Cinemascope
Last month's silver screen stars
March 2009

Cinemascope, by Vesna Ivkovic

The Cinemascope is meant to give an overview of current movies and their main themes from an astrosemiotical perspective (i.e.: regarding film as semiotic system and translating it into the astrological semiotic system). A well made movie not only has a story and a certain theme, it also provides a special atmosphere, a certain feeling and it draws us into its very own world. This basic quality that is contrived through characters, plot, setting and many other components also translates into one or more astrological principles. Quite simply: a fast-paced action-flick confronts us with plain Aries energy, a horror-movie evokes Scorpio-like abysmal depths and fears etc. We step out of the theatre and – if the film succeeded in sucking us in – find ourselves dwelling on and engaging in that special energetic quality.


The WrestlerMarch, month of Pisces and Aries, commenced with a remarkable film, that mirrors the qualities of those signs in both setting and plot. Leading man Mickey Rourke plays the role of his life in Aronofsky’s The Wrestler: the aging wrestling-star Randy “The Ram”, a leo-character (despite the nick-name), who – hungry for appreciation and love – truly comes to life only on stage, under the spectators’ cheers and admiration. Wrestling itself combines Pisces- and Aries-quality as it shows the illusion of fighting. The combination also shows in the desperate struggle of the Leo-character for a suitable life: he’s fighting against illness and the fading of his strength, against loneliness and the loss of social status, against becoming a nobody.

96 hoursThis month we can find more – and stronger – Aries-energy in two very different, of course action packed movies.
In Taken, a genre-flick from the French action-factory around Luc Besson (Transporter, Banlieue 13), an ex-CIA-agent (Liam Neeson) has to find and rescue his seventeen year old daughter, who had been abducted by an Albanian white slaver organization while spending a holiday in Paris – lots of action and well choreographed fight-sequences are understood.

Edward Zwick, director of epic adventures like Blood Diamond and Last Samurai, in Defiance centers less on fight-choreography but on the battle for survival and it’s impact and meaning. Defiance (starring Daniel Craig as main character) tells the true story of Jewish partisans in 1941, who are fighting against their extermination by the Nazis. The significance of Aries-qualities such as courage, assertiveness, fighting spirit and even recklessness is very much accentuated.

ShopaholicTaurus demonstrates in this month’s Shopaholic his materialistic and greedy side. The light comedy revolves around a pretty young woman, who is a shopping addict and finally takes a job as an economic journalist (Gemini shows here already) to pay her bills. With her homespun and simple way of thinking she then even succeeds to bewitch her boss.

Slumdog MillionaireFamily-stories and fairy-tales are the realm of Cancer – this year’s Oscar-winner Slumdog Millionaire offers a bit of both: a socially critical fairy-tale with a hint of Bollywood. But since the narrative about a young man from a Mumbai slum, who is about to become rich in a TV-quiz show, also is a very moving life- and love-story, there are some Leo-aspects involved. More so even because against all odds life itself is celebrated and – if we engage in the emotional flow – we leave the theatre with a happy feeling.
The already mentioned The Wrestler provides the much less happy failing of a Leo-character.

Gran TorinoGran Torino, Clint Eastwood’s swan song to Dirty Harry is a thoroughly different kind of cinema than Slumdog Millionaire. In Walt Kowalski, the morose misanthropist, we can perceive a character with strong Virgo- and Capricorn-features, who is upset by the loss of (his somewhat old-fashioned conceptions of) values and decency in his spoiled and indulgent materialistic sons and their families as well as in his violence-ridden poor neighborhood. To a young woman at a party he introduces himself with the phrase “I fix things” – Walt truly comes alive when he can fix things, which could also be an attempt to make up for what he had done a long time ago as a soldier in Korea. After his wife dies, Walt gets fatefully involved with his new Asian neighbors – he makes himself useful again and takes charge. In a quite different way than Dirty Harry would have done…

This month’s Libra-movies are He’s just not that into you – a light-weight and clichéd date-comedy, that seems to cater to the fans of Sex and the City (which, with all its fashion- and relationship-talk, of course, is also a Libra-movie) – and The Duchess, a sumptuous costume drama, starring Keira Knightley as a young noblewoman in 18th century England, who receives public recognition as a fashion-idol while struggling with her love life.

Das Liebesleben der jeweiligen Protagonistin bestimmt auch die beiden folgenden Skorpion-betonten Filme, wenn auch in sehr unterschiedlicher Weise. Vampire und Werwölfe bevölkern den sehr typischen Skorpion-Film "Underworld – Aufstand der Lykaner", die grausame Versklavung der einen durch die anderen und brutale Machtkämpfe bestimmen den Plot dieser actionreichen, düsteren Unterwelt, in der gefährliche Vampire – Pluto – die Herrschaft über wilde Werwölfe – Mars – aufrechtzuerhalten suchen und eine Vampirin sich in einen Werwolf verliebt...

The ReaderThe protagonist’s love life also affects the following two Scorpio-influenced films, albeit in different ways. Vampires and Werewolves populate the very typical Scorpio-flick Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Cruel enslavement und dreadful power struggles determine the narrative in this violent, dark underworld, where dangerous Vampires (Pluto) are anxious to keep their dominance over wild Werewolves (Mars) and a Vampire falls in love with a Werewolf…
A far more complex take on Scorpio matters is given in The Reader, where in post-war Germany a young man obsessively falls in love with a much older woman and the story revolves around the erotic obsession and deep emotional entanglement as well as around issues of repression and guilt. When the woman (Kate Winslet got an Oscar for her performance) is brought to trial as a former concentration camp guard, beside the psychological drama, ethical questions are raised and the Capricorn side of guilt and punishment shows.

In politician’s careers and biographies Capricorn-topics like responsibility, renunciation and persistence are often found. Nevertheless Gus van Sant’s biography of gay icon Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay politician to be elected in the USA and who fought not only for gay but for civil rights, emphasizes typical Sagittarius-features such as broad-mindedness and liberalism, belief and mission – in general: the struggle and the commitment for one’s personal vision of a better world.

WatchmenIn cinema it’s often the superhero who fights for a better world. But the dark and impressive images in the long awaited adaptation of Alan Moore’s cult graphic novel Watchmen, tell us about superheroes, whose altruistic dedication to human well-being was no longer wanted a long time ago. Apart from the Sagitterius motif of the superhero and Nietzschean Superman, apart from the quest for truth, ethics and belief, the movie discusses questions of responsibility and moral conscience, solidarity and community, which evoke Capricorn and Aquarius. These two qualities are also mirrored in the visual realization: bleak, saturnine settings that remind of film noir are combined with the latest technical potential and new special effects.

Another kind of special effect and the high capacity of abstraction Aquarius provides make The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema an extraordinary lecture on film and film theory, held by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, who has been an “enfant terrible” and a “popstar” to the academic world for some time now. The remarkable and very entertaining film with Žižek’s provocative theories and his somewhat abstract view on film history clearly shows Aquarius-qualities: it shakes up our preconceptions and opens new perspectives to familiar images.

The FallWith new images however, Tarsem Singh attracted attention already with his first movie The Cell. His new one though, The Fall, is even more of an extraordinary visual experience. In a Los Angeles hospital in 1915 a paralyzed stuntman meets a little girl and tells her a fantastic adventure story, whose stunning and surreal images were called by a critic a “visual orgy”. The Pisces-theme not only shows in the exceedingly strong and dreamlike imagery and the fantasy motif, but also in the escapism, that is served by the narrated tale and in the narrator’s life-weary intention to – with the girl’s help – accumulate enough morphine to kill himself.

Apart from Scorpio-motifs like revenge and the red-light milieu, the brilliant Austrian drama Revanche, revolving around emotional changes after a deadly bank robbery, brings a very unspectacular side of Pisces to the screen. The film requires a calm and patient audience, who at leaving the theatre will then be rewarded with a deep peace, the most precious gift, Pisces can present.

Vesna Ivkovic

Vesna Ivkovic Vesna Ivkovic studied literature and linguistics, sociology, philosophy and history and as well took a profound interest in psychology, mythology and different belief systems. Along the way she also explored various paths of body awareness such as the martial arts of Kung Fu, Dance, Yoga, Qi Gong and several other methods of body work and motion arts. In 1993 she discovered astrology as an instrument of knowledge and graduated in 2004 in Markus Jehle's and Petra Niehaus' master class at the Astrology Center Berlin. You can find out more about the author and her work on her own website www.astrosemiotics.de

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