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Blog Posted in avatar   Jonathan Farrell's Blog

"Immortals," sleek, high tech story telling still magnifies the depth of myths and legends

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By Jonathan Farrell
Posted Sep 4, 2012 in Entertainment
Visiting with friends and family who have "Netflix" courtesy of Roku, has been a real treat. This past week we watched "Immortals" from the producers of "300."
We also watched "Thor" which I also liked.
I liked them both and I saw a lot of similarities between them. This seems to me that all cultures share similar experiences on this earth and of course there is always that classic struggle between good and evil.
It is exiting to live at a time when stories, myths and legends can come to life on screen, with such outstanding cinematography and special effects. Both these movies have lots of it.
Yet, I had to watch "Immortals" a second time to really get the scope and depth of the story line. Yes, it will help if I read up on ancient Greek Mythology. But, one thing that stood out for me in the 2011 movie "Immortals" was the artistic direction.
It was stylish and interesting and to me merged several motifs into one. I could discern, Byzantine, Roman, Moorish-(Middle Eastern) and a touch of Salvador Dali-like surrealism. Like the movie "300" from 2006. the sets and costumes have a very somber mood, Spartan in parts and rather pessimistic.
I appreciated it, mostly because it expresses so many art styles and I guess demonstrates how much the ancient Greek culture influenced the world and has done so down through the centuries. Which, that explains the varied interpretations of the portrayal of the gods in "Immortals."
That part, while very visually stunning and stylish was hard follow for me at first. Because, the symbols of the gods, were not very clear. First of all, Zeus in the movie was young, no beard and if there was no introduction or mention of his name in the dialog he for me would not be recognizable as Zeus.
Poseidon, was perhaps easier to discern in scenes because of the trident. But for the other gods it was not so clear. The artistic interpretation seemed a bit stretched. Athena was lovely, but where was her symbol? The owl, the helmet, that usually distinguishes her. At times she seemed more like Hera, with a crown of gold, etc. Yet, again if her name was not mentioned in the dialog and she and Zeus had not greeted each other by name, I would have been lost.
Yet, it was clear that this had to do with a "war in the heavens." Right away I saw some similarities to Judaic-Christian themes. And, I realized that much of Western religion in that tradition is influenced by ancient pre-organized religion thought and culture.
Some of the scenes are very bloody and hint and at extreme cruelty. Mickey Rourke is dastardly and it is hard to believe he was once a god-like in good looks leading man in his younger days.
The script does hint at some universal concerns such as "what is fate?" "at what point is humankind inspired by a higher power (be it the gods or God?" And, of course, the age old philosophical question, "what is our purpose in life?" "Why is there good and evil?" Etc.
I also noticed that the main character of Theseus and others had disbelief in "the gods," that too is a theme that many today can relate too. So it seems questions and perspectives are not completely new, others have been through similar centuries before. That in itself is interesting to watch and muse along with the characters in the movie. Some reasons for lack of faith are complex and some are a bit petty. ("The gods didn't answer my prayer for a horse.") Do human beings really change in over 2,000 years or more? Hmm, I wonder!
The action is outstanding, the acting is good. The cinematography and art direction is unique and visually stunning, with some contemporary interpretations. Yet for this reporter, at times it distracted from the more important aspects of the story line.
Some critics note that this past summer was not a good year for blockbuster movies. Regardless, I still say action, hero movies are a winner in every season. And, of course myths and legends be they Greek, Roman, Nordic, Celtic, etc, will never die. People who like mythology will enjoy "Immortals." And, perhaps art history enthusiasts too!

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