'Us' movie: 11 easter eggs, hidden meanings, and theories you probably missed
27 March 2019, 20:36
Us easter eggs, theories, and symbolism explained. From Jeremiah 11:11 to the meaning behind the rabbits and Hands Across America. We know Jordan Peele's Us left you with more than a few questions.
Jordan Peele's Us is full of easter eggs, hidden meanings, and sharp pop culture references. From the visual symbolism of the rabbits in the film to the meaning behind the Jeremiah 11:11 bible verse. When it comes to making sure fans parse through every colour choice, line of dialogue, and pop culture throwback, no one does it better than Jordan Peele.
If the symbolism in Us had your gears turning long after you left the theatre, here is an explanation and analysis behind some of the film's key themes and imagery.
Warning: This post contains spoilers!
Jeremiah 11:11 bible verse meaning and the significance of the number 11.
Before childhood Adelaide wanders into the hall of mirrors, she passes a man on the street holding a cardboard sign that says Jeremiah 11:11. The King James translation of the bible verse in question is quite ominous sounding:
“Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.”
But what does that actually mean?
A straightforward interpretation of the bible verse would suggest that the tethered are 'bringing evil upon' those above ground. A deeper analysis might suggest that the tethered are actually the ones unable to escape 'a great evil'. They are confined below ground without access to light, food, or fresh air, after all.
The number 11 also comes up more than once in Us. For instance, just before Red, Pluto, Umbrae, and Abraham attack, the clock in Jason's room reads 11:11.
11:11 is also a perfect mirror image of itself, like the shadow family.
What do the rabbits in Us symbolise?
In Us, the people in the tunnels eat raw rabbits every time their above ground counterparts have a meal. Different theories have tried to explain the symbolism behind the rabbits in Us.
One reddit theory notes that they might be a reference to Alice In Wonderland (i.e. down the rabbit hole). Other theories have tried to cast the rabbits as merely a sustainable food source for those in the tunnels (they procreate quickly and take up relatively little space).
In a Guardian interview, Jordan Peele sheds a little light on the rabbits of Us:
“They’re an animal of duality. They’re adorable but they terrify me at the same time. And they got those scissor-like ears that creep me out.”
Duality you say?
The single glove is a reference to Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson related imagery actually pops up more than once in the film (Adelaide was an 80s kid, after all). At the carnival she gets a Michael Jackson t-shirt and, when Red and her family show up, she is only wearing one glove, similar to the way Michael Jackson wore one glove back in the 80s.
In an interview with Mashable, Jordan Peele elaborated on this.
"Michael Jackson is probably the patron saint of duality," Peele told Mashable. "The movie starts in the '80s — the duality with which I experienced him [Jackson] in that time was both as the guy that presented this outward positivity, but also the "Thriller" video which scared me to death."
Lupita Nyong'o explained Red's unique voice
Red speaks in a low, uneven way which Us viewers undoubtedly found arresting.
While explaining the reason for this voice, Lupita Nyong'o told Variety that she was "inspired by the condition spasmodic dysphonia." Lupita went on to say that SD "is a condition that comes about from trauma, sometimes emotional, sometimes physical. It creates this spasming in your vocal cords that leads to an irregular flow of air.”
Some have criticised her connection of SD to the character, however, as it can be quite a devastating condition.
There is symbolism behind the red candy apple Adelaide is eating as a child.
You may have thought bible study was over with Jeremiah 11:11, but you were wrong.
Young Adelaide is eating a red candy apple when she goes missing. In art, film, and literature, red apples often symbolise knowledge. In chapter Genesis of the Bible, Eve gains "knowledge of good and evil" after eating the forbidden fruit (often depicted as an apple).
When Adelaide wanders off and is eventually dragged down to the tunnel, she gains knowledge of this dark society (evil) which exists tandem to the life she had above ground (relative good).
The red apple may also hint at why the tethered wear red jumpsuits.
Adelaide is shackled with the same handcuffs she tied up Red with.
When Red first attacks, she instructs Adelaide to 'tether herself to the table' with a pair of handcuffs. At the end of the film, it is understood that, when the fake Adelaide dragged the real Adelaide into the tunnels, she shackled her doppelgänger to the bed with a set of handcuffs.
Hands Across America symbolism explained
Hands Across America wasn't just some weird event that Jordan made up for the film. It actually happened. It took place in 1986 and sought to create a chain of people holding hands across the United States to raise awareness about homelessness. (It wasn't all that successful because America has, like, deserts and lakes and mountains)
In Us, the tethered recreate the stunt at the direction of Red, who orchestrates their uprising. Instead of being a nice charity event, their version of Hands Across America sees the tethered join the human chain after they have slaughtered their above ground counterparts. Red holds on to a lot of pop culture references from when she was a kid, including Michael Jackson and Hands Across America.
The ambulance was foreshadowed by the toy Jason uses to jam the door.
When Adelaide, Gabe, Zora, and Jason first arrive to the Santa Cruz house, Jason uses a toy ambulance to prop the closet door open while he is playing. At the end of the film, the family makes their escape via a real life ambulance.
Adelaide's off beat snapping is supposed to alert us to the fact that there is something wrong with her.
Many fans caught this in the trailer before the film actually came out. In the trailer for Us, Adelaide tells Jason to "get in rhythm", despite the fact that she herself is not in rhythm. This is the first clue that something is not quite right with Adelaide.
Us' "we're Americans" line explained
So, there's a bit of dialogue in Us that might have left you scratching your head. As the tethered are preparing to begin their attack, Adelaide asks "who are you?" Instead of saying something predictable like, "we're you", Red gives an usual response: "we're Americans."
Jordan Peele explained the meaning behind the "we're Americans" line to Empire.
"The imagery in this movie is based on my fear of the American society. I think Us can apply to anybody, human beings in general, your family, your country. And so for me, it was my country and the duality of our society.”
By now, you might have also clocked on to the fact that the movie's title, Us, can also be interpreted as US (United States).
After the way that Jordan talks about duality being a huge theme in Us, one might also consider the duality of America. Americans live in a reality where the image of "the land of the free and the home of the brave"is inconsistent with the legacy of slavery, mass incarceration, and institutionalised racism. In a sense there are two Americas. The one above ground, full of privilege, wealth, and opportunity. And the one below ground, where society is both separate and unequal.
Zora and Jason's shadows have names with specific meanings: Pluto and Umbrae
In Us, Jason's doppelgänger is named Pluto and Zora's is named Umbrae. The meanings behind the names Pluto and Umbrae are pretty fascinating.
Pluto is the Greek name for the God of the underworld. Umbrae, according to dictionary.com, is a word meaning "the darkest part of a shadow".
Us movie ending explained
In Us, we spend much of the movie believing that Adelaide had merely been traumatised by her tethered, Red.
When Red and Adelaide have their stand-off, however, it is explained that the real Adelaide was kidnapped and dragged into the tunnels as a child. The fake Adelaide assumes the real Adelaide's life above ground, which is why she is unable to speak for a time.
Meanwhile, Red holds on to memories and pop culture influences she experienced as a kid, including her red candy apple, Michael Jackson's one glove, and the Hands Across America concept. In an attempt to take back her life, Red is the one who influences the other tethered to go above ground.
In their showdown, the fake Adelaide is the stronger one and she kills Red.
At the very end, when the family is making their escape in the ambulance, Jason looks at his mother as though he has realised that she's not who she says she is. Fake Adelaide smirks, knowing she has killed her tethered once and for all.