Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Spirituality behind Jupiter Ascending



It is funny that after the second time I saw this film I have the urge to write another blog post. The previous post was a more general look at how the concept of deity is being secularised and that the wealthy elite of our world are being turned into gods, however after seeing this film a second time I suddenly realised that not only are there a lot of references to the UFO phenomena of the 1980s, but also a lot of references to Christianity. The movie in effect turns it into a cult religion that worships aliens.
So, the question is, why did I see this movie a second time? Well, first of all because I think that it is a pretty good movie. Okay, it gets a rating of 5.9 on IMDB (which isn't bad, but isn't that great either), but on Rotten Tomatoes it gets an absolute pasting (which is quite a shame because I quite liked the film). The other reason that I saw it a second time was because I knew that my brother would love it. After the credits had began to roll I turned to my brother and asked him what he thought, and he said 'pretty good'. So I guess in the end the opinion of the critics count for squat because all that matters is that my brother liked it.
Another thing I should quickly mention is that this is not a review of the film. If you would like to see my review it has been posted on IMDB (where all of my movie reviews have been posted). Rather, as I have suggested, this post is more of an exploration of some of the concepts that I have seen in the film the second time around. However, before I continue, here is a trailer:

 
Watching the trailer again I must say that I really liked the way that they did the ships, and the warp drive sequences, and there are a lot of scenes involving Mila Kunis falling great distances, but that is beside the point. However, before I continue I probably should outline the plot.

Synopsis (or Plot)
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an illegal Russian immigrant who was born on a cargo ship in the middle of the Atlantic as her her family were fleeing Russia for a new life in America. Her father has been brutally murdered when some thugs burst into their Moscow apartment to steal anything of value (including his telescope). Her name reflects her father's passion for astronomy and also his love of the planet Jupiter. Anyway, she lives with her extended family and spends her life cleaning the toilets of the rich and famous and her only wish in life is to own a telescope. However her cousin comes up with an idea of selling her eggs to a fertility clinic for $15000 with which she can purchase her telescope from her cut.
Unknown to Jupiter, she is the exact genetic recurrence of an ancient interstellar queen who had dominion over a number of planets, including the Earth. While she may not realise her true identity, the queen's three children of the royal house of Abrasax do. They happen to be fighting among themselves and each want Jupiter for their own purpose (expect for Balem Abrasax, who simply wants her dead because under the current will the Earth belongs to him). Thus, when Jupiter goes into the fertility clinic she discovers that she has been marked for death, but is rescued at the last minute by the genetically bred super-soldier Kane Wise (Channing Tatum).

Background
Okay, if you haven't seen the movie it is probably best to stop reading now because there are going to be a lot of spoilers. That said, I will say a few things about the background. The thing about the Earth is that they are not alone. In fact they are one of many millions of planets out in what is called 'The Verse'. However, the people of Earth did not develop on their own - they had a little help, thanks to the Abrasax. A hundred thousand years ago they discovered Earth, at a time when it was inhabited by dinosaurs, and decided that it would be of use. So they basically wiped all of the dinosaurs out and then seeded the planet with genetically engineered humans to grow and develop until the time was right to harvest them.

The reason that I use the word harvest is because the people of Earth, to the Abrasax and to the wider population of the Verse, exist only for one purpose - their genes. What the Abrasax do is that they wait until the population of a seeded planet reaches capacity and then they pretty much wipe them out. The reason they do this is so that they can then extract their genes, which they use to rejuvenate their own decaying body's, which in effect revitalises them, gives them eternal youth and immortality.


UFO Phenomena
There are quite a few references in Jupiter Ascending to the UFO phenomena that I grew up with in the 80s. Okay, I must admit that I was fascinated by the scene but gradually lost interest along with the rest of society. However, we see in Jupiter Ascending images such as the crop circles, the Greys, and humans being kidnapped by aliens for the purpose of being probed. While they do not necessarily need to be linked, the use of these images do work to reignite the imagination, especially those of us from the 80s who were fascinated with UFOs.

The crop circles were intricate patterns that would appear in crops around the world, and while there are some artificial creations, many of them still remain a mystery. There are theories ranging from weather patterns to the exhausts from alien ships to explain these strange effects. Even thirty years later many of us are still baffled as to their cause. However, according to the Wakowski's, these circles are created by the spaceships of house Abrasax as they visit Earth on a regular basis to monitor their populations.
 
Then there are the Greys, referred to in Jupiter Ascending as The Keepers. These aliens were originally popularised by Whitley Striber in his book Communion. Since then these aliens have been a mainstay of the modern science fiction horror scene and appearing regularly in shows such as 'The X-Files'. In many cases they are antagonists, however in some instances they are friendly and helpful. However the Wakowski's paint them in a much more sinister light as they happen to be connected to Balen Abrasex, and are the ones who have been charged with getting rid of Jupiter Jones.

As well as these two aspects there is also the myth that people are abducted by aliens and subjected to being probed before they are returned to Earth. Whether aliens exist or not is a moot point, but if they do I am not all that surprised that abductees would make such reports. The reason I say that is because if we were to find an alien then no doubt it would be requisitioned by the military and also undergo medical examinations which basically involve probing. However, in Jupiter Ascending people are also abducted by the Abrasax for the purpose of testing their genetic purity and they do this through, you guessed it - probing.


Angels & Demons
I was sort of wondering how the Sargorn, the draconian like creatures, all fitted into this UFO perspective when I realised that in a way they don't. What we have been looking at goes much further back than the UFO phenomena of the 1980s. In fact they go back to the medieval belief of angels and demons and the idea that demons were monstrous winged creatures. This is where the spiritual aspect of the film comes along because what is suggested is that the demons of legend are in fact visitations from the servants of house Abrasax. However there are other elements to be considered as well.

Consider that Earth is in effect a farm for House Abrasax which means that ever since the planet was first seeded Balem has been visiting the planet to make sure everything is going ahead nicely. The idea of humanity being created through a method of gene splicing suggests that the stories of the creation of man stem back to this event. In effect Balem Abrasax is no other than God - which is not surprising, at least in the Deist point of view, as he is distant, uncaring, lives in the heavens, and created humanity. Mayhaps there is also a suggestion of the rapture here as well because the plan is to return to Earth to harvest the population, and maybe there is a suggestion that a select few are able to escape (or is it just a lie created by him to keep the population ignorant, and as such less of a threat, which is why they seek to harvest the population when it grows too large because that also implies scientific advancement, and with scientific advancement comes the rejection of religion).
Consider this also: Balem Abrasax has a base located inside Jupiter which is accessed through the Red Spot. Thus we have what is in effect a space station that is surrounded by red gasses, that creates a red tinge, in which dwell the Sargorn. Could it not be that this place is a representation of hell. What about heaven? Is there a heaven? Well, it is true that it exists up in the stars, but when we travel there with Jupiter we discover that the society of the Verse is no different to that down on Earth. In fact the only place that comes close to being heaven is the planet that is harvested prior to Balem's interest in Earth, and that place has been destroyed.

Finally let us look at Caine Wise's character. He is an genetically engineered soldier that has been dismissed from the army for attacking a superior. Originally he had wings, however as part of his punishment these wings were removed. Okay, he is actually spliced with a wolf, however when the film comes to a close we discover that he has got his wings back, which we discover are that of a bird. As such, we now have our angel (though he hardly can be considered angelic).

Conclusion
So, I shall now bring this to a close and with that the movie (I told you there would be spoilers). So, Jupiter Jones has gained her inheritance, Balem is dead, the Earth has been saved, and we return to the beginning of the film where Jupiter has awoken at 4:45 am and is back cleaning the toilets of the wealthy. So, she has inherited the wealth of the Abrasax, has the universe at her fingertips, yet returns to cleaning toilets? Maybe there is a message in that for us, or was it just a dream.
Okay, the film is not that lame, but we have this godlike being who was willing to give everything up to save her family to simply return to her ordinary life because, well, that is much better than a life of adventure. Yet she is also in effect a god, however she has relinquished her godhood, and her chance at immortality to remain on Earth with the people she cares about. While she is a somebody, while she holds guardianship over the Earth and the Abrasax can no longer take charge of it, she has chosen the life of a mortal. Herein we have the final spiritual connection - Jupiter Jones is the Christ figure.

Creative Commons License
Spirituality behind Jupiter Ascending by David Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This license only applies to the text and any image that is within the public domain. Any images that are the subject of copyright are not covered by this license. Use of these images are for illustrative purposes only are are not intended to assert ownership. If use wish to use the creative commons part for commercial purposes, please contact me directly.

The following pictures Jupiter Ascending Title, Keepers, The Sargorn model, Caine Wise, are used under the fair use provisions of the copyright law of the United States of America. The use of these pictures are not meant to claim ownership of or title over, but to provide examples to the content of this blog. Any owner who does not wish the picture to be used in this context please contact me and the picture will be removed forthwith.

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