Reflecting on Film Can Prompt a New Perspective
Here I go again. In my last post about the film Aquaman, I confessed my obsession with movies and went on to share the religious and spiritual themes I experienced through the film.
I have another confession. I’m also obsessed with anything resembling a super hero movie. As I began consciously exploring my mid-life journey, the reason for my obsession became quite obvious. In many cases, the person becomes a super hero once he or she discovers their gift – super power. The gift comes from a wound. I know part of my task during mid-life is to find, cultivate and share my particular gift.
The film Wonder Woman had a powerful impact on me, helping me discover my wound had to do with not feeling the depth of love that I needed as a sensitive, intuitive and introverted child. I have become quite obsessed with learning to exist as pure LOVE. That’s a whole other story.
A Little About Alita: Battle Angel
I expected I would enjoy the recently released film Alita: Battle Angel, but I did not expect to experience it the way I did. According to Robert Johnson, author of Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth, if you think the meaning of a dream or symbol is obvious, chances are you haven’t found the real meaning. And when you let go and stop thinking, it’s magical what might come up from your unconscious.
The movie is categorized as a cyberpunk action film based on the 1990’s Japanese manga series Gunnm (also known as Battle Angel Alita) by Yukito Kishiro. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, the film is written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis, and produced by Cameron and Jon Landau.
Alita, the main character is described as a cyborg; she sets out to learn about her past after she awakens in a new body with no memory of who she is. The movie could be seen as a story of initiation into adulthood, a hero’s journey, or a dystopian story. Upon seeing the movie the second time, I became intrigued with a character that does not even appear until the very end of the movie. My continued processing of this character when it comes to my own life is leading me to believe that there is something else going on – something that the movie is tapping into in the unconscious of the collective culture.
Mid-Life as a Time to Re-explore Relationship to God or Source
In my last film post, I called on C.G. Jung’s theory that mid-life is a time of death for an old way of living, a way of living where the ego is being strengthened by becoming educated, developing talents, becoming successful in one’s career, and achieving a comfortable life style. Something begins to feel not quite right, something is missing, often there feels to be a crisis of meaning. Many who resist letting go of this part of life sometimes turn to alcohol, sex or other ways of filling the new void.
Others who get up the courage to re-examine their lives, motivations, wounds, and their dark side, begin the archetypal Hero’s Journey, and eventually begin to come out the other end with new wisdom and a new passion for service to others through the gift that was always there but never acknowledged.
Dare to Open the Door to the Meaning in Your Film Experience
If you’re open to living a more symbolic life, which means realizing that thinking and reason are only one way of gaining wisdom and knowledge about the truth, then film – or your favorite Netflix series, or any other art form – can open up a world of magical insights that you cannot gain by using your brain.
Step #1 – Identify Images that stick out to you. Don’t TRY to do anything different, but be alert to images (visual, verbal, movie lines) that stick out to you. There were many images in Alita that were striking to me, but the one that has got me thinking the most is the character called Nova, played by Edward Norton, who of course is brilliant.
Step #2 – Reflect about what the images make you think about or feel. Just let your imagination go or talk about it with someone. In the film, Nova is this mysterious and powerful figure, he lives up on Zalem, the last of the sky cities that survived The Fall, aka The Great War. The fact that he is experienced as omnipotent, speaks through the eyes and bodies of others, is referred to as the watcher of all, and is never able to be seen face to face led me to think about him as the Christian God who many perhaps feel is simply watching the wicked prey on the weak and doing nothing about it. For me, it is not a coincidence that the main event is called The Fall, the event that leads to the expulsion of certain people out of Zalem and the Iron City of Earth being a place where wickedness rules. How did Nova come to be this omnipotent force that goes unchallenged. One of Nova’s lieutenants, Vector, says to a young protégé something like, “I’d rather be a powerful leader down here than a servant up there.” For me, that is such a powerfully spiritual statement, an admission that it is easier to give in to temptation than to serve a higher power. However, Nova does not seem to resemble what Christians believe to be true of God. Stay tuned though; the end of the movie implied a sequel is coming.
Step #3 – Ask yourself “Where is this happening in my life?” Exploring what intrigues you in a film may bring to the surface a desire you’ve repressed or something that you’ve been projecting onto others that you can’t admit about yourself, for example your own intolerance. Part of my mid-life reflection over the past five years about my relationship history revealed an unconscious desire to connect with God, perhaps acting as a compensation to my negative experience with my childhood religion. As my openness to learning about the religion of my family was met with hostility towards and blame of women for everything wrong in society, I seemed to have sought refuge in physical connection with men. This didn’t work out of course, because one’s hole in their soul can only be filled spiritually, by finding meaning for one’s life independent of one’s relationship with another human being. As I consciously re-explore religion with my eyes wide open, seeking to find the higher principles for myself, apart from what any other human being has to say through his or her limited patriarchal lens, I tend to see religious themes everywhere. I know this is my unconscious’s way of helping me get to the bottom of my relationship with God.
Step #4 – Develop a Practice for Journaling and Reflection. Don’t expect too much right away – insights may come fast or slow. Consider developing a practice of seeing metaphors and symbolism that are right in front of you, whether in films that intrigue you, your favorite songs, or Netflix series you binge watch. There’s a hidden and deeper reason you’re drawn to what you’re drawn to, and being open to what’s beneath the surface can provide real direction for your life. My practice of working with dreams and films have caused dramatic shifts in my confidence and lowering of anxiety when it comes to knowing which actions to take as I contemplate what my new vocation and purpose might be. Films seem to be a favorite way for my unconscious to reach me.
Join a growing number of women who gather with me monthly to talk about mid-life. Working with film, dreams, and other ways our unconscious talks with us is always part of the conversation. Click here to register for the March 6th workshop at Elle Studio.
Deborah Lukovich holds a M.A. and is a Ph.D. Candidate in depth psychology. She works with people who want to understand themselves better in order to find a greater sense of purpose and overcome obstacles that may be holding them back. Visit Deborah’s website http://www.deborah-alinea.comto learn more about her services.