CINEASTE | I Origins
CINEASTE BY AESTHETIST FEATURES THE MOST STYLISH FILMS OF ALL TIME. WE SELECT MOVIES THAT HAVE THEIR OWN AESTHETIC AND STRONG ATMOSPHERE. CINEASTE IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE AND APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY IN ART OF MOVING IMAGES.
Balancing between science and blind faith, facts and emotions, I Origins, a 2014 American science fiction drama, follows an eye-obsessed biologist who tries to disprove Intelligent Design by showing that the complexity of the human eye could have evolved through natural selection. Though various cultures have viewed the eyes as the one sticking point to discredit evolution and the proof of God, the true scientist Dr. Ian Grey is eager to get to the bottom of the evolution of the eye and find the origin.
But the life of Ian is surrounded by indescribable, almost mysterious incidences because of the woman he’s obsessed with. Sofi is a free spirit, a whimsical artsy type, who believes in reincarnation. He meets her at a party, and falls in love with her unforgettable green eyes, but she abruptly disappears. Then, one day a strange coincidence brings him to the billboard cosmetics ad featuring her unmistakable eyes, giving Ian a chance to finally find her. So Ian’s story sends him down a very different path than the scientific one on which Grey began.
You ever feel like when you met someone, they fill this hole inside of you, and then when they're gone... you feel that space painfully vacant?
The film is not a love story. And it’s not a true science fiction movie, either. The director of the film, Mike Cahill, is far more captivated by supernatural theories than he is with the mysteries of science. I Origins is rather a philosophical film, which doesn’t give you the answers, but offers you to step back from thinking in a particular way and rethink the things that we often take for granted. It might seem a bit primitive, especially the way that opposites (two young women – the “spiritual model” and the “scientific technician”), or some symbols (an open door for an open mind) were used. And even if it’s all just a cliche, each of us still asks those questions: what if eye patterns are a blueprint for something beyond science? How can we feel that we’ve known somebody from the past life? Why do we believe in soul?
Cinematography of the film is not only beautiful, but also symbolic. The light in the lab seems unemotional, while we see the warm and dim light of Ian’s room, when he talks about the feelings for Sofi; we notice that pale, almost churchly daylight coming from the window in Sofi’s apartment, when she speaks about the angel’s photo as an evidence of the spiritual world. Ian’s eyes seem black and everything around him turns dark after the tragedy. The whole space in which Ian exists every minute of the film seems emotionally “reacting” on everything happening inside of the protagonist’s mind.
When the big bang happened, all the atoms in the universe, they were all smashed together into one little dot that exploded outward. So my atoms and your atoms were certainly together then, and, who knows, probably smashed together several times in the last 13.7 billion years. My atoms have always loved your atoms.
The purpose of the film – to tell a personal story about a big science-fiction idea – demands a huge effort and a specific visual style. It need to combine three distinct elements – a scientific research process, a love story, and a spiritual journey, without becoming a chaos. That’s why the eyes are not just the subject of doctor’s studies – they create the basis of the story. They are the puzzle we try to understand and the lens we are looking through, the signifier and the signified.
We gaze into the eyes, trying to read some hidden information. The very first thing we see in I Origins is a close-up of eyes with sectoral heterochromia (it means a beautiful pattern in the iris where a small part of it is a different colour than the rest). And the camera becomes the eye, giving the impression of presence by the way it softly shakes.
Actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey, whose playing Sofi and whose eye is on the poster of “I Origins,” in one interview was asked how she felt when she saw the poster for the first time, and she said, “It made me feel shy. It meant everyone would look into my soul, all day long.