I’ve seen the Jordan Peele film NOPE three times. Each successive time, I discover something that I had not seen before. However, with all the possibilities for symbolism in the film, what stands out for me each time I’ve seen it is Peele’s use of a cloud as a focal point.
I have become fixated on the idea that the cloud symbolizes our fears. We think we’ll be sheltered from harm if we just don’t look at them straight on. We reason that if we just keep our heads down and pretend that we don’t see the thing that scares us, we might be saved.
Ultimately, one realizes that if you don’t look the thing that scares you in the eye, not only you, but those you love, will be destroyed.
No voice came from the cloud in NOPE as in the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, but some similarities and another difference struck me:
[The disciples] saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave…a cloud overshadowed them, and terror gripped them as the cloud covered them….When the voice [from the cloud] finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at the time what they had seen (Luke 9:32b-36, NLT, emphasis added).
While further reflecting on the film and Peele’s genius within this context, I found it particularly interesting that, while Jesus’ disciples “didn’t tell anyone.” By contrast, the characters in the film all seemed to want to get “the Oprah shot” in order to tell the world what they had seen for the profit they may receive.
Of the three main characters in the movie who were terrorized by the cloud, it was the brother, OJ, who was chosen to make the ultimate sacrifice. Emerald, the sister, was gifted with the Oprah shot. The guy from the camera store’s life was saved only by a fluke of luck.
Yet in the end, each one was alone.