The idea of secret societies just lends itself to thrilling cinema, doesn’t it? Clandestine gatherings in concealed locations, covert motivations for underground activities, betrayal and treachery lurking behind every shadowy corner – it’s all fertile ground for compelling storytelling. Indeed, secret societies have been the bedrock of gripping cinematic drama and thrills for a very long time, spawning movies that have spanned genre, style and level of success.
In more recent years, the use of secret societies in movies seems to have taken on a much more functional role, however – being used more specifically to highlight themes of social injustice, and corruption. These movies appeal to our more suspicious sensibilities, often reflecting the mainstream media narrative of the need to beware an enemy hiding in plain sight.
With this message having reached fever pitch in the current political climate to the point of generalized fear-mongering and xenophobia, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the most memorable instances of secret societies gracing the silver screen, and examine what they tell us about ourselves and our world – both good, and bad.