‘Westworld’: What Does Trompe L’Oeil Mean?



Westworld is really capturing the attention and imagination of viewers everywhere. The show is climbing in the ratings and for good reason. Every episode introduces a new level of intrigue and new questions that fans are trying to decipher. Episode 7 is no exception. Even before the episode aired, there was one question already bothering some fans. What does the episode title, “Trompe L’Oeil,” mean?

Here’s what you need to know.

“Trompe-l’oeil” is a French word that means “deceive the eye.” It refers to art that creates an optical illusion that makes the objects look like they’re in three dimensions. This can be done in the form of a painting or drawing; it’s even been seen in sidewalk art.

The National Gallery of Art has an exhibition dedicated to five centuries of Trompe L’Oeil paintings. You can see photos from the exhibition here. The article here shows 25 examples of Trompe L’Oeil illusions.

The phrase can also refer to “forced perspective” used in stage theater that makes a set design have the illusion of being deeper than the stage actually is. A form of this is even used in the old Road Runner cartoons, where Wile E. Coyote painted a tunnel on a wall and the Road Runner ran into the fake tunnel.

So how does this relate to Westworld? Many theories abound. It could simply refer to the idea that the hosts are given a “forced perspective” that makes them appear 3D when, at least according to Robert Ford, they’re only 2D internally. Or it could mean that a host or something else at Westworld is hiding a secret and is not at all what it appears to be. What do you think the phrase means in terms of the show?

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