A story told by Plato in Book VII of The Republic to illustrate the superiority of information derived from reason to that derived from the senses. The allegory takes the form of a dialogue between the philosopher Socrates and Plato's older brother Glaucon. Socrates likens people who rely on their senses to a group of prisoners who have spent their entire lives chained inside a cave facing the blank back wall and unable to turn around. All they see before them are the shadows projected onto the wall by things passing in front of the cave entrance. These shadows of things are their only reality. In contrast, experiencing reason is likened to a prisoner escaping the cave into the full sensory richness of the world outside. The shadows on the wall are often used as a metaphor for the cinema (Baudry); the film The Matrix (1999) and its sequels can be seen as a cinematic variation.
http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.8.vii.html Book VII of Plato's Republic
Subjects: Media Studies.