May 082011

Immediately after the new Thor movie ended, my Gay Guy Pagan pals and I reached a swift, unequivocal conclusion: Chris Hemsworth is one fine-looking man. (Look at the picture that Laura has posted below; LOOK at those biceps!) I agree with Laura that Thor easily ranks among the very best of the super-hero film oeuvre; I believe it is director Kenneth Branagh who is hugely responsible for the mythic sense of epic dimension that the movie possesses. (Check out how often Natalie Portman and her companions are positioned in shots suggestive of the eternal human yearning towards the stars and the cosmos, the heavens and ideas of Deities.) Due to the marvels (pun) of CGI-technology, the scenes in Asgard are amazing, particularly the breath-taking ones astride the Rainbow Bridge; the movie is so visually astounding, I promise waiting to see it at home on Netflix is not going to be nearly equal to watching it on a huge screen. Incredibly, I found that (for once) the 3-D effects worked extremely well, adding to the film’s overall impact (3-D has a tendency to piss me off more than to impress me, I find).

Again undoubtedly due to Branagh’s presence, the acting was a cut above the usual super-hero movie-level; Hemsworth’s Thor has a distinctive (and ultimately charming) personality, with an idiosyncratic manner-of-speech and worldview (cosmic-view?) that makes him unique in the super-hero film-universe. Jaimie Alexander is so beautiful and impressive as the warrior-Goddess Sif, someone should keep her in mind for a big-screen Wonder Woman (should the TV show fail to go over).

What I find fascinating about the movie is its depiction of Thor (in Asgard) as a spoiled, self-indulgent, disobedient royal brat- taught a lesson by the All-Father Odinn by banishment to the mortal realm (our earth), where he must live subject to the conditions of mortality until he can demonstrate the compassion and judgement that will re-earn him his Godhood. It is a bit like the expulsion of Lucifer from Heaven (equally kicked out of paradise for arrogant pride); it is also like the Underworld Descent story, in that Thor is forcibly Descended into the hellish Underworld of our Mortal Realm, where he must live subject to the conditions of mortality until he can reclaim and regain his Divinity.

In short, Thor appears to me a parable about Incarnation, as I think that we are all Divine Beings temporarily removed from our natural Realm of Divinity and deposited here in Mortal Space until we learn the lessons that will free us from subsequent Incarnation.

Obviously this is a Fantasy Adventure story and not meant to be any sort of “authentic” tale of the Teutonic Thunder-God of Nordic mythology; mention should be made of Anthony Hopkins (very thoughtful as an aging God-King, weighing his crown between his two sons Thor and Loki), and the “Odinn-Sleep” that he falls into about halfway through the movie. As this is the famous “Sleeping Trance” ascribed to the All-Father and taken as evidence of the shamanic nature of Nordic religion, Pagan movie-goers may wish to be aware.

 Posted by at 10:38 pm  Tagged with:

  6 Responses to “Thor in Review”

  1. Thor and King Lear: can there be any doubt that Kenneth Branagh (in signing on to Thor, and being the most notable Shakespearean actor/director on the modern film-scene) saw a connection between Thor and King Lear? Elaboration: (1) Odinn (Anthony Hopkins) is Lear, weighing the succession of his crown between his heirs- but instead of 3 daughters, (2) he’s also Gloucester, with 2 sons- 1 Good (but apparently improvident and headstrong), and 1 Bad (but shifty and cunning enough to masquerade as Good).
    Thor is also like Prince Hal (in Henry IV, parts I and II), who becomes King Henry V (played by Branagh, in his bravura debut film): initially too irresponsible for the throne, he must learn the sober-nature with which to occupy it.
    Thor is also like Lear in that: thinking himself Almighty, he must undergo a Rite of Debasement, in order to learn Just Humility- both parts include in significant measure an Encounter with a Storm.
    As Lear observes, gazing upon poor Mad Tom (a naked wretch in the Storm): “Is man no more than this? Consider him well- Thou art the Thing Itself; unaccomodated Man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art.” (III.iv.107-114)
    This is the lesson that Thor (in the movie) must learn, in being blasted into Human Form by the All-Father- he must learn the humility (as does Lear) of living as Unaccomodated Man.

  2. Another interesting angle, Pagan-wise, is the Super-Hero Nature of the Gods (well, this Super Advanced Peoples in Another Dimensional Universe or something)- but anyway. The movie actually opens with a little vignette in “Norway, 965 AD”; here are evil Frost Giants, menacing and tormenting poor hapless human mortals. But wait! [blare of trumpets] HERE are the Aesir (led by Mighty Odinn), who whomp ass on the Frost Giants, on behalf of poor hapless humanity.
    So, well just imagine the thanks and praise that humans will render after such a thing as this, to the “Gods” who intervened- like Super-Heroes- to save them.
    The Pagan point is- I think the Gods are willing to be Super-Heroes for us, just cause they’re That Good and They like us That Much.
    Go, Gods!!

  3. I saw this film on my birthday and it was a fantastic present. I love superhero movies, but this blew many of the good ones out of the water.

    You can keep that musclebound blond guy, though; Hiddleston’s Loki is so very beautiful.

  4. I was fascinated by Hiddleston’s performance as Loki, as well. Here is a son attempting to win the favor of the favor by creating disaster from which he can emerge as the worthy is an interesting twist to the description of Loki as the “trickster”.

  5. sorry…early in the moringing; “favor of the father” was what it was supposed to say…too much alliteration~

  6. In a lot of ways, Hiddleston has the more complicated acting part, as he has to play a duplicitous character- it definitely helps sell the character of Loki that Hiddleston is such a beautiful man, as we (like the folks of Asgard) tend to want to believe in the best of beautiful people.

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