Assuming that a “Pagan movie” is one that has something in its conception, execution, and/ or theme apparent as Pagan, or of interest to Pagans: here are a couple of “Pagan” movies released in 2012 that proved underwhelming.
As we appear to dwell within a time of renewed interest in filmatic Faerey-Story, the summer of 2012 was eagerly awaited for its “Dueling Snow Whites,” with two separate releases that sought to revisit arguably the world’s most famous Faerey-Tale. The first was Mirror, Mirror, which tried to send-up the story in a jokey, satirizing manner that didn’t really come off well. The film’s saving grace was Julia Roberts’ hilarious performance of the vain Queen as the ultimate female Power Executive. She is so brilliantly precise in every flick of her eye or vocal inflection that she steals the show right and left, leaving an emptiness in every scene after her departures. The coolest moments are the Queen’s Magickal Journeys through her enchanted mirror, to the Witch-World alternative universe of her sorceress-domain. If they could have figured out how to keep the focus on Ms. Roberts’ Wicked Queen, this movie might have come to something.
The “other Snow White movie,” Snow White and the Huntsman, took the opposite approach, and tried to make a medieval action-adventure story out of a Grimms’ Faerey-Tale. In this version of Snow White, she becomes Joan of Arc; there is no chemistry between Snow White and the Huntsman; and as with Mirror, Mirror, it is the Evil Queen (in this case, Charlize Theron) who is the most interesting thing in the film. A vampire-like Celtic Raven-Goddess of icy winter, Theron is fascinating and eerily magnetic, making everything and everyone else seem hollow behind her. One characteristic that can be used in determining a “Pagan movie” is the presence of a “Pagan sequence,” where suddenly the film will go as Pagan as all get-out: this is noticed, for instance, in 2011′s Red Riding Hood, with its Pagan “Festival” interlude. In SWATH (love a film whose title forms an acronym), the “Pagan sequence” occurs within an enchanted “Faerey Glen,” when Snow White meets a Magickal and Ancient Stag, in front of an altar-like tree. The sequence is so powerful, that it is almost not-ruined when the Dwarves start proclaiming Snow White to be the “One, the One who will save the Land.”
The thing that becomes apparent watching The Hobbit-the-Movie versus Lord of the Rings-the-Movie, is that the original works are very different. Whereas Lord of the Rings (composed at the start of World War II) carries the dark analogy of Hitler, The Hobbit (published two years before MGM’s The Wizard of Oz) is basically a fantasy-adventure. The premise (dwarves reclaiming a dwarvish kingdom from a dragon) is that of Faerey-Story; there is a certain whimsical quality to shots of the very tall Gandalf in the midst of characters who stand under four feet tall; and except for some scary orcs, the “bad guys” encountered in Hobbit are trolls and goblins depicted as more comic than menacing. The only truly sinister scene occurs in the justly praised encounter between Bilbo and Gollum, the pivotal moment that sets into motion the Lord of the Rings series.
Certain extremely Pagan elements stand out, however, such as Cate Blanchett in an awesome cameo as the most potent image of an Elvish Lady (a Celtic Faerey-Woman) ever put on film; check out her opening shot, as the Titania-like Moon-Goddess, slowing turning around in a circle to meet Gandalf (they must have had her on some sort of turnstile, as she could not have pivoted on her feet that smoothly). I don’t remember if this detail was in the book so much, but Pagans will recognize the symbol that Gandalf inscribes on Bilbo’s door as the Rune Fehu (associated with wealth, through an abundance of cattle). The most unique thing about The Hobbit is Ian McKellen’s brilliant return as Gandalf (which name Pagans will recognize from the Nordic Eddas, as meaning “Sorcerer-Elf”). Watching a Wizard guide a film, impacting the action through feats of magick and sorcery, is a rare Pagan film-treat; arguably Sir Ian is the most potent Wizard ever put on film. If The Hobbit had been filmed before Lord of the Rings, it might seem much more exciting; as it is, while it’s not a bad movie (and it’s excessively Pagan), it doesn’t seem as terrific.