like. I didn’t want you to think I was copying you or lifting your insight… especially since I also quote the “Buick” line. I guess the connection, while vague, shouldn’t be a surprise, considering Bergman’s influence on Woody Allen. Still, I wanted to be scrupulous. All right. Thanks!

    • Hi, Jack. Your project sounds interesting and I’ll admit you have my attention. I always felt a connection between the two films, especially the strong use of female jeopardy in both films which the directors utilize to prove the point of the always presumed and prejudiced emotional frailty which females are supposed to inhabit in much larger quantities than men. A powerful message about society’s treatment of women, though a subtle one. The context of the scenes is really up to the viewer, I suppose, but that’s how I see them.

  2. Thanks, Tyler. You make a wonderful point. I’m almost ashamed that in my story I don’t treat the spiders seriously at all. My narrator is a deluded fellow who wants to get his cat a part in a movie. I look forward to reading your posts on INLAND EMPIRE, one of my favorite films, and one which would fit into that pattern you discuss in your comment above. I would say (getting back to spiders) that end of THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, in which (spoiler alert) the hero becomes so small that he merges with the infinite, has some of that Bergmanesque cosmic terror in it.

    • INLAND EMPIRE is one of my favourite films as well. I’ve seen it about eight times, still trying to decode it.

      Your comment about Bergman has struck a chord with me. I never thought of it that way, but I suppose you’re right.

      Back to the spiders in ANNIE HALL and TAGD: in TAGD, the spider represents God. If Woody Allen copied this for ANNIE HALL, that would mean that the spider in his movie was some representation of God, as well. And I find it odd that Annie would call Alvy, a Jew, to confront God for her. One of the subtle religious references I’ve seen in Allen’s films, but it only occurred to me when I compared it to Bergman.

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