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15 October 2007

Synthetic Choronzon

Terminator_15x_3
"They [the Dark Brothers] keep themselves from the kisses of my Mother Babylon, and in their lonely fortresses they pray to the false moon. And they bind themselves together with an oath and with a great curse.
...
Yet of their own poison do they perish, and in their lonely fortresses shall they be eaten up by Time that hath cheated them to serve him, and by that mighty devil Choronzon, their master, whose name is the Second Death..." -
Aleister Crowley, The Book of Thoth (Egyptian Tarot)

The intention of this series of blog entries--which are hopefully evolving into more fleshed out and full length studies as comprehensive articles--is (in part) an exploration into the juncture of film studies, ‘esoterica’ and the national security state.

So far, the ‘esoteric’ and national security aspects have been dominant. However, it is my hope to bring the aforementioned film studies aspects to the forefront now, and have the other elements revolve around the central focus--which will hopefully, from here on end, predominantly include the study of film.

What follows is a brief shot sequence analysis of director James Cameron’s 1984 film: The Terminator.

‘The Last Day of Disco’ Sequence

The time code for the beginning of the sequence in question logs in at approximately 00:34:00 and ends at approximately 00:35:30. The shot is  probably more commonly recalled by fans of  The Terminator franchise as the ‘Tech-Noir’ sequence, which is also the name of the disco where the gun battle between the Terminator unit and future warrior ‘Reese’ takes place.

On the ‘Special Edition’ DVD, the particular chapter in question is rather derisively titled ‘The Last Day of Disco.’ ‘Tech-Noir’ may also be an allusion to the 1982 film Blade Runner--although within the context of Arnold Schwarzenegger firing an automatic weapon in all directions while a large and rather garish neon ‘Tech-Noir’
sign is incessantly flashing directly behind him, this possible attempt at homage to a then emergent genre-- ‘cyberpunk--’ is perhaps, at best, self-conscious 'kitsch--' or maybe a direct result of budgetary constraints.

Terminator_18xx_3  
click to 'enlarge'

The notion of ‘kitsch--’ though within an entirely different historical framework --will make itself quite evident later on in this exploration; specifically from the use of mise en scène (particularly the placement of people) for this important sequence.

The narrative context of the 'Tech-Noir' sequence is pivotal and decisive for the Terminator’s ‘search pattern’ mission in locating and ‘terminating’ Sarah Connor. After ‘terminating’ all the other women named Sarah Connor-- with the assistance of a telephone directory--the cybernetic organism has finally ‘zeroed’ in on the real target of his search and destroy mercenary mission: the real Sarah Connor; soon-to-be mother of John Connor, leader of a future human resistance in an apocalyptic and genocidal war against machine intelligence apparatuses.

At the beginning of the aforementioned time code (approximately 00:34:00) the spectator sees an eye-level camera angle at a medium, then full shot, and a basic pan as the Terminator slowly surveys the human contents of the ‘Tech Noir’ club, looking for his intended target. He is surrounded by disco dancers and the frame rate is ‘over cranked’ to further induce an oneric quality in an already chaotic and multi-chromatic cacophony typical to nightclub depravity.

The supreme interest for the purposes of this analysis, however, is the rather peculiar utilization of mise en scène  in the form of a young woman who may perhaps be mistaken for a 'disco version' member of the National Socialist Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) German Girl’s League, dancing beside the Terminator at a critical juncture in his search and destroy mission. This character appears at the very moment the T-101 Cyberdyne Systems unit makes a positive identification of Sarah Connor and the possible message conveyed (though on a perhaps unconscious level) is that the appearance of what looks like a Hitlerjugend from the German Girl's League, circa late 1930's, has further empowered and strengthened Arnold Schwarzenegger in his quest to finally rid the earth of humans and replace them with superior cybernetic organisms.

Gerwomen03_4
Hitlerjugend from the
German Girl's League

Terminator_05x_9
Compare with disco dancer at 'Tech Noir' club, before the first attempted 'hit' by the
Terminator on Sarah Connor.

Considering the film was released in 1984, a historically and literarily fateful year, such subliminal manipulation of spectator consciousness raises many questions regarding the intent of the film direction by James Cameron and the possible influence of  soon-to-be superstar and Hitler (as well as cigar) aficionado, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the decision to utilize overtly National Socialist semiotics in the creation of this film.

The use of National Socialist imagery in this sequence brings to mind the late veteran BBC broadcaster Alistair Cooke's comments regarding the 'recall' victory of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003. Here is an excerpt from one of his last Letter from America broadcasts, dated October 13, 2003:

Some thoughtful, if pessimistic, people see in the Schwarzenegger triumph a darker vision. He has admitted to his early admiration of Hitler, especially of Hitler's power to rouse a despairing, poverty-stricken people and lead them on to visionary heights. The thing he most admired about Hitler was the "Fuhrer princip" - the strong leader principle. Schwarzenegger wants to be that strong leader. So we must wait and see whether in the course of his governorship we shall see democracy invigorated or the emergence of the first American fuhrer.

Soon after his death from 'lung cancer' in 2004, Alistair Cooke's remains were needlessly defiled and stolen by body snatchers, who surgically removed his bones and replaced them with PVC piping. This was apparently a fairly large and profitable enterprise and the men involved may possibly have had gangland affiliations--selling bones and organs for considerable profit to transplant companies. The cancer Alistair Cooke was suffering from, however, made his bones unsuitable for any form of transplant therapy, thus making this ghoulish defilement even more bizarre and inexplicable.  

This 'scheme,' which involved thousands of corpses, including Cooke's, was rather oddly described by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes as 'something out of a cheap horror movie.' Mr. Hynes final statement to the press in the news story referenced above was...'
this was no bad movie. This was for real.'

This last quotation from the DA's office segues rather 'nicely' into the next installment of the Terminator franchise, T4. T4, as I have previously stated, is also possibly very 'real' and is very much currently 'in production.'

The pending release of Terminator 4 or T4 and the abbreviation for the film (T4)--including some of the initial concept poster art, rely heavily on and play off  of  conceptions that are already impregnated with the semiotics of a past and presently reemerging ideology of hatred, possession, occupation and control.

Peter Levenda most eloquently elaborates on a concept in Sinister Forces: A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft (Book One: The Nine) that I have also independently referred to in the past, and it's worth repeating here again for the sake of clarification:

...the late investigative journalist Gary Webb once wrote that research into the spectral realms of covert operations and parapolitics (or deep politics) will, in many instances, never really yield the cut and dry empirical data as evidence required, for example, in a court of law. There is no judge or jury here; therefore, the subject of this particular investigation need not be found guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. Such is the nature of this particular Beast. Unfortunately, many 'consumers' of what basically constitutes speculative inquiry do not understand this concept.

Note:

The following is an update to the Synthetic Choronzon entry and consists of a second shot analysis for the first installment in the Terminator ‘franchise.’ Unfortunately, due to time constraints and other factors, this analysis has not been entirely completed to my satisfaction and the ‘Choronzon’ aspect has not, as of yet, been fully explored. These matters will be addressed in a subsequent update.

‘Not  Mom’  Sequence


The time code for this sequence begins at 1:16:14 and ends at approximately 1:16:58.

The ‘Not Mom’ sequence is composed of two scenes. The first scene begins with a medium close up of Sarah Connor sitting on the corner of a bed at the hotel where she and Reese are hiding out. She has just emerged from the shower, wearing only a white bath towel.

Sarah Connor is speaking on a ‘yellow’ telephone to her ‘mother.’  In the over all conceptual context of the film’s narrative, the color yellow is significant because it may perhaps represent the yellow ‘star of David’ patch assigned to those deemed to be of Jewish ethnicity or religion by the National Socialist regime; this patch, of course, was a symbol of persecution. (similarly, in Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro wears some form of  yellow 'military' patch with gorilla face on it similar to that found in the Planet of the Apes on the sleeve of his army jacket.)  As mentioned previously, there perhaps exists a possible conscious and overt utilization of National Socialist semiotics and related historical references by director James Cameron and lead actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator installment. Along similar lines, it is interesting to note that there exists considerable controversy as to whether identifying one as ‘Jewish’ can be a legitimate designation of racial or religious affiliation. The mainstream has accepted both racial and religious signifiers as valid. However, some ‘scholars,’ especially those the mainstream might designate as ‘radical right,’ reject the use of the term ‘Jewish’ as a valid racial signifier. This argument is a bit too complex to flesh out in detail at the moment, but it might serve as an interesting undercurrent for the purposes of this film, vis-à-vis its theme of a 'future' machine war against 'humans.'

The shot appears to utilize a ‘practical’ light source, probably a standard lamp or bedside night light. The rest of the hotel room is photographed in fairly low light, furthering the photographic continuity in an attempt at a ‘future-noir’ aesthetic. To paraphrase James Cameron in the ‘Special Features’ section of the DVD, most of the film was shot using low light or ‘low key’ lighting effects and the majority of the action takes place at night.

Sarah Connor agrees to divulge the telephone number of the hotel where she is hiding out to her ‘mother,’ which in actually is the Terminator simulating her mother’s voice. Again, within the narrative context, this scene immediately follows a sex scene involving Connor and Reece, in which the spectator is lead to believe is the moment of conception of John Connor. With this telephone scene, a blurring of the lines of distinction has occurred between male, female, mother, father and the conception of the child, as the Terminator has supplanted Connor’s real mother by imitating her voice immediately after Sarah Connor becomes an actual ‘future’ mother or ‘mother of the future,’  following the point of impregnation by Reece. The implication is that of a symbiotic relationship between Connor and Terminator: the cybernetic organism has given birth and ‘mothered’ Sarah Connor directly after her sex scene with Reece, which establishes her legacy in the Terminator mythos as ‘Mother of the Future.’ An interesting parallel between National Socialism, European Jewry and the formation of the state of Israel, including the subsequent history of the Middle East can be drawn at this juncture as another overriding  conceptually theme--however, explicit details in this regard will be fleshed out in a subsequent update. 

The telephone scene cuts to a very slow pan and tracking shot of yet another dark interior utilizing what again appears to be another ‘practical’ lighting source in the form of a flame generated from a fire place. The slow pan and tracking finally ends  and the camera tilts upward to finally reveal the actual source of the 'voice' at the other end: Terminator. The film script describes the shot thusly:

The pan comes to a table.  Smashed plates.  Spilled coffee.
A spatter of blood.  A phone.  It follows the phone cord onto Terminator in close-up as he continues in a perfect simulation of her mother's voice...

Terminator (Mother's voice)
I love you too, sweetheart.

Although there is considerable attempt made at ‘low-key’ and even somewhat ‘chiaroscuro’ lighting effects in this sequence and generally throughout the film, it is still a conventional Hollywood film; therefore lighting techniques that threaten to detract from ‘the demands of the narrative’ have been traditionally discouraged by the Hollywood studio system. As Susan Hayward writes in Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts:

The idea that cinema-going and watching must be safe, unchallenging and non-disruptive is a key ideological aspect of what we call the seamlessness of Hollywood and mainstream cinema.
(Hayward, 234)

Hayward further states that essentially this notion of 'seamlessness' for the benefit of ‘realism’ is one of paradoxical hypocrisy, because this particular Hollywood construct—with all its technical formalities and technological manipulations—is presenting the spectator with a completely artificial and synthetic product--an artifice that, more-often-than-not, does not mimic ‘reality’ at all.

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