Aside from using color, sounds, and music as emotion and cinematic language, Anderson features other visual forms of expression through symbolism.

Perhaps the most notable uses of visual symbolism as expression lies within a key element of the film: the harmonium. There are several interpretations that can be made for the meaning of the harmonium, all of which the film supports, but above all it represents of a symbol of love, or more notably the love shared by Barry and Lena. Like love, the harmonium suddenly arrives to Barry and he slowly learns to play it. The harmonium suffers tears after Barry gets into trouble with the phone sex operation. However it is in the lovely final shot of the film which establishes the connection of love and the harmonium as Lena tells Barry "So here we go" and holds him, while he is playing the harmonium in-sync with Jon Brion's beautiful score.


The harmonium is visually expressed as a connection of Lena and Barry. Notice several examples in the way Anderson frame the composition in particular scenes with Barry and Lena. When Barry first meets Lena as she drops off her car, the harmonium is framed (in a distance) between the two. This is also evident in the scene when his sister Elizabeth brings Lena to Barry's office, as the harmonium is again framed between the two, visually expressing a connection. This is also captured emotionally for Barry, who at the end of the film realizes, as he tells Dean "the love in his life that makes him stronger then anything you can imagine" his connection with both Lena and the harmonium (or the relationship).

One other interesting moment in which the harmonium is shown as visual or emotional expression of love is as a potentially lost or abandon relationship. This is subtly expressed in the first sequence with Dean "The Mattress Man" Trumbell. As he is giving the four blonde brothers the instructions to go after Barry, a harmonium can briefly be seen in the frame. However it is shown in poor or old condition. Could this represent a former love/relationship for Dean? Perhaps this is why he understands Barry's "strength" and does not confront him at the end, as he once felt the love Barry has for Lena.


The harmonium arrives to Barry through a red taxi, which drops it off directly in front of him in the street. This happens immediately after a red car flips and rolls over. Much like the mystery of the harmonium, this sudden crash is let open for some interpretations (most of which are supported in various ways by the film, even including some odd theories about outer space- which will be discussed more in Part IV). What it does is share the expression of the harmonium, as the crash perhaps represents the sudden arrival of love or a change in Barry's isolated and entrapped physical and emotional state.


One of the key elements of the film is Barry's emotional and physical state, which is generally expressed through the use of colors (As described previously in Part II: Colors, Sounds, and Music). Barry is often found closed or trapped (emotionally and physically) within his own loneliness. Lena represents a change and feeling of freedom and ultimately of love. It is the supermarket as well as Hawaii which represents a feeling of hope and possibility for Barry and Anderson expresses this through the visual imagery of the film. Notice how open and bright the frame and composition is within the supermarket and Hawaii. This expresses Barry's feelings of possibility, and heavily contrasts with his everyday work and home environment of isolation.

This expression is also subtly captured in two contrasting sequences of the composition. First we see Barry at his work environment being cornered and "nagged" by his sister. In the middle of the frame, Anderson displays a picture that appears to be of his office building. Now this would seem very minor, but when contrasted with a later scene we see that this is consciously placed here as a form of expression. Contrast the picture at the office with the picture placed in the middle of the frame when Barry and Lena are out to dinner. Where the picture with his sister at the office is a closed-in and uninspiring one of his own office building, the picture with Lena is free and open. Through subtle use of composition, Anderson captures the contrast of Barry's emotional state and how his feelings for Lena represent hope, possibility, and love.


Another visual symbol expressed in Punch-Drunk Love is Anderson's use of long haul 18-wheeler trucks, which are commonly known for their endless traveling. While they could be a symbol for Lena, who is always traveling, ultimately the use of trucks are captured as an emotional expression of longing. The longing of two lonely souls who are traveling or searching for connection and love.

The trucks are visually shown in a variety of different ways. A couple examples include the moment when Barry takes the harmonium into his office, as a truck crashes past him as if it's telling him to take it. Or (as mentioned previously in Part II) the red truck that Barry runs toward when he leaves to Hawaii. Also, in one of the most beautiful shots in the film: as Barry and Lena leave the restaurant together a truck is shown driving by them slowly. Not only is the truck's brakes playing alongside Brion's score, but as it passes Barry and Lena, a slogan can be read which seems to be talking to them: "Relocation at it's best!".


The film opens with an expressive shot that captures the emotional and physical state of Barry's character. It also contains two other elements that are used as visual symbols: the phone and pudding, which each share a similar expression. The pudding is something that gives Barry's isolation and loneliness an escape or meaning. Ultimately however the pudding is a connection to Lena and to love which is Barry's redemption. It is the pudding (through the discovery of the Frequent Flyer Miles promotion) which gives Barry his freedom and opportunity to travel, and above all to be with Lena.

The phone is also displayed as a connection to the outside world for Barry, who's emotional and physical state is one of entrapment, isolation, and loneliness. He is tortured by his seven sisters on the phone. Also, when he is canceling his credit card he ask the woman her name and then says "it's nice to meet you", and when he arrives in Hawaii he first asks for a phone. He even uses the phone as his source of sex and calls a phone-sex hotline. Above all the phone presents an escape for Barry's loneliness, and may even be a symbol for his loneliness. When he goes to confront Dean in Utah, Barry is seen holding a phone. After he gets Dean to say "That's that", Barry walks out, but before doing so he hands the phone to one of Dean employees. This is an expression of Barry's redemption and the end of his loneliness. Notice the music playing in the background at this moment. The title of the song is, Lonely Blue Boy, which is used as an ironic metaphor, as Barry is no longer a "lonely blue boy".


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