The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)
With “The Limits of Control” Aquarius Jim Jarmusch made a film, which reflects Uranus in Pisces. Merging familiar elements and narrative structures of film noir with unusual perspectives, lots of references and allusions and mystifying, spiritual truisms, he gives the contents of collective cultural imagery a new look and encourages us to toy around with it. The result is a cinematic kaleidoscope, which – watched with patience and an open mind – can provide some kind of initiation to our own imagination.
The movie starts literally with a reversal of familiar perspectives: In an overhead shot we see a head at the bottom of the frame. Arms and hands fill the rest of the screen with slow Qi Gong moves and only as the elegantly clad man starts leaving the frame, the next scene shows him stepping out of a narrow cubicle in an airport restroom.
It seems we have watched him prepare for an important encounter since in the next scene he’s meeting a Spanish speaking man, who – with the help of a translator and despite some not really obstructive linguistic confusion – appears to assign him a mission we cannot determine more precisely. Thereby phrases like “Use your imagination” and “Remember: reality is arbitrary” are used. Finally the two men, who obviously don’t communicate primarily by language, part after a downright brotherly embrace.
Following the taciturn agent on his journey through Spain now, we watch his further sometimes surreal, sometimes only mysterious encounters with different characters, who incorporate ideas rather than individual persons. Time after time the nameless “lone man” is sitting in cafés, ordering two espresso in two cups (a detail, he feels strongly about), talking very little and exchanging matchboxes filled with codes or diamonds with his contacts, while these elaborate on music, movies, molecules, art or hallucinogens and reflections. These characters all can be read as incorporating Pisces- or Uranus-in-Pisces-energy.
Balance to this emphasis on Pisces initially comes only from the protagonist’s stoic, precise and minimalist actions. He’s following austere principles and his whole appearance is exuding “Saturn”, while his obvious inclination towards dutiful asceticism and detailed rituals even suggests the current Virgo-Saturn (which is repeatedly moving in opposition to Uranus in Pisces since November 2008). This Virgo-Saturn character now has to follow an assignment that forces him to deal with Pisces-motifs – in the course of the movie we can observe, how this confrontations gradually cause subtle changes.
But there are other analogies for Saturn (respectively Capricorn) too: from the cafés the man watches black helicopters, which seem to execute some unknown surveillance task; the landscapes he travels through become increasingly barren and rocky, his accommodations more meager…
It is especially the cinematic means though, that are lending the Neptunian contents a Saturnine form: narrative reduction and minimalism in drama as well as in the performance mirror Saturn-quality, just as the constant, ritualized repetition of phrases, situations, images shows a Virgo-tone. Around this Saturnine framework slowly a story grows from the collective pool of images, along the supporting banister a plot advances, which, to become recognizable, demands from us a significant amount of imagination. And herein lies the pleasure, this movie offers: it resembles an attentively guided dive to the enigmatic and poetic beauties of our collective creativity – whose endangerment by close observation and reasonable utilization, but also by irrelevance and arbitrariness isn’t left unnoticed.
Maybe we also might find out, that “the limits of control” applying to our imagination, are defined from the outside as well as from the inside, they are in the boundless floods of human creativity, but also in the attentive and disciplined dealing with creative forces – this is demonstrated by “The Limits of Control” in a fascinating way.
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