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Re: Vanilla Sky

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  • Gerry
    ... got ... Gnostic ... psychic ... Yes, I did see the film one time straight through (and portions of it on two other occasions,) and was quite struck by the
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 7, 2003
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      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
      wrote:
      > Pursuant to a recent recommendation from a good friend, I finally
      got
      > around to seeing the film, _Vanilla Sky_, on cable yesterday. Has
      > anyone else seen this movie? I thought it was quite full of
      Gnostic
      > imagery and myth. I saw a gradual progression through hylic,
      psychic
      > stages to a spiritual awakening for the protagonist, David Aames....



      Yes, I did see the film one time straight through (and portions of it
      on two other occasions,) and was quite struck by the Gnostic themes.
      Ahhh, and how I DID love the voice of Sofía (via Penélope Cruz)!
      That gentle yet persistent prodding is something I'd like to program
      into my own alarm clock, but certainly not simply to avoid being late
      for work. ;-)

      I like how you noticed the progression of three states, but I found
      it quite difficult, myself, to keep up with the jumps in time. I was
      actually heartened to learn that in the original Spanish release,
      _Abre Los Ojos_, director Alejandro Amenábar also had reservations
      about the disjointed sequences. In the end, he agreed with co-writer
      Mateo Gil and opted for the more complicated presentation, instead of
      a linear approach, in order to avoid three separate stories that
      lacked cohesion. I gather he was merely talking about sub-plots
      there, but it works even better, IMO, when considering the three
      aspects of our nature.

      Having looked at what comments I could find from the writers and
      directors of both films, I'm not really convinced that the story was
      intended to be Gnostic, rather than simply an exercise in
      introspection and the quest for the nature of true love. Perhaps
      it's a matter of our being left somewhat in the dark since, all too
      often, directors are reluctant to spell out exactly what they feel is
      their inspiration (and intent) with a given film. From what I've
      seen, for instance, the Wachowski Brothers gave a downright cryptic
      response when asked directly about Gnostic influences in _The
      Matrix_. I guess no one wants to alienate other groups who relate to
      a film on their own terms.

      Still, the imagery is there. One scene I really enjoyed was actually
      hated by one of the reviewers I read. At the birthday party, Sofía
      is almost playfully passing her hand back and forth through a
      holographic image of John Coltrane. I'm not sure if the critic
      thought it was disrespectful or simply gratuitous, but when
      considering the character as Sophia, it seemed to me quite
      appropriate that she should be testing the "reality" of the jazz
      musician's "apparent" image.

      Among the observations you made during the film, did you notice more
      than one instance of a character asking, "Do you believe in God?" I
      know Julie asked David while they were in the car, but it also seems
      like David repeated the same question at a later time (I vaguely
      recall that from one of those groggy previews I had, but I forgot to
      pay attention for a recurrence when I finally saw the film in its
      entirety). I may have to watch it again just to see if the context
      of that reiteration (if it happened) has changed as well, in which
      case Julie's notion might have been more in line with the Demiurge,
      while David's might have been of a more transcendent deity.

      Overall, I quite enjoyed it, Cari. I'm already wondering about the
      themes to be found in _Pleasantville_. That will probably be next on
      my list, at least, as soon as it makes the rounds on digital cable.

      Gerry
    • pmcvflag
      Ok, my turn *lol*. I had seen this movie some time ago, but after Lady Cari s report I was forced to take a second look. This time, however, I cheated. I
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 7, 2003
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        Ok, my turn *lol*. I had seen this movie some time ago, but after
        Lady Cari's report I was forced to take a second look. This time,
        however, I cheated. I watched it once straight through, then once
        with the director/screenwriter's comentary. My take.....

        My previous impression of the film had been to write it off as just
        another solipsist movie (a pet peave of mine), but I have rethought
        that... I do see some Gnostic elements. There is, most definately,
        the notion of awakening to an absolute reality that I had missed
        before (well, it was very late after a long party *cough*). I do not
        think that the writer intended any Gnostic elements, but that is
        sometimes the beauty of pop art.

        In fact, I use the term "pop art" very intentionally. Something I
        completely missed, even on this recent watching, until the director
        pointed it out in his comentary, was just how soaked with popular
        iconography this movie was. Many scenes in the movie were taken from
        other movies, album covers, song lyrics, etc. (for instance, once
        scene with Aames and Sofia walking together was actually a Bob Dylan
        cover). The director intended this to tie in with the very first
        scene of the movie in which Aames rund out into Times Square NY with
        no company but advertisements on the buildings... popular images. The
        director states that he is fascinated with the effect of popular
        culture on the psyche.

        I point this out because of how elements from Gnosticism can pop up
        in themes where none is intended by the artist. Is it a matter of us
        writing more into a plot than really exists? OR!!! Could it be that
        some elements have simply not died from western thought, and thus
        have a tendency to find exploration through mediums via distant,
        vague, or even subconcious influence of things that are rattling
        around in popular western thought to this very day.

        I was not able to pick out the movement through the three human
        states, the way Lady Cari did... I remain oblivious (nothing new
        there *lol*). I could however pick out the basic two elements of
        illusion vs truth. From the directors perspective the first part of
        the movie was truth, which then melded with the illusion that Cruz
        bought from the cryogenic company, which in turn opened back up into
        the truth of Aames waking up again at the very end of the movie.
        However, the waking up at the end of the movie, once again to a
        female voice (which, the director is careful to state, is a third
        voice not yet known to Aames... a nurse at the cryogenic company)
        stating much the same thing as the voice at the beginning of the
        movie, begs the question of whether we are starting over with the
        same kind of dream... I hope not *lol*.

        BTW, Gerry... I loved Pleasantville. It appeals to my Carpocratian
        tendencies ;)

        PMCV

        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Gerry" <gerryhsp@y...> wrote:
        > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
        > wrote:
        > > Pursuant to a recent recommendation from a good friend, I finally
        > got
        > > around to seeing the film, _Vanilla Sky_, on cable yesterday.
        Has
        > > anyone else seen this movie? I thought it was quite full of
        > Gnostic
        > > imagery and myth. I saw a gradual progression through hylic,
        > psychic
        > > stages to a spiritual awakening for the protagonist, David
        Aames....
        >
        >
        >
        > Yes, I did see the film one time straight through (and portions of
        it
        > on two other occasions,) and was quite struck by the Gnostic
        themes.
        > Ahhh, and how I DID love the voice of Sofía (via Penélope Cruz)!
        > That gentle yet persistent prodding is something I'd like to
        program
        > into my own alarm clock, but certainly not simply to avoid being
        late
        > for work. ;-)
        >
        > I like how you noticed the progression of three states, but I found
        > it quite difficult, myself, to keep up with the jumps in time. I
        was
        > actually heartened to learn that in the original Spanish release,
        > _Abre Los Ojos_, director Alejandro Amenábar also had reservations
        > about the disjointed sequences. In the end, he agreed with co-
        writer
        > Mateo Gil and opted for the more complicated presentation, instead
        of
        > a linear approach, in order to avoid three separate stories that
        > lacked cohesion. I gather he was merely talking about sub-plots
        > there, but it works even better, IMO, when considering the three
        > aspects of our nature.
        >
        > Having looked at what comments I could find from the writers and
        > directors of both films, I'm not really convinced that the story
        was
        > intended to be Gnostic, rather than simply an exercise in
        > introspection and the quest for the nature of true love. Perhaps
        > it's a matter of our being left somewhat in the dark since, all too
        > often, directors are reluctant to spell out exactly what they feel
        is
        > their inspiration (and intent) with a given film. From what I've
        > seen, for instance, the Wachowski Brothers gave a downright cryptic
        > response when asked directly about Gnostic influences in _The
        > Matrix_. I guess no one wants to alienate other groups who relate
        to
        > a film on their own terms.
        >
        > Still, the imagery is there. One scene I really enjoyed was
        actually
        > hated by one of the reviewers I read. At the birthday party, Sofía
        > is almost playfully passing her hand back and forth through a
        > holographic image of John Coltrane. I'm not sure if the critic
        > thought it was disrespectful or simply gratuitous, but when
        > considering the character as Sophia, it seemed to me quite
        > appropriate that she should be testing the "reality" of the jazz
        > musician's "apparent" image.
        >
        > Among the observations you made during the film, did you notice
        more
        > than one instance of a character asking, "Do you believe in God?"
        I
        > know Julie asked David while they were in the car, but it also
        seems
        > like David repeated the same question at a later time (I vaguely
        > recall that from one of those groggy previews I had, but I forgot
        to
        > pay attention for a recurrence when I finally saw the film in its
        > entirety). I may have to watch it again just to see if the context
        > of that reiteration (if it happened) has changed as well, in which
        > case Julie's notion might have been more in line with the Demiurge,
        > while David's might have been of a more transcendent deity.
        >
        > Overall, I quite enjoyed it, Cari. I'm already wondering about the
        > themes to be found in _Pleasantville_. That will probably be next
        on
        > my list, at least, as soon as it makes the rounds on digital cable.
        >
        > Gerry
      • Gerry
        ... not ... from ... Dylan ... Especially with Cameron Crowe s interpretation would we expect to find the immense infusion of pop-culture references (certainly
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 8, 2003
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          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
          > Ok, my turn *lol*. I had seen this movie some time ago, but after
          > Lady Cari's report I was forced to take a second look. This time,
          > however, I cheated. I watched it once straight through, then once
          > with the director/screenwriter's comentary. My take.....
          >
          > My previous impression of the film had been to write it off as just
          > another solipsist movie (a pet peave of mine), but I have rethought
          > that... I do see some Gnostic elements. There is, most definately,
          > the notion of awakening to an absolute reality that I had missed
          > before (well, it was very late after a long party *cough*). I do
          not
          > think that the writer intended any Gnostic elements, but that is
          > sometimes the beauty of pop art.
          >
          > In fact, I use the term "pop art" very intentionally. Something I
          > completely missed, even on this recent watching, until the director
          > pointed it out in his comentary, was just how soaked with popular
          > iconography this movie was. Many scenes in the movie were taken
          from
          > other movies, album covers, song lyrics, etc. (for instance, once
          > scene with Aames and Sofia walking together was actually a Bob
          Dylan
          > cover)....


          Especially with Cameron Crowe's interpretation would we expect to
          find the immense infusion of pop-culture references (certainly with
          the music), but since I still haven't seen the Spanish version, I'm
          not sure of the authors' original goal in that regard.

          Still, take a look at what Crowe's production designer planned for
          fleshing out David's character through his surroundings:

          "To that end, Hardwicke adorned the walls with reproductions of
          classic works by Balthus, Rothko and Matisse, as well as some
          evocative canvasses by local Los Angeles artists. Quirky personal
          items also accented the rooms, such as a hand-painted Jason Lee
          original skateboard, emblazoned with the image of David Bowie; a huge
          surfboard sculpture from Hardwicke's own collection; and an homage to
          Crowe's rock & roll past in the form of several guitars, including a
          smashed one, lovingly framed behind glass.

          "Tom and Cameron emphasized that they wanted to convey David Aames'
          vitality," Hardwicke says, "so we used sports equipment in a
          decorative way like this amazing, dreamlike painting of the side of a
          car by Robert Russell. The piece is just so indicative of everything
          that happens in the film, in terms of cars and driving, and I thought
          it kicked ass."

          http://www.cameroncroweonline.com/films/vanillasky/productionnotes.htm

          Well, between Bob Dylan and David Bowie, you once again can find
          lyrical themes that resonate with Gnosticism, and in the case of the
          latter, a musician who actually professes an affinity toward Gnostic
          thought. Was the skateboard chosen because it was sporty and "kicked
          ass," or to patronize fellow actor/artist Jason Lee, or were there
          unseen forces at work influencing people's choices without their
          being aware?

          The decision to include archetypal images is certainly deliberate,
          but one wonders if it's often in merely a psychoanalytical context to
          give a film's characters greater depth. You can easily find that
          introspective element in a movie like _Fight Club_, but for a film
          that's often referred to as "Gnostic," it seems to be quite lacking
          with regard to the mythos, as in something like _The Truman Show_.

          As for _Pleasantville_ then, I'm looking forward to seeing it,
          especially after learning that it all started with a red apple. ;-)

          Gerry
        • lady_caritas
          Thanks, Gerry and PMCV, for viewing the film again and offering some wonderful insights. I ll admit I didn t take the time to research or listen to
          Message 4 of 5 , Aug 8, 2003
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            Thanks, Gerry and PMCV, for viewing the film again and offering some
            wonderful insights. I'll admit I didn't take the time to research or
            listen to behind-the-scenes comments, partly because I initially
            wanted to see what impression the movie made on me with only my
            preconceptions before adding those of others. LOL

            It will probably be easier if I just copy and paste relevant pieces
            of your posts to respond to.

            Gerry (#8124) ~
            "I like how you noticed the progression of three states, but I found
            it quite difficult, myself, to keep up with the jumps in time. I was
            actually heartened to learn that in the original Spanish release,
            _Abre Los Ojos_, director Alejandro Amenábar also had reservations
            about the disjointed sequences. In the end, he agreed with co-writer
            Mateo Gil and opted for the more complicated presentation, instead of
            a linear approach, in order to avoid three separate stories that
            lacked cohesion. I gather he was merely talking about sub-plots
            there, but it works even better, IMO, when considering the three
            aspects of our nature."

            Yes, following the jumps in time requires a lot of concentration, and
            honestly, I didn't immediately unscramble a linear progression of
            three states, so much as I observed them in hindsight. Near the end,
            scattered pieces tended to fall together. I'll admit that although I
            interpreted the "subplots" as "three aspects of our nature," I'd
            agree with PMCV that it is not at all apparent that this was the
            writer/director's intention. And, even though a movie might contain
            Gnostic motifs doesn't mean it necessarily should be categorized as
            a "Gnostic" movie. As you say, Gerry ~

            "Perhaps it's a matter of our being left somewhat in the dark since,
            all too often, directors are reluctant to spell out exactly what they
            feel is their inspiration (and intent) with a given film. From what
            I've seen, for instance, the Wachowski Brothers gave a downright
            cryptic response when asked directly about Gnostic influences in _The
            Matrix_. I guess no one wants to alienate other groups who relate to
            a film on their own terms."

            Most certainly.

            (In an interview I skimmed ~
            http://www.warnervideo.com/matrixevents/wachowski.html
            The Wachowski Brothers admitted to being influenced by some Buddhist
            ideas in making the film, but when asked, "Have you ever been told
            that the Matrix has Gnostic overtones?"--their response was, "Do you
            consider that to be a good thing?" Ha! Gotta watch out for a
            backlash from those who might not consider Gnostic overtones to be
            acceptable if they are considered *heretical*!)

            Heh, sometimes I wonder if writers/directors even fully know wherein
            their inspiration lies. As you say, Gerry, maybe _Vanilla Sky_, is
            about the "quest for the nature of true love." This has been a theme
            in so much literature throughout the ages. Might this love include a
            spiritual component? Our unconscious nonrational side is not always
            so easily rationalized, especially if one considers possible
            archetypal motifs transcending time that PMCV addresses below. This
            would go beyond even conscious archetypal images deliberately used,
            as you suggest, Ger. The writer's/director's own psyches could be
            explored, too, regarding choices (for instance, the "nurse" I'll
            discuss later). ~

            PMCV (#8125):
            "The director states that he is fascinated with the effect of popular
            culture on the psyche.

            "I point this out because of how elements from Gnosticism can pop up
            in themes where none is intended by the artist. Is it a matter of us
            writing more into a plot than really exists? OR!!! Could it be that
            some elements have simply not died from western thought, and thus
            have a tendency to find exploration through mediums via distant,
            vague, or even subconcious influence of things that are rattling
            around in popular western thought to this very day."

            Ah, yes, and considering Gerry's comments about beliefs in God
            (#8124), I'm reminded of David being wheeled into surgery,
            singing, "What if God was one of us?..."

            PMCV, you had the benefit of listening to director comments (#8125) ~
            "From the directors perspective the first part of the movie was
            truth, which then melded with the illusion that Cruz bought from the
            cryogenic company, which in turn opened back up into the truth of
            Aames waking up again at the very end of the movie. However, the
            waking up at the end of the movie, once again to a female voice
            (which, the director is careful to state, is a third voice not yet
            known to Aames... a nurse at the cryogenic company) stating much the
            same thing as the voice at the beginning of the movie, begs the
            question of whether we are starting over with the same kind of
            dream... I hope not *lol*."

            I would hope not, too, PMCV. Is the director really listening to his
            own words? If David is "waking up again" to "truth" (as exemplified
            in the beginning of the movie), why is he waking up to the voice of a
            nurse at the cryogenic company? How on earth is the uninformed
            viewer supposed to even surmise that at the end without more
            background researching of source material or his directorial notes
            here? LOL Gosh, after just seeing the Sofia image in the last
            scene, my mind must have been playing tricks on me because the voice
            sounded so much like hers. But then I only saw the movie one
            time. ;-) I suppose I'd better review it, too. Nonetheless I am
            also struck by the idea that a *nurse*, a healer, was chosen to tell
            David to open his eyes, instead of the recorded voice by hylic
            Julia. Did the director have any further comments as to why this
            nurse was chosen? I wonder if we're possibly seeing an unconscious
            (soter) motif emerge or am I really stretching here. :-) A Gnostic
            interpretation would view the first part of the movie as reality, but
            not the only reality. A materialist would see a return to the
            material; however, a Gnostic version might include a spiritual
            reality at the end. And, as you say, PMVC, if not, are we
            only "starting over with the same kind of dream"? Is David in some
            kind of vicious cycle? A rather depressing thought, eh? David
            expressed that he wanted to "live a real life." I suppose a viewer's
            sense of reality might play a large role in reading that final scene.

            "Pleasantville"? I, like Gerry, will have to see this one,
            too. "Carpocratian tendencies," PMCV? Incorrigible you
            remain.... ;->


            Cari
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