The Fountain and the Road to Awe

The Fountain is a perfect example of the Pisces archetype on film. It’s a visionary love story about the quest for immortality that interweaves three parallel storylines that span a thousand years. This is probably Darren Aronofsky’s best film. It’s a work of art with stunning visuals, a glorious soundtrack and beautiful performances by the two leads, Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. 

It doesn’t look like any other film either. This is because the special effects were created using the macro photography of Peter Parks. He brewed bacteria and chemicals to create reactions and then filmed the results. So the spectacular images of space were actually shot in a Petri dish! 

Blade Runner – Part 2: Awakening to Humanity and Freedom

In part 1 we looked at how Blade Runner deals with the thorny issues of memory and identity. The film is deliberately ambiguous in how it presents the characters, both human and replicant, and that provides plenty of fuel for speculation. In this post, we’ll explore the humanity of the replicants and attempt to answer the ultimate question: Is Deckard a replicant? I shouldn’t need to warn you, but **!!Expect SPOILERS!!**  

Blade Runner – Part 1: Memory and Identity

Blade Runner is a great example of the Aquarius archetype on film. Based on the Philip K Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the story explores the nature of humanity and the way memories create identity. It flopped when it was first released in 1982, largely due to the unnecessary (and truly awful) voiceover and bizarre happy ending. But after being remastered and reissued, it’s become a classic that continues to provoke arguments over its central question. 

Logan: Violence and the Sharp End of Salvation

Logan is a surprisingly good example of the Capricorn archetype on film. The story follows Logan as he confronts the consequences of his past and learns to take responsibility for what he has become and protect the next generation of mutants. This may be the last time we see the old Wolverine in action and it’s a fitting and enjoyable send-off. 

Pi and the madness in the spirals of reality

Pi is a perfect example of Sagittarius on film. It explores the nature of reality and God through the language of mathematics and spirals. The story follows Max as he searches for patterns in the numbers underpinning reality and slowly losing his mind. It raises interesting questions about the dangers associated with the pursuit of truth and the line between genius and madness. 

Alien: Covenant – Lucifer in Space and Transhuman Hell

After my two part analysis of the symbolism of Prometheus earlier, it’s about time I followed up on my promise to tackle the sequel, Alien: Covenant. This film is more like the original Alien from 1979, but continues to explore some of the ideas presented in Prometheus. However, the many questions left hanging at the end of the previous film aren’t answered in Covenant and many more are raised instead. 

Michael Clayton: the price of truth, justice and morality

A perfect example of Libra on film can be found in Michael Clayton, a tense legal thriller that explores the nature of truth and justice and so much more. The film is even more relevant now than it was back in 2007 when it came out. The story follows Michael Clayton, a fixer who cleans up messes for a legal firm and their rich clients, as he seeks redemption in an ethical wasteland. 

Stranger Than Fiction: Death and Taxes, and the Meaning of Life

Stranger Than Fiction is a perfect example of the Virgo archetype on film. It’s a modern fable about the interconnectivity of life and the power of stories and literature. The story follows Harold Crick, a taxman who lives a very ordered life until his wristwatch decides to stir things up a bit. The film is quite surreal, but gentle and sweet-natured – just like Harold. 

The Fisher King: Forgiveness and the Quest for Redemption

In the post on Leo Myths we looked at the quest for meaning in the story of the Holy Grail. The fulfilment of this quest is the healing of the Fisher King and that brings us to the 1991 film by Terry Gilliam. The Fisher King is a comedy-drama about Jack Lucas, a misanthropic DJ and his unlikely friendship with a homeless man called Parry. 

mother! – God, Creativity, and Pesky Humans

A perfect example of the Cancer archetype on film is mother! – a mind-bending Gnostic creation myth stuffed with Biblical metaphors and Kabbalistic symbolism. It’s a home invasion story told from the perspective of Mother Earth and was inspired by the children’s book The Giving Tree. The film was marketed as a horror movie but only to prepare audiences for the onslaught of the harrowing final act. It plays as a fever dream or nightmare and isn’t easy to watch, but Darren Aronofsky, the director, says it’s a wake-up call to humanity. You’re supposed to feel uncomfortable watching mother! 

Doctor Strange: Time and the Meaning of Life

Doctor Strange deals with various Gemini/Mercury themes including magic, healing, the confrontation with the shadow, and the shamanic journey between dimensions. It’s another superhero origins story – a classic hero’s journey with an added dash of ‘Hollywood metaphysics’ plus kaleidoscopic visuals based on fractal geometry and Escher. It looks fantastic and is best seen on the big screen (and in 3D, if you can stomach it – I can’t!). 

Chocolat: Healing the Past and Making Life Sweeter

A perfect example of Taurus on film can be found in Chocolat, a light-hearted fable that makes your mouth water just watching it. Like all good films, it’s about many things: religious belief v atheism, feminism, inclusion, temptation, and what it means to live a good life. It’s a tale of freedom and longing, forgiveness and compassion, and the need for self-acceptance and healing. The story follows Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk, who travel from place to place, selling chocolates and bringing change to the people they encounter. 

Wonder Woman: the Descent and Return of the Goddess

In my post on Aries Myths we met the Sumerian battle goddess Inanna: a fertility goddess and force of nature with roots that extend back into prehistory. She’s not a figure you would expect to pop up in a Hollywood movie, but then along came Wonder Woman. Unlike many superhero movies, it isn’t afflicted with the snark bug. There’s no nihilistic banter or ironic asides. Wonder Woman is an enjoyable film with a positive, life-affirming message. 

Prometheus: the Alchemy of Space Aliens – Part 2

In part 1 we looked at how Prometheus can be interpreted as a gnostic creation myth and met some of the characters. In this post we’ll look at some of the other symbolism in the film, including the secret of immortality and the alchemy of creation. As always, EXPECT SPOILERS!!

Prometheus: the Alchemy of Space Aliens – Part 1

As part of my occasional series on mystical and gnostic themes in film, I thought it would be a good time to tackle Prometheus, what with Alien: Covenant in cinemas as I write this. Prometheus is part of the franchise that began in 1979 with Alien, the classic horror film directed by Ridley Scott, and is a prequel to the entire series. Some criticised the film for being too philosophical and not living up to the terrors of Alien, but Prometheus was never meant to be just another monster movie. 

Assassin’s Creed: a film confused by its Gnostic roots

The film adaptation of the Ubisoft game Assassin’s Creed had some intriguing possibilities in its mythology so I checked it out. There’s a lot of hoo-ha around the problem of video games making bad movies and many people were optimistic about this film breaking that streak. I don’t care about that – I’m not a gamer and haven’t played the game. Unfortunately, the film might have made more sense if I had. 

Fantasy Reading List: 2001 – A Space Odyssey

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? 2001: A Space Odyssey was written at the same time as the film was in development. Arthur C Clarke and Stanley Kubrick collaborated on the story, and the book was published after the film was released, although they differ in detail and in mood. The book has many themes, exploring the use and abuse of technology and the perils of evolution and progress. Arthur C Clarke ponders the evolution of mankind and the possibility of transhumanism, and asks questions about what it means to be conscious and the pain of self-awareness. 

I enjoyed the book, although it’s obvious that Clarke is more interested in the ideas and potentials of the technology than in the characters, which were undeveloped and not very dimensional. It felt a little bloodless, but there may be a good reason for that, as we’ll see. 

Fantasy Reading List: American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a multi-award winning fantasy novel that mashes up ancient and modern mythology and mixes it with mystery and some gruesome horror. I read the author’s preferred text, which expands on the original, and found it disturbing, funny, thought provoking, and hugely enjoyable. I’m going to dig into the book and explore some of the ideas I had while reading it, so expect spoilers! 

Like any good book, American Gods is about many things. On one level, it can be read as a story about storytelling. It’s a huge rambling novel where people and gods tell each other stories that layer up into a larger, mythical tale about the power of stories and imagination and how they shape our reality, and the dangers inherent in that process. 

How to Blurb: Writing a book description that sells

A blurb can sometimes mean a short review quoted on a book cover, but in this post we’re going to look at the other kind of blurb: the book description. The blurb is your sales pitch, printed on the back of your book or quoted on its sales page online. It’s the second most important thing, after the cover, when it comes to selling your book.