"Moving Pictures Silent Films" as written by and Anthony Dekker....
Oh wake me please when this is over
Oh when the ice is melted away
And the hunger returns
I will feel the same but older
And I'll be twice the man that I thought I was

Where have you been?
And what have you done?

I've been under the ground
Reading prayers from this old book I found
Under the ground
Saving it up
And spending it all
On moving pictures
Silent films
Moving pictures
Silent films

Oh is this the dream I've been saving?
Oh where the heart beats slower and slower
To almost nothing
Almost nothing
Almost nothing

I took care for longer
At least something beautiful
Out there in the spotlight
But turned around softly
Turned around squinting

It's all they heard was headlights
And then the truth
The truth was unbearable
Oh and imminent
Bearing down on these two shadowed animals

Called painting a dotted line
Called painting a dotted line

Where have you been?
And what have you done?

I've been under the ground
Reading prayers from this old book I found
Under the ground
Saving it up
And spending it all
On moving pictures
Silent films
Moving pictures
Silent films


Lyrics submitted by olllen, edited by egmaes, JAlPrufrock

"Moving Pictures Silent Films" as written by Anthony Dekker

Lyrics © NETTWERK MUSIC GROUP

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Moving Pictures Silent Films song meanings
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30 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI don't believe that this song is specifically about a relationship. The singer seems to be suffering from a more fundamental pain -- some sort of existential crisis.

    The lyrics are a pretty clear reference to Plato's cave (as someone already pointed out.) Remember in Plato's allegory of the cave, he imagined a cave in which a group of people were restrained facing the cave wall. They were unable to move their heads or turn around. Behind the prisoners Plato imagined a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners, various objects (animals, people, plants, etc.) moved back and forth. These objects in turn cast a shadow on the wall of the cave in front of the prisoners. The prisoners were only able to apprehend a shadow of what was actually occurring around them. One thing Plato meant to suggest was that with our limited senses and limited abilities to comprehend the world with our minds, what we perceive and what we believe we know is actually something very different from the Truth.

    The singer in "Moving Pictures" is playing with some of these ideas. First, the title of the song refers to Plato's cave. A film is, like the shadows on the wall, a mere glimmer of reality. It's an illusion.

    The lyrics refer to the cave as well. He's trapped underground, but at some point he is able to turn around. He sees a set of headlights (the fire) "bearing down on shadow animals," and he realizes that he is seeing the unbearable truth. Plato imagined that some people would find the truth too difficult to tolerate, and after having seen it they would be compelled to again face the wall. So it seems with the singer. The truth of the light is unbearable for him; he'd rather perceive the shadows.

    What makes the song great is not the reference to Plato's cave, but how it adds an element of desperation in the singer's realization that he has not been perceiving the truth and that he would rather remain in a fantasy. While his prayerbook might help him face the truth, he would prefer to eat its pages to satisfy his worldly hunger. For him, God and prayer are useless. He is hopelessly trapped in a world of shadow.
    vorsipellison January 24, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI listened to the cbc radio session for Great Lake Swimmers, and this song was described as a "song about hibernation", so maybe it is a little more literal than one might think. It's a beautiful song nonetheless. Leaves you wondering why the person went into hibernation. I can see the romance angle too, but in a different way. Hiding from a lover, then returning to them with even more love and adoration...
    kayla_01on December 22, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOh and I think some of the words here are wrong. I'm pretty sure these are right corrections, i could be wrong. I just did it cuzz some of the words are important to teh meaning of the song.

    and maybe twice the "man" than i thought i was...
    spenind it all "on" moving films, silent pictures.....
    will the heart "beat" slower and slower..................
    But i took "it" for "love" or at least something beautiful...
    I'm "there in" the spotlight.................................
    "I" turned around "suddenly...............................
    turned around "squinting"..................................
    Bearing down "on".............................................
    "completing the dotted line"...............................
    kev404on June 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthmmm... A relationship actually?! A relationship that is worn. Maybe even they are living side by side there is so much cross-purposes. And they actually asking themselves where this should end.

    I love how the piano just puts the song onto a kind of another (melancholic) level.
    elfpoweron December 22, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI haven't thought about htis approach yet, but it sounds good! They split for a time coherent with hibernation and after that they return. It seems like to the singer all the feelings appear as silent films. Like a cut through all what had happend while the have been together.
    I like the CBC-Sessions a lot. They're like butter on my toast. Oh Canada ;)
    elfpoweron December 23, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMemories often dont come with sound. I feel that the writer has lost a great love and is spending all his energy in being complacent and alone and remembering what he had.
    kev404on June 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe lyrics are way off. Love the song, though.
    a town like parison July 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh wake me please when this is over,
    oh when the ice has melted away
    and a hunger returns;
    I will be the same but older
    and maybe twice the man that I thought I was.

    Where have you been and what have you done?
    I've been under the ground
    eating prayers from this old book I found,
    under the ground.
    Saving it up and spending it all
    on moving pictures, silent films,
    moving pictures, silent films.

    Oh is this the dream I've been saving?
    Oh will the heart beat slower and slower?
    To almost nothing, almost nothing, almost nothing.

    I took it for love or at least something beautiful.
    I'm there in the spotlight.
    I turned around suddenly,
    turned around denting
    so the air was headlights.
    And then the truth,
    the truth was unbearable,
    Oh and dimmer then,
    bearing down all,
    these two shadow animals:
    come painting the dotted line,
    come painting our dotted line
    come painting the dotted line.

    Where have you been and what have you done?
    I've been under the ground
    eating prayers from this old book I found,
    under the ground.
    Saving it up and spending it all
    oh moving pictures, silent films,
    moving pictures, silent films.
    a town like parison July 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust came across this site and I still think there are some incorrect suggestions for the words. I must admit that he's hard to understand but I think this is what he actually says:

    Oh wake me please when this is over
    Oh when the ice has melted away
    And the hunger returns
    I will be the same but older
    And maybe twice the bear that I thought I was

    Where have you been and what have you done
    I've been under the ground
    Eating prayers from this old book I found
    Under the ground
    Saving it up and spending it all
    On moving pictures, silent films
    Moving pictures, silent films

    Or is this the dream I've been saving?
    Oh where the heart beats slower and slower
    To almost nothing...
    Almost nothing...
    Almost nothing...

    I took it for love or at least something beautiful
    Out there in the spotlight
    I turned around suddenly
    Turned around squinting
    And saw that it was headlights
    In them the truth
    The truth was unbearable
    Oh and (iminent??)
    Bearing down on these two shadow animals
    Car painting a dotted line
    Car painting a dotted line
    Car painting a dotted line

    Where have you been and what have you done?
    I've been under the ground
    Eating prayers from this old book I found
    Under the ground
    Saving it up and spending it all
    On moving pictures, silent films
    Moving pictures, silent films

    If I were to venture what the song means I'd say that it's a statement on our society and where we're at and going to. We're entertainment driven and many of us prefer to live our lives in movies and games (moving pictures, silent films) where we don't have to face the facts and truth of life and its meaning (the truth was unbearable). We're falling asleep and preferring to sleep in our mind-numbing entertainment while our lives pass away. Anyway, that's my stab at the meaning of the song.

    Let me know if you agree on the lyrics I've posted...I'm still not quite sure on the "car painting a dotted line" part but it seems to fit with the context so I'm inclined to think those are the actual words.
    Elamenoon July 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just listened again and in retrospect I think that "a town like paris" is correct with the "Oh and dimmer then" line.
    Elamenoon July 24, 2006   Link

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