When you think of motifs in film, you probably think of the main theme or idea that is being expressed throughout the movie. These themes are often expressed through recurring elements such as symbols, colors, sounds and more.

Motifs in movies can be used to tie together a variety of different scenes and images, as well as bring to light a deeper meaning behind the story itself.

While motifs do have a lot of power in movies, they can also be used in other forms of art such as literature, plays, and music.

If you’ve ever wondered what is a motif in film? Then keep reading for a look at some of the most common examples out there!

What Is a motif

What Is a motif?

A motif is any image or symbol that recurs throughout a story or film. These can be as overt as a repeated line of dialogue, or as subtle as a color scheme. A film’s theme is often reflected through its motifs.

The most important thing to remember about motifs is that they aren’t always obvious.

It’s not enough for you to point out an image or symbol and say, “That’s a motif!” That symbol has to recur throughout that piece of work and have some significance within the context of the story or film.



What Is A Motif?

A motif, in film, is something that shows up throughout a movie and has a specific meaning.

There are many different types of motifs that can be found in films. A symbolic motif is when something appears at several different times during the film to show a connection between the characters or to foreshadow what happens later.

For example, if the main character is walking through a dark field and she trips over a rock or branch four times before tripping once more and getting hurt there may be symbolism hidden inside this seemingly normal event.

Motif vs Theme

Ever had that moment where you’re staring at your work and thinking “I wish this was different but I can’t figure out how to change it?” The answer is changing your motif! Motifs reside in the shadow layer. They are not be the basis of your composition, but rather accents.

Changing the motif allows us to change the design of the entire illustration without losing our original color palette or overall layout. Let’s see how we can take advantage of this feature!

In the same way, you may use a motif or theme (e.g., three similar objects) to decorate your home, you may also use a motif or theme when outlining your paper.

The motif of storytelling is essentially the same across all mediums. However, the themes present in a story can vary greatly, depending on the number of characters and plots for the story and how the writer chooses to portray them.

A story can have one theme or many themes that support each other, known as compound themes. For example, “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman contains 4 major themes: love and acceptance, death, humility and virtue.

Motif vs Metaphor

If you’re reading this post, chances are you already know that a motif is a repeated element that stands for something in the text. (A metaphor, by contrast, is a direct comparison between two things.) But when you call our Motif vs Metaphor infographic out loud—motifvsmetaphor.com—you see the word motif appear twice,

which is awfully close to synonymous. That opens up an entirely different reading of the infographic. You might ask yourself: How common is it for writers to use the same word to mean two different things? What does it say about the writers who do this? And why would readers want to choose this kind of experience for themselves?

If you are not sure of the difference between a motif and a metaphor, don’t worry. They look very similar in form or shape. But there is an important difference – their meaning. While a metaphor directly makes an analogy or comparison between two things that seem related but are not really connected,a motif is simply another way of describing a repeated element in literature. For example, Romeo and Juliet both have to deal with enemies because of their love. That is a metaphor – one thing (their love) is compared to another (their enemies). Romeo and Juliet both drink poison on the night they are married – that is a motif.

It is something that happens over and over again in the play with the same meaning each time, like the use of the color red when it comes to love or death.

Motif Examples In Movies

Discover everyday motif examples in movies. It is a movie like an unforgettable event. Motifs are running themes that appear throughout the story and carry meaning of their own.

To be defined as a motif, an element must appear three times in the narrative. In this hub, I have collected 20 motif examples from famous movies.

Below is a list of movies that use motifs in their fictional narrative. The list is ordered by year and title, first by English name and then by the original language title.

What are motifs? Basically, they’re repeated elements and images that help to strengthen the theme of a work in literature. In this lesson, I’m going to show graphic examples of motifs from famous movies.

The Ten Commandments (1956) The Ten Commandments is a 1956 American epic film in VistaVision, produced, directed and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille, shot in Technicolor and Widescreen (2.20:1), and released by Paramount Pictures.

It was the first feature-length Hollywood production filmed in the widescreen process VistaVision. The film stars Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Rameses II. It features an ensemble cast, including Yul Brynner, Edward G. Robinson, Anne Baxter, Debra Paget, John Derek, Cedric Hardwicke, Nina Foch, Martha Scott, Judith Anderson, Vincent Price, and Henry Wilcoxon

What Is A Motif In WWII Films?

The motif in WWII films is the use of a symbol, sound, or other device to create an impression of a character or an idea. The motifs used in WWII films set the tone of the scene and are specific to each film. The style of the motif was created through repetition so you start to get familiar with how the movies are going to be portrayed.

The motifs were used to keep the audience interested, no matter what kind of film it was.

A motif is a recurring element that conveys ideas in a film. It is something repeated frequently, either visually or verbally.

In the case of a WWII film, the motifs would be things such as tanks, warships, submarines, soldiers, and so forth. For example in the movie Patton, there were many scenes with tanks used to advance on enemy forces.

In 1942, a group of writers and directors known as the “Hollywood Ten” refused to cooperate with the House Committee on Un-American Activities, leading to their imprisonment for contempt of Congress.

In response, other film companies, producers, actors and directors established the “Committee for the First Amendment” to defend those who were being persecuted by the HUAC.

What’s A Motif In Fantasy Films?

A motif in film (subgenres of fantasy, like Middle-earth) is a device which is used for artistic effect. It might be an object or place that has special meaning in the story. A motif could also be a character who always does something in a certain way, or a recurring idea or symbol.

Many motifs in fantasy films are magical in nature, focusing on magic and elements like dragons, wizards and royalty. Some of the more frequent motifs include horses, swords, trees and cauldrons.

Motif is a common theme or pattern of events that is prevalent throughout a story. Examples including, in Avatar the motif was the conflict between humans and naturals while in Clash of the Titans they had a motif based on the conflict between mankind and gods. In Star Wars, the motif was the victory at all costs theme throughout the trilogy.

How Filmmakers Define Motif

Motif is a familiar and powerful tool used by filmmakers to convey emotions without words. This list breaks down how sixteen of the masters of cinema use music and visual elements to define motif.

Filmmakers have used motifs in all phases of filmmaking; it is still used in movies today. No matter what their level is they will use motif to communicate a story in a captivating manner.

Whether building a film on a character or an object, motif plays an important role in creating meaning. Motifs can help writers reinforce an idea to the audience and create more complex characters. This article explains the role of motif in terms of filmmaking, including examples from popular movies soundtracks like Star Wars and Matrix.


In film, a motif is a recurring symbol, object, pattern or expression that has particular meaning to the filmmaker. In literature, a motif is something that recurs at important points in a story. Here you can see how filmmakers use motifs in their storytelling, and learn more about three classic examples.

How Is A Motif Different From Theme?

Our Motifs are a collection of different WordPress themes that all share a singular focus on the display of content. Like a collection of stories, our designers have carefully crafted how different elements work together to create premium looking and functional websites, it’s their “motif” if you will.

Really, it’s pretty hard to tell just by looking at a motif and a theme. The elements that make up a good one are the same. There are both narrative and visual ones, which help the reader understand what they’re getting into while also drawing their interest as far as telling the story goes.

There’s more introduction than recapping of what has been done, and more talking about characters than previous tasks and acting. While motifs can do all this, they are much shorter in length than themes.

Compared to a theme, a motif is used in order to create a wider variety of options.

A theme has a specific set of content that you choose from, such as animals, fairy tales, Disney characters, etc. A motif can be based on one of these themes but contains many different patterns. If you want a lot of options for something like an invitation or holiday party, you would use a motif instead of a theme.

How Is Motif Different From Metaphor?

We all have our own interpretation of the definition of “motif”. We’ve found that descriptions and definitions found on the web are very circular, and don’t help us much in understanding it better. Here is a simple way to understand the difference between motifs and metaphors.

The idea behind Motif is that it allows users to customize components of a picture and build their own user interface. This works very similar to the process of creating a metaphor — you can build up a UI from existing basic control elements, then adapt and modify them as needed.

When designing a picture, Motif retains the ability to layer parts and access properties at an individual level, by having them all available in the same container.

What’s the difference between motif and metaphor? While both can be used to make writing more interesting, they each serve different purposes. Motif is a pattern, or underlying idea, that reoccurs in the text while metaphor compares two unlike things.For example, at Motif examples, you could write:  It was a long day of work. We went to bed exhausted and emotionally drained like after a long day at work…  In this example we see the recurring idea of being physically tired that is compared to being emotionally tired.

Motifs Examples In Film And Literature

Motifs, or recurring thematic elements, are one of the most fascinating elements a writing teacher can encounter, and in this book, you’ll discover how crucial motifs are to both film and literature.

Not only will you learn why writers use motifs, but you will also explore many different types of motifs, including objects and symbols that create meaning as well as wonderful literary devices such as anaphora and prosopopoeia.

This accessible resource is sure to help you develop a deeper understanding of how motifs provide context, enhance characterization, and give writing an emotional layer.

We can easily distinguish the work of Stanley Kubrick from that of John McTiernan from that of Francis Ford Coppola just by viewing their films. Similarly, we can identify the tone and style created in a literary novel or short story in part to the use of motifs.

How The Film Jojo Rabbit Works With Motifs

The Film Jojo Rabbit is a motion picture set to be released in 2019. Starring Craig Robinson and Scarlett Johansson, the film tells the tale of a young German boy named Jojo who finds a magical Adolph Hitler sock that transports him back in time where he becomes Hitler’s doppelganger.

(I know, weird right?) During his travels into WW2-era Germany, Jojo meets an odd cast of characters including a tenacious young hobo named Sam Weissman and his girlfriend Lotte Herz. Surely enough this hijinks ensues.

The characters in Jojo Rabbit are a direct extension of the original novel in which they were first introduced.

In order to stop the madness, these characters must be fully fleshed out and ripe for production as film–which leads us to motifs. To make these characters as real as possible, we must first understand their importance in context with the plot of this film.

It invites us inside their daily lives. We see their home, their table, the things they eat, their clothes and accessories. Scenes are set in the woods to show the war experience and then in a sunny country to communicate peace.

The camera sometimes zooms in to reveal a vase or detail, a motif that is repeated several times around the film in order to create harmony and consistency on Jojo Rabbit’s universe. This review will analyse its use of motifs in order to demonstrate how important they are when creating a film’s narrative.

How To Build Motifs In Your Film

This video tutorial will lead you step-by-step on how to build a motif: a process used by master filmmakers to create deeper meaning in their films.You will learn first how to recognize and choose the most suitable motif for your film, then how to apply it through everything from characters and situations, to filming styles and important details like camera lenses and editing. With this new knowledge at your disposal, you can create a meaning-rich film that keeps the audience wondering, long after they’ve left the theater.

If you love films like Amelie, then this one is for you! In this clever book, author Stephanie Cairns takes the reader through her process of motif building, explaining how to find inspiration in everyday life and translate it into a cohesive universe that your audience can be immersed in.

Filled with beautiful illustrations and an analysis of popular movies like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Amelie, How To Train Your Dragon, and more, this book also features a handy chapter on creating your first motif project.

Every film is made up of different motifs that are developed and repeated throughout the length of the footage. Great filmmakers have always had a knack for this, and you can too by following our simple instructions in this book.