Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lucy



Her dress might not look like it, but Lucy is a student devoted to her studies. She's certainly ready to party, but her life course is not open to anything really untoward and divergent ... to anything that might spark her onto a path of self-exploration that hasn't been approved for her, like study-hard-and-get-a-staid-safe-job, clearly has. She's forced onto this path, however, clamped down, and the results aren't the riches promised to her but rather along the sort of ghoulish fate a disapproving super-ego would have chased onto her for the grotesque approbation. It involves -- pretty much in the same heartbeat in which a new path was presented -- the brutal dispatch of her new lover/friend, a floor-platter of corpses, and a long incision made into her abdomen/pelvic region, degrading her into the role of a container. She emerges out of total obliteration, and first thing, calls her mother -- to tell her over and over again how much she loves her; how she is, ostensibly, her perpetual devotee. 


Well of course this isn't exactly what went on, which would of had it follow all films infused with some awareness of how growth and self-actualization -- that suitcase of Pandora opportunities, suddenly sprung upon you as a real possibility in adulthood -- will necessary lead you to be chastened by terrifying fears of punishment and abandonment, a la  "Eyes Wide Shut," that'll have you curling back to your regular routine, beholden to habitual chasteners, in no time. And I think the reason is that Lucy, despite being someone who'll learn to use 100 percent of her brain capacity and become the first human to reach godhood, or full actuality, is really breaching her somewhat trepidatious and fearful regular self to become the sort of grand hag that emerges in certain historical periods -- a witch, as one of her opponents in the film calls her -- that daunts the rest of us back into being quiescent good boys and girls.


Yes, this film is another one this year that follows that so long as you as an audience member feel that you'd be with those who'd let the great beastie in the film have Her way -- whatever the hell she might be up to -- you get to participate in the thrill of knowing she's going to be devouring others, not you, while vicariously enjoying her assertion, her casual, thrilling trespasses (at one point she barges through the multiple cars ahead of her the wrong way on a one-way street as if X-Men's Storm scattering a gallery of approaching hell-bent sentinels) and power. "Godzilla," where the humans save themselves by not interfering -- by correctly choosing to see the monster as a necessary correction to human arrogance -- is of course one. "Maleficent," with the massively powered witch who toys with destroying an innocent youth just to revenge herself against her father, and who's resolve to ultimately save or destroy her is something we wouldn't want to interfere with and which only seems amenable to the victim's total sacrificial willingness and devotion, one of the many others. In "Lucy," you could imagine yourself the police captain, who's basic response to Lucy is, "whatever you want lady ... as if there's any chance I'd say no to you!" Followed later, as he kills to ostensibly protect her, by capitulated full devotion. Or as the great scientist, who despite the film's long build-up of him as a master into new terrain, fielding hopeful -- and hopefully provocative and notice-worthy -- questions from the most promising of young educated minds, is instantly made impotent and historically irrelevant by Lucy's full knowledge of brain capacity, compared to his really only just being on the right track.


Not bad ... a police captain, a great scientist, however deflated; but those obliged to a power -- about stilling everyone else -- which is horribly corrupt. The rest of humanity who oddly opts out is put in the position of those gangsters which strangely are allowed to linger in this film when their relevance seems kaput the moment Lucy shows herself able to defuse a packed hallway of threatening men at mere 20 percent brain capacity. It is one of these gangsters that ends up identifying her, not as Lucy, the great mother, but as an obvious witch -- as the complete corruption of one. And I took this as bait for the audience.


These gangsters may have lingered in the film to satisfy the terms of a plot set up at the beginning ... but really, I think to be honest with ourselves, there was little in the way of requisite demands, as they could really have been swept into the apparatus that inadvertently unleashed a superpower into the world -- part of a plot that discards the accident that triggered it. They lingered because someone has to go about killing innocents who's death Lucy surely could have prevented, to test to see how truly obliged to her we are, how willing we are to look away. Lucy, about at the point where brain capacity means she's able to freeze the whole forward momentum of everyone on the planet, and then swipe herself back to a time when they didn't even exist, announces at one point that she's got to shut down a bit ... apparently to war against some of her cells, impertinently staging some kind of resistance to her. During this time the gangsters intrude at the university she's at and start killing multiple people on their way to her. We're not just talking cops, but the regular amble of people you'd expect to find there. Lucy's self-focus and isolation is meaning a lot of other people's needless deaths.


It irritated me, just like I was irritated when, after Lucy first starts incurring powers and kills the men who've trapped her, she then strode out into the street and shot a taxi driver to ensure the other one standing there would be instantly obliging (later she tells the driver to "stay here and wait for me," with his resolve to do so dependent only on his fear of her). Maybe like you, I wondered for a moment if the drivers were employees of the gangsters -- that is, guilty. But you realize quickly that, no, they're probably just taxi drivers. And for this reason -- their soon-to-be-obvious-to-us obvious total innocence -- the film gives us something to quell back qualms. Namely, it makes clear that the driver had only been shot in the leg, even if this news feels as if it was spit at us, like as if how pathetic of us to still give a damn about this evolutionary lesser! It irritated me when she subsequently strode into the hospital and shot a guy being operated on so her own "more important" needs could be instantly attended to by the gathered team of surgeons ... that we were to be bought off to her side by being informed, by her, that the patient wasn't going to live -- or was it that the operation wouldn't work and he didn't have long to live? -- anyway, as if, given what we'd already seen of her, we'd be sure this would have mattered one way or the other.


Here she's surely being "bad to the bone"; but when Arnie does it in "Terminator," and is allowed to get away with it, in that we're fully with him, the victims are Harley Davidson thugs, ruffians, bullies to the rest of humankind. When he doesn't, when we the audience allow themselves to be terrified of him -- to know ourselves to be terrified of him -- the victims are shop owners (the first film), people like you and me.


The historial periods where the Terrifying Mother emerges to scare everyone out of their guilty self-actualization and growth, is upon us. To her, we sacrifice innocents ... representatives of our early selves, who we think deserve to be casually shovelled into her maw, guilty as we believe we were the very moment we failed our mothers by attending to our own needs. The death of innocents is in the news all about us ... Gaza wars killing mostly civilians -- including, always, always, those in hospitals, schools; and planes shot down, full of people like you and me. And the Terrifying Mothers, those "Kick Ass" superhero women we're seeing everywhere and mostly only see fit to praise for showing "how far we've come," are perhaps mostly in our fantasy worlds. But don't be surprised to soon find media portrayals of He-man Putin -- in a dress. We're first terrified by her re-visit, and placate her wishes; but later fuse with her, splitting off all our own mother's negative aspects onto some other.


Lucy isn't quite our all-good Mother ... there's no way we'd allow her to show such scary reptilian eyes, as she does at one point in the film, nor to be pictured as black-tarrish (the second time this occurs with the increasingly remote and abandoning Scarlett Johanssen this year, btw, with the first being "Under the Skin") if this were so. But she is the beginning of our split. Since our defensive bonding to the pure mother will also entail revenge against the bad mothers who abandoned us, Lucy is shown starting about that too (given how we see Lucy dress, her trampishness, do we really believe her relationship with her mother was actually so blissful and uncomplicated?). Her mother is seemingly being hugged close to her on the phone, with all her "I love you forevers." But it's really an embrace in preparation for dispatch, similar to the one the abandoned son (Commodus) "offers" his father (Marcus Aurelius) in "Gladiator" to displace him from the throne. She follows her pronouncements by remembering her first puppy, which disorients her mother, in that it was so early she couldn't possibly have remembered it. And then talks about suckling her mother's breasts, the breast milk ... which is now hardly factoring in her mother's ability to keep up with her at all, as she's lost into her own indulgences, as well as likely considering the greatest need for her new incarnation, for who she is now


The infant's relation to the breast, is also away from, in a way, her mother, as it's now abstracted from what is particular about her and now just the anthropological/biological/Winnicotian phenomena of child, attachment, breast. It's also closer in its quintessence to what mostly now moves Lucy -- her existence as something manifest about the evolution of homo sapiens. To what it is now about her genes which differentiates her from every other human being who has ever lived. To what it is which cleaves her from them.


Her mother, that is, is logically being made to seem just one of the innumerable mothers somewhat indistinct from the one who first begat them all as members of the same species, the one who truly was different from all of her progenitors -- the original Lucy, the very first homo sapien capable of breeding. She uses her 100 percent brain capacity to swipe time back to the point where she can meet her, to broach touching, connecting with her. Swiping back too modestly at first, though, has her face peoples interesting, and maybe offering some communion, for representing a whole historical period, but still not interesting enough in their none of them representing a new species that would span through thousands of them. So she follows by overshooting, finding herself before a T-Rex ... not main floor, and arrival, but -- seemingly inadvertently -- the dungeons.


She quickly climbs back to the first homo sapien, but subliminally it's not lost to the audience why Lucy "erred" by reconnecting with the archetypal devouring dinosaur. As much as the movie has had us think of Lucy as someone who's closest affinity is still with "apes," the moment we saw her possess reptilian eyes revealed something more true about how we experience her. She's not to be abstracted out as some sort of historical development, some realization of what something completely evolutionarily new would make of its current habitat -- choose to breed, or cling to its own immortality; some proof of theory. Some might say she represents the dangerous placenta, in its strangling and de-oxiginating stages -- the first object we related to before our mother's breast became so important to us, which I think is fair ... something that in a sense is antecedent to the mother and matches the film's focus on the chemical mixture of the fetus in the womb. But more she represents the terrifying mother we knew from "four to six, [where] the fear of death and imaginary threats [come] to dominate the child's mind [including] fears of monsters, ghosts, murderers, tigers, lions, or other predatory animals." She represents the Dragon Mother, "worshipped by all early states -- from Lilith, Nin-Tu, Hecate and Ishtar to Moira, Shiva, Gorgon and Erinyes, [called] 'Terrible Mothers' by their worshippers, [as they] were seen as cruel, jealous and unjust: 'her glance brings death, her will is supreme" (DeMause, "Origins of War in Child Abuse").



She swiped to the toothy dinosaur -- something we all suspected, and we're thrilled to see realized -- because this is the archetype the lies behind her, the real truth about what is emerging from out of her crazily recombinant DNA. Not the original mother, Lucy, but the dragon one, "T."