Religious Symbolism In ‘Cool Hand Luke’

‘Cool Hand Luke’ is a 1967 film about a former soldier who is sent to jail for taking the heads off of parking meters. This film is famous for it’s use of religious metaphors and symbolism and one of the greatest lessons ever taught from a film. Think you saw a religious metaphor or symbol in the film and want to know if there are more? See all of them in a list below with explanations.

  • His name is Luke, like the apostle, Luke.
  • Luke’s prisoner number is 37. In the Book Of Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible”.
  • In the fight with Dragline, Luke is shown with the sun behind his head, as if an aura over his head.
  • Luke ate fifty eggs. There were fifty prisoners. He was a martyr and absorbed all of their sins.
  • After eating the eggs and being left on the table, he is sprawled out on the table like Jesus.
  • When the man with no eyes is walking down the road as it is being covered with dirt after being tarred. The dirt goes right by his feet, like when the palm trees being thrown at the feet of Jesus.
  • Luke says “Stop feeding off me!” at one point. Later in the film, when he is given a crapload of food as a punishment, the other inmates start helping him by eating his food or ‘feeding off of him’, like the sacrament of Holy Communion.
  • Luke has to dig his own whole and is thrown inside as if it is his grave, like Jesus had to carry his own cross.
  • When Luke is lying in the hole after being ‘broken’, he cries out to God asking for help, to which the head warden or the ‘God of the prison camp’ comes up and says “Come on out son” to say that in a way, God answered his prayers, just the wrong God.
  • After being let out of the hole and he goes back to his bunk, the other inmates shun him since he finally gave into the bosses of the camp and they offer Luke no help at all but they just cry or are sad. Just like Jesus when he was worshipped all of those years, then when he is forced to carry his cross then is put on the cross, no one tries to help him at all, instead they cry and are saddened that their hero let them down.
  • When the photo of him with the women is being put back together, it is ripped in the shape of a cross.
  • At the end with the zoom out of the inmates working on the road, the four rodes join at each other in the shape of a cross.

The allegory to the story being that we should not trust false prophets or gods or idolize people or anything but God.

For Our Review Of ‘Cool Hand Luke’, Click HERE.

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