The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film) Imagery

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film) Imagery

Lush natural imagery

The film focuses on Italy's beauty through numerous shots of exquisite beaches and landscapes. Camera filters portray the scenes through a golden light, emphasizing the serene blue of the ocean. Over-the-shoulder shots illustrate the beautiful view that Tom observes from balconies and train windows. These shots emphasize notions of wealth and prosperity, as well as Tom's great love and admiration for Dickie's life of luxury.

Claustrophobic interior imagery

In contrast to the evocative images of the outside world in Italy, the interior of Tom's squalid New York flat is claustrophobic. The walls are painted a sterile white, and closeups of scratched walls and fraying carpets emphasize the dilapidated state of his apartment. This stark contrast to Dickie's world illustrates that Tom does not share Dickie's wealthy background, and is greatly envious. It also creates a strong sense of empathy, as we understand that Tom struggles financially. The claustrophobic interior furthermore represents Tom's feelings of entrapment and desire for better.


The film has numerous shots of ladders. This can be seen towards the beginning of the film when Tom first leaves his apartment, as well as when Tom and Dickie climb the stairs towards their luxurious house in Italy. Ladders are a significant symbol in the film, as they represent ascension, in particular, Tom's rise from low-brow to high-brow culture.

Expensive cars

Panning shots of accurate 1950s cars contribute to the realistic post-war setting of the play. In the film, there is a great emphasis on expensive cars, such as limosuines, painted in bright highly visible colours. This represents notions of luxury and wealth that are central to the film. It also introduces the idea of conspicuous consumption, that is, purchasing expensive items in order to impress others.

Statues of the Madonna

Throughout the film are numerous statues of the Madonna, the mother of Jesus. This is most prominent during the Italian Festival of the Madonna, where a slow-motion panning shot shows the statue rise from the water, its gaze fixed heavenward. These images form a large part of the religious overtones of the film. Religion is a key theme of the play, as it parallels the emphasis on human flaws and violence.


Costuming represents the class distinction in society. Tom Ripley wears a simple, button down shirt, indicative of his working-class background. By contrast, Dickie Greenleaf wears stylish and sophisticated coats and expensive jackets. Glasses are also an important aspect of costuming. Tom's glasses represent his social awkwardness and stratification from high society, as they are clumsy and awkward. When Tom pretends to be Dickie he is seen without glasses. In this way, we aware of Tom's mindset through whether or not he is wearing his classes, a clever plot device which differentiates between Tom and Dickie when the two become almost identical.

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