Thursday, July 11, 2013

Black rainbows in the eyes of God.

To understand where this movie is coming from, there's a few things you should watch first:

The Philosophy of Carl Sagan

Sci-fi psychedelia of Saul Bass

This isn't a music video made from the film, this is just a scene from it.
And my favourite one that that.

This movie was not only one of my favourites of 2012, but actually shares a lot in common with another of my favourites of last year.
Our Engineer starts to chemically fall apart.

As does old man Arboria.

Prometheus and Beyond the Black Rainbow cover a shocking amount of the same territory. They both feature ancient and withered old men on the search for something beyond humanity,  terrifying and altering black goo, a reliance on sci-fi of the past, and not only do they both briefly become slasher films, they're both brutal take downs of everything New Age.

Welcome to Aboria Institute

Opening in the year 1983, this film focuses on the obsession Aboria's protégé, Dr. Barry Nyle, has for a powerful teenage psychic named Elena. As we watch the film, we learn that Elena is the daughter of Dr. Aboria, though since the film offers so little exposition, and dialogue in general, i've seen some people think she was Dr. Nyle's daughter. Though the way they are bound is a rather familial.

Somwhere near the middle of the film we flash back to the 1960s, and we see that their blend of pharmacology, sensory therapy, and "energy sculpting" has led to an pool of terrifying and unknowable goo. Dr. Nyle submerges himself, and, well, breaks on through to the other side.

After confronting the real, Barry reemerges from the pool, completely bestial and insane. In his madness he assults and rips out the throat of Dr. Aboria's wife. The very next scene is Aboria and a bandaged Barry baptizing Elena in the pool. Now you could see how this would lead some people to believe Elena was Barry's daughter, in that perhaps she was born of the attack. Had this been the case however, the baptism would be redundant. And more importantly we later see the direct link between Aboria and Elena when he dies.

From Barry's attack on Aboria's wife, it's apparent he was obsessed with her, an obsession he's since passed onto Elena. Keeping the girl sealed off from the world, he uses a combination of drugs, synthesizers, and pyramids to keep her superior powers at bay. All the while waiting start some really disturbing psychosexual experiments on her. Elena knows what Barry is, refuses to talk to him, and shows her will by breaking through his barriers and psychically demanding to see her father.

Old Man Aboria at this point in time, is a decrepit drug addict, locked away in the basement of the institute watching old reels of his past optimism in obtaining enlightenment. He asks Barry to give him his fix, at which point we have the flashback to the 60s, of the black goo and baptisms. It soon becomes obvious that Barry is giving the emaciated shell of a man a fatal dose, and as he slips off, we see the connection between father and daughter fade away.

The death of Aboria sets two things into motion, the first is Barry's devolution back into a sexual monster:

Second would be Elena's desperate final attempt to escape:

The way Barry resembles Nosferatu is such a fun touch.

Barry goes home and takes off his wig and contacts, revealing his true self he's been hiding for eighteen years. He gives his wife a heartfelt speech about how wonderful and terrifying it was to look into the eye of God and have God look back. He then kills her for being "nothing".

Meanwhile Elena is making her way through Nyle's institute, and runs into various experiments with the black goo, the most terrifying being this id driven window licker.

Luckily Elena manages to escape the compound before Barry arrives to take her. Once outside, seeing the stars in the sky, feeling the grass under her feet, she becomes one with the universe and passes out, it is a bit much to take in all at once.

Barry then goes on the hunt for her, and instead comes upon two drunken, hilariously 80s metalheads.

Living up to the slasher film villian he has become he quickly disposes of the two, because in his jealously clouded mind, they must have fucked Elena. (Though if she has become one with everything, he might really be smelling and tasting her on them, and everything else. His entire world was already her though, so i suppose he wouldn't have noticed the difference.)

Elsewhere, Elena comes back from her sensory overload just as Barry comes upon he. She backs away on the verge of tears, while he pathetically pleads with her to come to him. And in a moment many have deemed anticlimactic (and it is, hilariously so), Barry gets his feet tangled up in some plants, trips,  and hits his head on a rock. And that's it, he's dead. i have seen arguments over whether this is Elena using her powers, or just dumb luck, an act of nature if you will. And i would argue that at this point there is no difference. Upon her escape we saw her bond with nature and the universe, and now outside of the institute, she is free from all previous restraints. The last thing Barry sees is God looking at him with disgust in her eyes.

The final shot of the film is Elena about to set foot into suburbia, for better or worse, she is let loose upon the world.

Beyond the Black Rainbow is a beautiful film that explores its themes with as little dialogue as possible. In fact, i don't think Elena ever physically says a word. The score is top notch (i almost want to say it's a crime it hasn't been released on its own, however it's hard to imagine it without the images of the film) and every scene is a visual treat. You rarely get a science-fiction film like this.

Also i have a special love for the film, because it introduced to me to the wonderful SSQ.

No comments: