Cinema as an image machine exhibits a vast abundance of archetypal characters, motifs, and qualities, which in astrology are embodied by planets, constellations and the signs of the zodiac.
Once a month Vesna Ivkovic will draw the connections offering insight into the cinematic representations and forms of expression for the current zodiacal sign.
Within the Zodiac confrontational Aries is followed by epicurean and conservative Taurus. After Aries has started anew, conquered new worlds or won a victory, Taurus goes on staking out the territory and securing borders, experiencing and enjoying the newly won goods with all senses.
In film this is often reversed for dramaturgical reasons: the safety of a (supposedly) idyllic world is shattered by a sudden incident, and the hero or the heroine are rudely pulled out, then setting out to make their world safe and sound again… Thus the Taurus element is quite often the starting point or even the objective but it rarely drives and determines the narrative. (Rather common is the combination of Taurus- and Scorpio-energy in the horror-genre, when an apparently idyllic setting turns into hell bit by bit.)
Yet in Taurus-movies the said “idyllic world” is a very typical motif: a world, where the protagonists enjoy the security of a familiar and habitual setting, a rich variety of (not only) material goods and a happy, sensuous life.
Taurus loves to live with familiar habits and he loves nature, with which he is on close terms. As well as gathering and enjoying substantial goods, tradition and the concept of “Gemütlichkeit” [*] are important values to Taurus. Change and innovation are met with inertia as Taurus prefers to hold on to a reliable status-quo and to sit out the challenge until all potential troublemakers are lured into inaction.
Cinematically the Taurus-typical love for tranquillity and for the familiar is mirrored in traditional and common narrative structures as well as in languid camera shots wallowing in mellow and lovely landscapes. Soundtracks are measured and solemn or ethnic and festive, camera work is unhurried and tranquil, colours are saturated yet never flashy and all senses are being addressed in a serene manner…
Very well suited to Taurus themes is a genre known as the “Heimatfilm”, movies with a regional and rural background, which are often one-dimensional and even corny.
In 1954 one of the most successful German language movies hit the silver screen: „Der Förster vom Silberwald“ („The Ranger from Silver Forest“) tells the story of questionable commercial interests threatening said forest and old hunting traditions and how much these are in tune with nature. It also conveys a pastoral and idyllic setting, where a young woman is lured by the ranger in question into relishing nature and eventually returning to the country. Of special significance in this film is the extended and contemplative wildlife footage.
The “Heimatfilm” of American cinema certainly is mainly the western. The most prominent Aries-features in this genre like fighting and the pioneer spirit are complemented by the Taurus-theme of commitment to land and soil. The typical motif of resistance towards modernization and everything unfamiliar, the threat to a tranquil rural life is also a frequent part of the stories that make classic westerns. Such a classic is “The Big Country” (W. Wyler, 1958), where a wealthy newcomer in a pastoral community is first met with suspicion and then unwillingly drawn into the land feud of two ranchers – eventually bringing everything to a safe and sound ending, promising further security.
Four decades later “The Horse Whisperer” (R. Redford, 1998) introduces a townswoman to the beneficial powers, the sensuous appeal and the simple joy of country life, when she has her daughter’s traumatized horse (along with her daughter) treated by him. The movie is set in Montana and describes a serene idyllic scene, which could hardly be shown with more cheesy romanticism. Beside the closeness to nature and many ethnic elements in the life of the rural community, another Taurus-theme, the topic of sensual seduction plays an important role here.
When it comes to sensuous enjoyment of life, the title character in the well-known Greek film “Alexis Zorbas” (M. Cacoyannis, 1964) can be considered an icon. Set in rural Greece, the film also is some kind of “Heimatfilm”: A recently arrived Englishman of partly Greek descent meets an older bon vivant, who teaches him to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and thus find stability in them.
A very fundamental message Taurus has to convey is: Even when there are problems and conflicts to sit out, life goes on and there’s always a flowery meadow, a tasty meal, a joyous dance or a pleasant body to enjoy. The temptation to pleasure plays an important role in Taurus movies, where not only the protagonists but also the audience are lured into a state of feeling good.
Dedicated to sweet and tasty delights, “Chocolat” (L. Hallström, 2000) offers a story about this temptation to pleasure: 1959 a small town in rural France becomes the new home of Vianne, played by Juliette Binoche, and her little daughter. Vianne is a master of chocolate confectionery. She creates the most tempting candies and chocolate goodies, made to excite the senses, which even the most austere and uptight citizens can not resist – although it is the time of lent. Thus, little by little, joie de vivre and sensuous pleasure find their way into the town…
Lasse Hallström also directed the recent romantic mystery “Safe Haven”, where a young woman is searching the “safe haven” mentioned in the title – which is the other big Taurus theme.
A connection between sweet delights and a safe haven is created in “The Secret Life of Bees” (Gina Prince-Bythewood, 2008): Regardless of tragic incidents in the lives of 14 year old Lily and the Boatwright sisters, with whom she finds shelter, this film has an atmosphere of plain appreciation of life, and the audience leaves the cinema with the pleasant feeling of having experienced the abundance of life and it’s Taurus-like persevering resilience. The Boatwright sisters are able to lead a tranquil and wealthy life thanks to their production of honey, which in terms of cultural history is the oldest and most valuable luxury food and symbolizes nature’s riches and abundant resources as well as the sweetness of life. Accordingly it is a strong analogy for Taurus.
The matrilineal family saga “Antonia’s Line” (Marleen Gorris, 1995) is the story of insistent and vibrant Antonia, who left her village as a young girl and returns as a mature woman with her adult daughter and the intention of, against all odds, living a quiet and serene life. She establishes a farm, providing shelter and a safe haven for some harbourless people and this farm becomes a haven of well-being and love for life for several generations. Images of happy farm work, joyous feasts and an almost stoic attitude towards little as well as grand misfortunes convey a down-to-earth-feeling and deep devotion to the facts of life, which are never and in no way questioned but rather very much accommodated by Taurus.
The powerful and sensuous women in the centre of many movies that highlight Taurus-energy remind us of such archetypal, love and fertility goddesses as Demeter and Ishtar, Isis and Lakshmi and of course Venus, the ruler of Taurus.
This is true as well for some period films, which are set in the world of courtesans, hetaerae and geishas and adorned with opulent furnishings and rich costumes, combining the materialist aspects of Taurus with its sensually enticing side. Marilyn Monroe’s iconic scene in “Gentlemen prefer Blondes” (H. Hawks, 1953), when she sings “Diamonds are a girls best friend”, her curves glamorously clad in pink satin, surrounded by a bunch of downright hypnotized men, is truly Venus in action. Baz Luhrmann refers to this theme (even musically) in “Moulin Rouge” (B. Luhrmann, 2001) and creates an exuberantly sensuous variation on the romantic plot of a courtesan falling for a poor poet (here the romantic and emotional element adds quite some Cancer energy though).
Romantic love also becomes a trap for the Taurus-oriented protagonist of “Chéri” (S. Frears, 2009), yet the sensually depicted relationship between the attractively aging courtesan and the considerably younger son of her colleague expresses a very Taurus-like physicality and, despite a tragic ending, a lot of humour.
In many other films the courtesan-motif is being elaborated on in similar ways, and repeatedly it is the enjoyable and sumptuous production design that pictures and accentuates the Taurus-quality, offering us a multitude of seductive and sensuous Venus-archetypes.
i “Gemütlichkeit” is best described as “a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemuetlichkeit
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