Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Symbols & Analysis: Penny Dreadful 'The Day Tennyson Died,' Season 3, Episode 1

Two of the books we are going to be exploring in this series this season is Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hydewhich you can download for free from Amazon for your e-reader at this link.  We will also be getting a good deal out of Bram Stoker's Draculawhich you can download for free for your e-reader from Amazon at this link.At the time of the original posting of this post, I haven't finished everything I want to say, so it will be significantly updated next week, but you can at least begin thinking about some of these issues now. Dracula is incredibly good, and you might want to take a look at The Dead Travel Fast because we are all ready seeing elements in the series employed from the novel that we might not have time to cover later but is essential to understanding why Dracula is such an evil villain.
Why has Vanessa fallen so low? Why does the Devil and Dracula want Vanessa so badly? Why is The Creature (hereafter, John Clare) on a ship stuck in ice? Why does John Clare break the neck of the boy, killing him? Why does Dr. Frankenstein send for Dr. Jeckyll and why is Dr. Jeckyll an Indian? Why is Ethan being taken home to his father and why is Hecate following him? Why does Kaetenay insist that Sir Malcolm come with him to America? Why does the story begin on the day that the poet Lord Alfred Tennyson died? Why was Vanessa scratching her hand? Here is the full episode of Season 3, Episode 1:
The first shot of this episode is the staircase; why? Stairs mean that either we are going down, or going up. Isn't that nice? But no, really, either we are going to be called to ascend to a higher state of conscious--the narrative wants to draw our attention to something that is going to require our full mental cooperation and intellectual exploration--or else the narrative is going to descend into the region of the appetites, that which is forbidden and taboo. The next shot, of mail being stuffed through the postal slot, then falling onto a neglected pile of unopened correspondence isn't just an indicator to Vanessa Ives, but also to us, the viewer: the piled up mail are invitations to decode "the written word," the books, poetry and plays from which all these episodes draw their material. As Vanessa has been ignoring Dr. Lyle's cards, are we going to ignore the invitation to ascend to a higher, more engaging relationship with the artistry of the show, or just let it collect dust and webs, like the house on Grandage Street? So, what exactly are we meant to engage?
Literally, everything.
This image comes from a later episode, however, there are two important points we can consider now. First, the flesh and black color scheme mirrors that of the poster above, which is the main poster for the season. Secondly, when we first see Vanessa in this season, she has locked herself in the house at Grandage Place, as if she is trying to protect herself from the world. In this later image, it's as if the world has locked her out, and the world is trying to protect itself from her.
Now, during Season 2, the front door was menacing, because it was bolted and locked, potentially a means for the Nightcomers to enter and destroy Vanessa; now, it's abandoned and only the mail delivery is there, but the pile up denotes something sinister just the same. The white-draped furniture is like a herd of ghosts, We see the decanter, covered in webs, so we know Vanessa hasn't been drinking, but then, we go upstairs, and here we are meant to really engage the film makers: dirty dishes piled up, and a tray of cigarettes (please see caption below). The plates indicate that Vanessa hasn't been taking care of herself but, like the unopened mail, she also hasn't been eating as she should (again, please see caption below). When she goes downstairs, it's a sign that her appetites are calling her, but is it just the appetite for food?
Generally speaking, cigarettes, cigars, pipes and the like, tend to symbolize that a person is "taking something in," they are inhaling what there is to be meditated upon, then exhaling what they have pondered, releasing it back into the world: consider Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf in The Hobbit, and their smoking after the Battle of the Five Armies; they are taking in what has happened and trying to make sense of it (the smoke rings they blow give "structure" and meaning to that which can't really be structured, like the massive death they have just experienced). In the opening montage, we see a tray full of Vanessa's cigarette butts, so she has been smoking, which was strictly taboo for women at this time (this image above is from the opening credits of the series). The act of Vanessa smoking summarizes her faith quite well: she takes it then, then release it into the world (her faith is what Ethan, John Clare and Sir Malcolm tend to think of with Vanessa, even Dr. Frankenstein, so she's evangelizing in a way) EVEN WHILE, at the same time, Vanessa is attracted to the taboo and forbidden. She always comes back because she knows what the true Light is. How many times has Vanessa said/claimed she has lost her faith? Too many times to count, but that's okay: if she wasn't in a position to feel like she had lost her faith, then  she wouldn't have any (you can't lose what you never had to begin with). The truth is, and this is really important, Vanessa hasn't lost her faith at this point, the Lord is allowing her to rest from the trials of Evelyn Poole and the entourage of witches. Just as we saw Vanessa walking through the snow in the park at the start of Season 2, when she was in a state of grace (the frozen snow) even though it probably didn't feel like it to her, she was being given a rest to prepare her for the trial of the Poole women. At the start of Season 3, we find that Vanessa has also been resting again, because she needs it. One of the Desert Fathers, the earliest Christian ascetics and monks living in the desert,, told his disciples that they needed to rest in-between their spiritual battles or else, like a bow that has been over-used, they would become worthless. Vanessa can be angry with God, Vanessa can hate God, but she hasn't lost her faith; feelings of anger against God are just that: feelings. They are fleeting and important to us as humans, but systematic "loss of faith" is intellectual and employed by our free will, not a circumstance or situation that has left us with a bitter taste in our mouth. So, when we see Vanessa, in the house at Grandage Place, she has been at rest; it might not be a peaceful rest, because she is called to greater spiritual battles than she has heretofore fought, but it isn't the ennui which Ferdinand Lyle suggests she has and from which he himself had suffered. 'Boredom' is a discontent of the secular world, and a far cry from the exhaustion of the soul which Vanessa undergoes in the transition between Season 2 and 3. 
From the grocery delivery box, Vanessa takes the bottle of milk and drinks it--symbolic of "mother's milk" (a foreshadowing of her meeting with Dr. Seward and her being an adoptive "mother figure") and the "milk of human kindness" which she will drink up from Dr. Lyle and his concern for her in the next scene--and the "bread of life," the symbol of the Eucharist, Vanessa's Catholic faith. When Christ had been in the Wilderness for 40 days, He was hungry, hungry to do His Father's Will, and so, too, is Vanessa (Vanessa, like Ethan in New Mexico Territory, is in the Wilderness just as Ethan is, but her's is of the mind and soul). She might push it away at times ("I find it hard to believe that I am the object of an eternal Satanic quest") but fighting this fight is the Father's Will for her and she does fight it. What about the ringing of the bells?
The Day Tennyson Died. The entire episode is dedicated to this event, this real world event. When a work of art--especially one working with the supernatural, as Penny Dreadful does--incorporates something from reality, like the real death date of a real poet, it wants to remind you that just because the narrative gives us vampires and witches, doesn't mean that they don't exist in reality. I think, that, as the season progresses, we will find that the theme is, "Tis better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all," because having loved someone makes us a better, bigger person. Even though we empty ourselves and give love to someone else, we become a bigger person when we do so. For example, Sir Malcolm's love for Mina and Peter makes him capable of giving love to Vanessa and Ethan. Vanessa's love for Ethan makes her capable of not thinking about the witches hunting her, but only concerned for Ethan and what he's going through. Ethan's love for Vanessa makes him willing to sacrifice himself to face the devil and try to kill him to free Vanessa once and for all, even if it's going to mean Ethan's eternal damnation (and I think Ethan will be willing to use Hecate for this purpose). 
When Dr. Lyle stands at the door knocking, it is like Christ who said in Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door knocking. Anyone who hears my voice and open the door, I will come in," and this is exactly what happens with Dr. Lyle threatening Vanessa that he isn't going to leave, so she lets him in; this is a sign that Vanessa's spiritual exercises are about to begin again, because Christ has, once again, entered her heart and means to prepare a place for Himself, again. Church bells are tolling, and because church bells are blessed, they drive away demons (I have had too many personal experiences with this to ever doubt this be true, for I know it in the deepest abyss of my heart, always) and so, the next chapter begins of Vanessa's Dark Night Of the Soul, but not alone. "And so we walk alone," we see her saying at the recap from last season, but we are never alone, even when we want to be: there is always at least two others with us: the devil, and God, and both are desperately working, trying to get us to admit them into our company, which leads us to Sir Malcolm.
The first shot we are provided of Ethan's journey in this season mirrors the poster for last season: just as Vanessa walked through the snow on a trail of blood, so the train steams through the desert on its track. What do we know of Ethan's father? That he is an industrialist and, like Ethan himself, chooses to leave no one alive at the scene of the crime. The brutality of the men sent by Ethan's father, is comparable only to the brutality of Ethan when he has turned into a wolf and kills everyone in sight; this is something we will have to keep in mind as the story progresses. The image at the top isn't from Episode 1, however, it is the best I could find for comparing the wilderness in which Ethan is travelling to that in which Vanessa has been living. Why is "the Wilderness" a spiritual symbol (like the 40 years of wandering of the Children of Israel and Christ in the desert for 40 days)? It is impossible for the demons to hide themselves in the nothingness. It's possible that, when Ethan  sees his father, he's going to be a symbol for God the Father; why? Recall that in an earlier episode, Ethan received a telegram from his dad telling him that the marshalls had been paid off and for him to come home. This is basically what Jesus tells us: I have paid the debt for justice on your behalf, come home to me. The story may take a very different turn, but this is at least a possibility.
Sir Malcolm certainly thought he was alone, but alas, there is a devil (the robbers ready to take his life for his money) and a representative of God, Kaetenay, who saves his life, both from the robbers and from a lack of direction. It's important to note that, whereas Sir Malcolm couldn't save his own children, Mina and Peter, or Gladys his wife, he was able to save Vanessa (twice, from Mina and from the Nightcomers) his adopted daughter, and now he's being called to save Ethan, his adopted son (and when Kaetenay mentions to Malcolm that he needs to go save his son Ethan, Ethan does indeed become Malcolm's son by right of bond and shared experience). Perhaps Sir Malcom all ready knows this, even before Kaetenay introduces himself and his proposal, and that's why Sir Malcolm didn't bother to retrieve the body of his son Peter, who died when they were in Africa exploring (and which Malcolm had asked Ethan during Season 1 to accompany him). Now, what about The Creature, John Clare?
Why is Dr. Jeckyll an Indian in this series? Just as Dr. Jeckyll had an "alter ego" in the story, so, too, the British Empire: the white citizens in the United Kingdom, and the Indian citizens in its Indian Empire. This duality caused problems which the Crown was unwilling to admit for a long time, but this is at least one way of understanding it. Knowing that Dr. Jeckyll is a "half-breed," (his father would be English and his mother Indian, since "Jeckyll" isn't an Indian name) contributes to his Mr. Hyde alter-ego but also his driving concern for unity and harmony. We should also remember that Dr. Jeckyll, as an Indian from India, will mirror Kaetenay, a Native American Indian from America.
When we find John Clare, he's on a ship, frozen in ice, with three different kinds of passengers on board: two men who want to resort to their animal instincts and eat human flesh, a doctor who refuses to do so, and a young boy who is sick and dying. What happens in this bizarre scene? We know that in the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelly's "Wretch" goes to the North Pole, so audience members weren't surprised to see this happening at the end of Season 2; however, what has really happened is a metaphor of the soul, The Creature's soul, and that is why this scene is so remarkable.
"Slaves, in all but name," as Sir Malcolm mentions to Vanessa in his letter. This image is a close-up of the portrait of Dorian Gray; why put it here? Because everyone in the episode has a slavery which they are fighting.
Speaking of Dorian, even though he hasn't appeared yet formally in the series, we do see a young girl go down the stairs of his mansion and meet Lilly; we know the girl's name is Justine, and from a sneak peek of the next episode, it appears that she is the same heroine of Justine by the Marquis de Sade, for whom "sado-masochism" derives its "sado."
Just as Vanessa is lost in a wilderness of dust, dishes and darkness, Ethan in a wilderness of sand, snakes and wolves, Malcolm in a wilderness of jungle, robbers and slaves, Victor in a wilderness of work, love and narcotics, so, too, John Clare is lost in a wilderness of cannibalism, paralysis and an icy hell (yes, Dante's devil in Inferno is frozen, just like the ship the passengers are on). We can take the first passengers we see on the ship, the dead ones above deck, to be all the people John Clare has killed, his sins laid bare for all the world to see.
Obviously John Clare can't just get off the boat and hope to swim back to England; when something "absurd" or utterly improbable like this happens in a work of art, it's usually an indication that some literary device has been introduced, and you are being asked to consider the situation, not as reason would examine it, rather, in more metaphysical and symbolic terms. We don't have to worry about John Clare swimming through the arctic ocean because he's only in this frozen hell within himself and with his own thoughts and emotions.
The two passengers who are willing to commit cannibalism symbolize John Clare's own animal instincts--the same instinct causing him to kill Proteus, Van Helsing and the Putneys (John Clare was so significantly stronger than they, he didn't have to kill them to escape, but he killed them in revenge and anger, not to save himself from being caged), along with his willingness to kill Victor and Brona (so he could have a bride). The doctor, on the other hand, is that part of John Clare he has cultivated from the books he has read, the part of him he hopes will "heal" his soul (hence why he appears as a doctor), the refined part of him that is humanity at its best.
What about the boy?
When, in his memory, he looks up and sees himself in the mirror, this is John Clare seeing himself as he really is: a kind, gentle, loving and compassionate person full of concern and good will towards others, married to the human race, not at war with it like Lilly and Dorian.
We know children symbolize the future, and as such, they can also symbolize hope. In other words, John Clare's own hope in his future is sick and dying (the sick and dying boy), and his vindictive, animal instincts (the two passengers who want to eat the boy) are ready to devour what hope John Clare still has and take out their misery on the entire world. In standing up to his own animal instincts (when he doesn't let them kill the boy), John Clare experiences a miracle, and we know it's a miracle because the song he hums begins with the words, "Guardian angels," even though he doesn't believe in God, and he receives a blessing in the form of a part of his memory. What is in the memory? A different boy, his boy, and so, to break the neck of the sick and dying boy is actually good for John Clare to do because we know the neck symbolizes that which leads us on, so John has broken his bond to a sick and dying hope for the future (a mate who will share his accursed misery with him in the shadows and darkness) and embraced the living and viable hope for his own family and home where he belongs. As John Clare walks away from the ship, we can see the lines in the snow of the ice, and they look like the stitch marks on John Clare's own body, so that's how we know--by the markings on the bleak landscape--that this ice ship scene has been a metaphor.
The "familiar" from Season 1, "Fenton," was very much a Renfield figure from the Dracula novel. Why is Renfield important? We see him take the shillings from patients who have paid him for Dr Seward's services (embezzlement) and seek out a woman to pay for sex; Renfield prostituting this woman is essentially what he will be doing to Vanessa, but it also makes a clear and dramatic statement that there is no such thing as a "private sin," whatever vice we have that we think we can control in private, is going to come back to get us. Had Renfield not been in a state of committing mortal sin with that woman (who mirrors the woman from the beginning of the episode who told Sir Malcolm she needed money for her baby and he could "f*ck" her) this woman becomes an instrument of sin rather than of grace. Whereas Sir Malcolm refused the "invitation" from the woman and was saved by Kaetenay, Renfield acts on the sin and is condemned to serving Dracula. 
When Vanessa goes to meet Dr. Seward, Seward--who is a a character in the novel Dracula--tells her that she is unhappy because she is eating her own tail, and offers that Vanessa can either pay her ten shillings or go and have her teeth fixed. The truth is, Dr. Seward is going to fix Vanessa's teeth herself: we know that the teeth/mouth symbolize the appetites, and describing Vanessa as a "snake eating its own tail" is to identify that Vanessa has self-destructive appetites, so they are going to work on correcting Vanessa's desires and what she wants from life. How does Dr. Seward come up with her diagnosis of Vanessa so quickly? Vanessa is a typical Scorpio female (Scorpio as in the Zodiac sign), attracted to the taboo and sex, the darkness, resurrection, death and mysticism; this is the reason why Vanessa draws a scorpion in her own blood in Season 2. So this wasn't difficult for Dr. Seward (who was the Cut-Wife in Season 2 and an occultist) to pick out. The bigger question is, why was Vanessa scratching her hand?
Some are all ready suggesting that Dr. Alexander Sweet is Dracula. I would point out, however, that doesn't seem likely given that Dracula can't go out into daylight (which is why he has the familiars, like that strange pale man and pale boy who do errands for him, and Renfield). There is, however, another villain that Dr. Sweet could very well be: Charles Darwin. The author of Origin of the Species had published his work and it's possible that originator of the theory of evolution will try and steal Vanessa away from God with science. 
As Vanessa correctly points out, it is a phobia. Either Vanessa is trying to relieve the irritation of something she "took"--like her seduction of Mina's fiancee--or Vanessa is "itching" to do something (like clean the house) but doesn't know what. Vanessa isn't used to being idle, and we have seen that she's done nothing since Sir Malcolm left, however, it's probably the "stealing" of Mina's fiancee that Vanessa is still plagued by, and it's possible--not probable, but possible--that Jonathan Hawker will turn up one of these episodes.
Vanessa cleaning the house is, like John Clare being on the ship in ice, a metaphor of her soul. It's not just that she's cleaning the house, or cleaning her soul. "Work, love. These are the basics, without one, there is neurosis," Carl Jung wrote, and Vanessa has had neither work nor love in her life since Sir Malcolm left. She received a good dose of love when Dr. Lyle came by and directed her to Dr. Seward, and then, when Dr. Seward took her case and told her to come every other day at 10, that provided Vanessa with sufficient structure in her life again, a purpose and an outlet, that she could feel her life pointed in the right direction and she has embraced that. That doesn't mean it's going to last. 
In the meantime, there are still nine more episodes, and we are being promised with the story of how Ethan Chandler/Talbot became a werewolf, and we will discuss his story in greater depth then; hopefully, we will also discover what role Ferdinand Lyle will be playing this season.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Queen Takes Queen: The Huntsman Winter's War

If Freya reminds you of Elsa from the animated film Frozen, that's not a coincidence; why? Elsa was originally cast as a villain in Frozen; why? Because she froze everything, a traditional symbol of socialism (because nothing grows under socialist rule except the bank accounts of the Party members; the economy doesn't grow, education doesn't expand, people grow, but they grow hard in their hearts like Freya does). The Huntsman Winter's War, then, is almost like a public service announcement trying to tell people that they shouldn't like Frozen, which is possibly why people didn't go to see it: they prefer to feel rather than think. Whenever there are siblings in a narrative, especially when those siblings are in conflict with one another, it means  we are seeing two things that are related, but not identical, such as different forms of government. The image above demonstrates how both Ravenna and Freya are two faces of the same tyranny: there might be different features between the two, but they are the same.
The Huntsman Winter's War opens with a scene with which we are familiar: Ravenna (Charlize Theron) tempting a king during a chess game, and then killing him. Why? We know Ravenna is the very face of power-hunger, but, again, why? Consistent with Snow White and the Huntsman, Ravenna presents herself to the king she's about to kill as the "pawn that brings down a kingdom," that is, socialism, who mobilizes those who feel themselves to be pawns in society against those they identify as being powerful, the kings. Ravenna's second introduces her sister Freya (Emily Blunt) who is pregnant out of wedlock (again, socialism always encourages promiscuity because it's a easier life than chastity and women who get pregnant become dependent upon the government for support); then, Ravenna kills the baby, and we know that socialist countries have the highest abortion rates because the government is determined to control the population and not let anyone take their place (which the infant daughter will do when she grows and becomes fairest herself). So, what about Freya: is she a good queen, or a bad queen? 
According to Freya, Ravenna always lets her win in chess; why? For two reasons. First, Freya isn't challenged to become a better player if she's going to win anyway, so Ravenna keeps her weak; secondly, it provides Freya with a false sense of security that her sister loves her because she lets her win and Ravenna would never do anything to harm her sister, like the horrible things Ravenna does to kings. Now, please notice the image above. When Ravenna holds her sister after Freya faints from seeing the baby's death, Ravenna appears to be comforting Freya,... is she? Please note the wool wrap Ravenna wears in this image: the wool is a natural substance, whereas all of Ravenna's clothes and hair look very unnatural for a woman; just so, the naturalness of this wool looks unnatural on Ravenna, just as Ravenna being concerned for Freya's health and welfare is unnatural to Ravenna's true nature. 
She is a potentially good person who makes a bad decision,... a really bad decision, and we, the viewer, are in a position to make an equally bad decision. When we see the young man Freya was in love with, caught after setting the baby's crib on fire, he says, "I had no choice," and we think it's because he was all ready engaged and he couldn't break the engagement because of being a noble and his family; later, in the film however, we learn that it was Ravenna who cast a spell on him to kill the child, and when he tells Freya, "I had no choice," it's because he was under Ravenna's control (the control of socialism to kill the baby, because that is what socialism does). So, why is the baby so important?
One of the ways to tell a good film is when there is a character or scene that acts as a macro-scene for the entire narrative: in other words, the scene is the "other words" of the story, the to-the-point articulation, the "draw-me-a-picture-so-I-can-understand better"instance. This scene above, with the goblin, is exactly that. We learn that the mirror shows the potential of everything, not what is, but what the potential of something/someone is, and so, that mirror is the film itself, showing us the potential of Ravenna and Freya in our world. The mirror causes everyone to kill each other, and what happens in the film? Ravenna and Freya kill one another (Freya through letting Eric and Sara kill Ravenna instead of uniting against Eric and Sara with her sister). The goblins we see above are a metaphor for both Ravenna and Freya because they both crave power and wealth (Ravenna wants the wealth of gold, Freya wants the wealth that comes with control [of the emotions and over people's emotions]). The goblin jumps around like an ape (which we will probably see in the upcoming Tarzan film); why does it jump around like an ape? Because Ravenna has no regard for human life, look at how effortless is was for her to kill her sister's baby, her own niece? Freya tries to destroy the most human of all emotions: love. Each sister contributes to the dehumanization of humanity, and so it's their own humanity which ends up being destroyed.
Children symbolize the future. Ravenna can't have children, so she views those who do have children as being weak for being devoted to their children instead of power over the multitudes. Now, what is it the mirror does throughout the film? It causes people to kill each other. This is always what happens in socialism: all socialist/communist leaders start killing their own people and the people want to kill them. Why? The mirror shows potential, it doesn't show reality (socialists hate reality because they can't bend it to their will and make it be what they want it to be). Ravenna wants a kingdom where she holds all power; she can't be. Freya wants a kingdom where there is loyalty, but no love: she can't. Loyalty is based on love, and love must be loyal, or it isn't love. So, why is it that Freya's love doesn't work out for her? 
The baby is exceedingly important in the film because this is the last image Freya sees before she dies. Why? The mirror says it is the potential of what might be, but so is the baby, for babies symbolize hope and the future. Freya sees this image of her last because, in her last moment, she realizes she has been wrong, and she could have made other decisions. She could not have saved her child, but she could have saved the love she had for her daughter, rather than destroy that love within her, too, instead of just the baby being destroyed. 
Freya has to know that her sister is a serial king-killer (Freya smiled at her lover during the king's funeral, after all, not even bothering to feign mourning). Freya did nothing to stop her sister from killing the king, or other kings, and so, we can say, that since Freya allowed her sister to be a killing machine, it was just and fair that her daughter and lover would die at the instigation of Ravenna whom Freya did nothing to stop. This is a typical pattern in socialist/communist governments: the very machine from which they benefit also destroys them (see the caption beneath the goblin above). What about Freya's own kingdom?
Why, when Freya first sees the dwarfs, does she compare them to children? This is another instance of socialism. No adult (in their right mind, unless they have a lot to gain from it) accepts socialism; children, however, can be taught; even then, however, they grow up knowing there has to be something better. Take, for example, Katniss and Gale in The Hunger Games: they have lived their lives behind fences and would like to run for it but know they would be tracked down. The other Huntsman who came in with Sara and Eric don't want to be there, but they haven't any choice. When Freya sees the dwarfs, she mistakenly thinks she can indoctrinate them the way she has all the other children. When the dwarf Mrs. Bromwyn calls Freya, "Bitch queen," it settles that the dwarfs all ready have minds of their own and Freya won't be able to turn them to her bidding the way she turns all into ice. 
Freya believes that she is saving the children from the pain and suffering of life; doesn't every socialist advocate that there shouldn't be any suffering? She claims to save them from the suffering that love causes, so they aren't allowed to love. To be human, however, is to love, and to love is to be human. Herein lies a clue: Freya had an adulterous relationship with her lover and beget a child, a child she loved dearly; in spite of the suffering her lover caused her, she still had the child she could have loved and found happiness. Freya could have moved on and had another relationship--a legitimate one, this time--and started another family, but no, that is not the path she choose: if she had to suffer, she was going to make sure others suffered with her, and isn't that a recurring theme we see with socialist figures? Think about Spectre's Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) and how he takes his suffering at not being loved as a child out on the entire world; or the King Set (Gerard Butler) in Gods Of Egypt because he was given the desert to rule, so he's going to enslave all of humanity. We can, however, say that Freya finds redemption at the end.
Why does Doreena and Nion act so silly about getting thirsty? "Sometimes I get thirsty after I've eaten something salty," well, like who doesn't? The point of this silliness is, that's what everyone wants. That's what love is and does: it makes the most common of drudgeries (like getting thirsty) seem fated, important and filled with beauty where there was none before. This is why we all want and need love. Because Freya's love "died" she doesn't want anyone else to have what she feels she lost. When Freya is ready to take the mirror, Doreena tells her, "You'll have to kill me first," and Nion tries to protect her but they are both turned to ice; why? Freya can all ready tell the two of them are in love, and she can't bear the power of their love, so she has to destroy it in the only way she knows how: ice. 
When Freya and Ravenna fight each other, Freya knows fear, and that fear makes her prioritize what is important to her and therefore, what she loves, and she loves "her children," those she cares for. She uses the same means of protecting them from Ravenna that she did to drive Sara and Eric apart: the ice wall (we could also call this the Berlin Wall). The importance of Freya using the ice wall to protect her children from Ravenna is that, now, in this moment, Freya realizes that what was a weapon (the ice wall against Sara and Eric) is now a means of strength and power (to protect the Huntsman); in other words, the suffering Freya experienced when her child died and her lover was frozen to death, could have brought about something better and more positive in Freya,... but she didn't give it a chance. 
In conclusion, this was an excellent film that provides audiences with two potent symbols of what socialism is and does: gold and ice. While it freezes everything for the people who slave away to keep the system going, it feeds on gold for its own satisfaction, leaving nothing else for anyone. None of us like, or want, to suffer, but we take the hard-knocks we experience in life and turn our pain into wisdom. That is why wisdom is considered to be a treasure greater than gold: no one can take it from you. 
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Why go back to a fairy tale? Why on earth, with all the special effects and technology we have, should we care about what happens in a fairy tale? There are two reasons why fairy tales are revisited today: first, socialists know the fairy tale was a warning about them (or behavior socialists advocate, like promiscuity) or, two, capitalists want to tell everyone, "See, we told you so," and remind people what the original fairy tales taught us and why. The Huntsman Winter's War is an excellent example of the later.

Monday, April 25, 2016

'We Had a Little Help': X-Men Apocalypse Final Trailer

As you watch the trailer below, please notice the background noise that is like a dull, constant alarm going off. The film takes place in 1983, and it was a year full of nuclear scares for the world as the Soviets' system nearly mistook exercises from the US and the UN as actual first strikes; the dull noise in the background of the trailer from 0:12 to 0:30 could be either the sound of a DeathCon 4 alarm going off, or of a nuclear plant having a meltdown, as rods failing to cool was fairly common place in this year as well. Why mention this? Note the massive destruction of everything taking place in the trailer; that's what it was like to live during the Cold War: fear that everything was going to be utterly destroyed in the blink of an eye. It's possible--though not definite--that the Cold War nuclear threat will be the primary or secondary thesis of the film, i.e., don't go socialist (again) because it's only going to create a divided world always on the brink of war. I don't think that will be the thesis because this time, in reality, the UN is in charge of implementing the New World Order, not Hitler, so the entire world will be under the same rule, but I could be wrong about what the film is going to do. What about Charles? The first clip we see of him is what we are rather used to: him being philosophical and balanced about things. We know that hair symbolizes thoughts, and the baldness of Charles in this image above suggests that this is the time (the fight against Apocalypse) that Charles realizes we can't be philosophical all the time, there is a time for action.
I knew this was going to be good, but now, a surprise mutant has joined the story after everyone was told he wouldn't be in it. He's in the very last clip:
Besides Wolverine appearing out of nowhere--yea, they were pretty definite about him NOT being in this film, which was rather shocking, but he's been busy filming Wolverine 3, Hugh Jackman's last stint as Wolverine before passing the claws to someone else--Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) becoming a "teacher" is rather intriguing (it doesn't look like she's making for a very good one, however, an important point is being made in that). Have you noticed her odd hair-do? It's like it's down, but then pulled back at an odd position,... that's a statement. What statement? She's part in, she's part out. Part of her (the part pulled back) is disciplined and realizes that Charles is right and the world has to stand against this new mutant; another part of her (the part of her hair closest to her head that is not pulled back like the bottom half) would like to be a part of Apocalypse because she has thought that humans aren't needed. It will be interesting to see the trigger that determines why she fights with the younger, untrained mutants. So, this leads us to Apocalypse himself,...
Magneto is going to have a real problem in this film because he tells Charles, "Whatever it was you thought you saw in me, it died with my family." I believe the death of his family he mentions here is the wife who left him after their daughter died from a mob attacking Magneto because he unleashed his powers but couldn't save their daughter, Anya. After the wife left Erik, his wife gave birth to twins, who would become Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, although they weren't known to him. Quicksilver will be now, as he reveals to Mystique in the trailer, and that "new family" Magneto discovers may be the crucial key Magneto needs to turning against Apocalypse and saving humanity from total destruction.
"Together, we will cleanse the earth. Everything they've built, will fall, and from the ashes of their world, we'll build a better one." If that doesn't terrify you and immediately give you cause to think of the New World Order (yea, like the one in Spectre) then you've had your head buried in the sand. So, now that Wolverine is in the film, we can't really speculate on anything else (although we know that, between X-Men Days Of Future Past and X-Men Apocalypse, Logan has gotten his adamantium claws from the Weapon X program and he is virtually indestructible now whereas he wasn't as indestructible in Days Of Future Past). There is, however, something significant we can speculate upon: everyone else in the film.
In the trailer, Mystique says, "If I'm going to teach these kids something, I'm going to teach them how to fight," and that's fine, but then we hear her telling the kids to forget everything they know. This is the reason why Mystique is such a conflicted character herself: she has no discipline. "Not all of us can control our powers," "Then don't," she replies, but if you can't control your power, you can't control yourself. Mystique only barely survived Days Of Future Past, and humanity as well. She isn't going to be able to lead because she hasn't allowed anyone to lead her. This is an important lesson all of us need to face in our own lives: being able to control the power we have, with kind words, patience, love and, when necessary, long suffering.
Did you notice how young everyone is? They are not Millennials (the film takes place in 1983) but they are meant to be identified with Millennials (the young population the Left claims is giving them so much support for socialism in America) so the Millennials can learn the lessons that Generation Jones and Generation X did in living through the Cold War. "Just because there's not a war doesn't mean there's peace," Mystique tells Charles in a rare moment of wisdom for her character. What she's saying, she's really saying about the world here and now: just because all of the American cities are burning and torn down, doesn't mean there isn't a civil war raging.
"He was some kind of god. For thousands of years he has been amassing mutants to take their powers." Well, if the New World Order reference didn't seal the deal for you, that line from the trailer should. He gathers people to himself, in the name of change and doing something better, but only to take the powers of those dumb enough to follow him. 
What about Charles?
The film is part rescue mission (to get Charles back from Apocalypse) and part saving the world. When we see Charles, he wears a suit jacket and a lavender T-shirt underneath. This is rather an odd combination. It suggests his professional and class distinction with the jacket, but his down-to-earth sensibility with the T-shirt. When Charles pleads with Magneto not to join Apocalypse, his jacket is no where to be seen, he's just in the T-shirt (lavender is a pastel of purple, and purple we know is a symbol for suffering, not just his physical suffering from what Magneto accidentally did to him, but the mental burdens he puts upon himself in running the school and his mutant mind-reading powers). Pysch-locke (Olivia Munn) also has purple has part or her costume, and that's because she uses her suffering as a justification for joining Apocalypse, so she won't have to suffer anymore, whereas Charles, in understanding that suffering can be redemptive and help us to become better people, fights against Apocalypse because in spite of the problems this world has, it's infinitely better than any world Apocalypse could possibly create.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--Nearly finished with The Huntsman Winter's War and will get that up next!

Penny Dreadful: Season 3 FIRST EPISODE HERE The Day Tennyson Died

Patti Lupone, who portrayed the Cut-Wife during Season 2, is now back as Dr. Seward, a psychologist who sees Vanessa. There are two important things about this. First, Dr. Seward is likely a mental projection Vanessa is having onto her doctor. For example, recall in Season 1, Episode 5 (?) when Vanessa's parents take her to the asylum and the doctor interviews them and his name is Matthew. Vanessa says she remembers a Matthew who was a tax collector, going back to the Apostle Matthew, and projecting the Apostle's spiritual likeness onto this doctor (and it's important she looks out the window as she does so, because, as we know, windows symbolize reflection, so she's reflecting on who the Apostle Matthew is). In the image above, all the mirrors illustrate Vanessa trying to find herself, and one part of her "self" she may be wanting to re-connect with is the part of her self that she discovered when she stayed with the Cut-Wife (Vanessa felt safe then, she was getting answers and learning, she wasn't being attacked by demons, and her and the Cut-Wife developed a bond). But the Cut-Wife reappearing is a sign that Vanessa is torn: she might like to take the Cut-Wife's position in that village, but she knows her destiny would be just like Joan Clayton's: to burn in hell for eternity, and Vanessa doesn't want that. So Vanessa is working through these complex psyches and levels of psyches she has, but the important thing is, she is working through them. Now, please remember this all important note: in English, the name Vanessa means "literary invention," so, when we hear about a Satanic quest involving her, it means two things: first, that Satan wants to dominate the literary world and be honored in literature and art (think of all the literature and art devoted to glorifying God, of course Satan wants that for himself) and, secondly, just as Vanessa is the object of a Satanic quest,... so are you. The devil wants your soul every bit as much as we see him trying to get Vanessa's, and if you are not fighting him, then he doesn't have to go to any heroic efforts to obtain your soul, you are probably just handing it over to him. 
The first episode of Penny Dreadful Season 3 has been uploaded and is ready to watch here, now ahead of the Sunday premiere on Showtime! It's awesome that they do this!
I have only seen the first few seconds, but these are important--as always. The house, as we know, symbolizes the soul: the cobwebs and dust, then, reveal that there are parts of Vanessa's soul she hasn't been using (spiritual weapons and strengths she is neglecting in her battles). The mail we see that has been stacking up is an excellent example of God trying to communicate to a soul who has hardened their heart against Him and won't listen to His supplications to return to the Light. The plates we see piled up, the glasses, all symbolize what Vanessa has been "digesting" (food symbolizes the nourishment to the soul and mind) but also what she hasn't been digesting; flies buzzing around always symbolize Satan (Beelzebub, the "Lord of the Flies"), so she has been listening to thoughts the devil has been planting in her head, but not what God is trying to tell her.
This is the actor portraying Dr. Jeckyll this season,... yes, that Dr. Jeckyll. Why is this important? Just as Dr. Jeckyll is a dual natured character, so each character in this season will be dealing with their dual-natures to do good and evil. I suspect we will learn that Dorian Gray is the devil that fell to earth while his brother fell into hell. 
She wears all black, so she's interiorly dead; her hair is in total disarray, because her thoughts are in a total disarray. The shoulder strap hanging down reveals her shoulder. The shoulders symbolize the burdens we carry; we don't see anything on Vanessa's shoulder--such as a scar--so we can't see the burden she carries. Later, we will see Ethan in the desert, but Vanessa is all ready in the (spiritual) wilderness that is the same Wilderness the Hebrew children wandered for 40 years before God led them to the Promised Land. Why is Vanessa ignoring God? She thinks she is getting Him back for the trial He allowed Her to go through at the end of Season 2, in choosing between the life He has destined her for, or the life the devil would tempt her with. When Vanessa burned her Crucifix, she wasn't burning God, but she was showing Him how much the trial had hurt her (especially losing Ethan) by doing unto Him what He had done (or allowed to be done) to her. Don't blame Vanessa. That kind of torment is unbearable and few of us will ever know that kind of misery she has had to pass through, but, she did pass through, and--as the Creature told her--God is all ready waiting for her at the end of this trial. When she eats, what is it? Milk, i.e., "mother's milk" (drinking from the bottle resembles the act of breast-feeding) and she breaks the bread, i.e., the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. She isn't ready to come back fully to God--she's still terribly mad at Him--but she knows it's the only place to be. When she opens the door, the bells are tolling; that's important because bells drive away demons, and her opening the door is hearing that Christ is knocking (not Ferdinand Lyle, but God works through others) at the door of her heart, driving away the demons and ready to reclaim her as His for the next test she must face. Enjoy the first episode! I am nearly done with the post for The Huntsman Winter's War.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--You might want to consider reading (or at least glancing) at these posts: the novel is dealt with in this post: For the Dead Travel Fast: Dracula and the character of Renfield is dealt with in The Children Of the Night: Dracula 1931. Since Renfield has been introduced, it's possible that Hecate is a Lucy type figure, we see her in one of the trailers saying, "What music my master makes," echoing the line Dracula says to Jonathan Hawker, "The children of the night, what music they make." It's also possible that the tall vampire following Vanessa at the start is Jonathan Hawker, the husband of the ill-fated Mina, but that is highly doubtful.
Patti Lupone now portraying Dr. Seward. The other important note to consider about this is: Dr. Seward is an important character in the novel Dracula, and in the novel, was a student of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. This is going to have repercussions.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War Is Excellent!

Just saw The Huntsman: Winter's War and it was excellent! Everything there was to love about Snow White and the Huntsman is still there--like the amazing special effects, incredible costumes and great villains--and everything lacking in the film has vanished--Kristen Stewart, for example, and an overall lack of dialogue. These are four great actors (including Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain and Chris Hemsworth) and even better special effects and artistic design than the first. Now, this is a bit confusing: the first, say, 1/4 of the film is a pre-quel, we are getting the back-story for Freya and Ravenna, but the last 3/4 take place after Snow White and the Huntsman, and it fits seamlessly. This film is excellent. There is incredible conflict and an excellent central theme. Now, I will warn you: this reviewer at CinemaBlend didn't like it at all, as usual. It's like film critics are giving away their soul if they admit they actually like a movie. On the other hand, you probably think I like everything. Regardless, this is a perfect film where interpretation is essential to understanding why decisions are made that are made. For example, BOTH Ravenna and Freya are symbols of socialism, and if you aren't willing to look into the film's mirror and see that, you are bound to be lost. I also saw Gods Of Egypt this week and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wish I could have seen that one in IMAX and 3D, because it looked like it was made for it, but even on (only a) big screen it was a beautiful cinematic experience; there is something from the film that is really important for us to discuss, so I will really try and get that up asap. In the meantime, I am working on The Huntsman. 
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

TRAILERS: Magnificent Seven, X-Men Apocalypse, The Infiltrator, Equals, Nine Lives

First up, the reviews for Captain America: Civil War are starting to come in (though there is still a ban on releasing details of the film's plot). I look at a lot of film websites, and Cinemablend.com is one of those I have relied on for years now for film news, so I am fairly familiar with their tastes and even there politics, which I would say slightly leans to the left more than they do to the right. Having said that--and that they are incredibly picky, a bit snobbish, too--their review for CACW is in and it's breathtaking; they can't say enough good things about the film. I all ready have my ticket for the late Thursday night, IMAX 3D opening, so I can't wait (May 4). This weekend, The Huntsman: Winter's War opens; I'm going to try and catch it Thursday night, but I think it'll likely be Friday before I can see it, but I will get that post up asap  (by the way, I was going to see Sing Street this week, but it never actually made it to my theater; I'm keeping an eye out for it and still plan to see it). The first trailer for the re-make of The Magnificent Seven has been released. The original Magnificent Seven (Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen) was based on the Akira Kurasawa film, The Seven Samurai, and if you haven't seen either film, you are truly missing out on some great cinema.
"Is it difficult?" Chris Pratt's character asks; "Impossible," Denzel Washington's character replies, and that might be a reference to an American military personnel who was asked during World War II if his regiment would be able to complete their orders. "The impossible we can do. It's the difficult that takes a little longer," meaning, the greater the challenge, the easier it is to rise up to meet it. I think the film holds great promise and I'm really looking forward to it. Now, X-Men: Apocalypse has released an interesting tease that I really enjoy:
The X-Men franchise has put out some creative teasers and this mock TV ad succinctly mimics the old television series In Search of...with Leonard Nimoy. Why? The teaser going back to the 1980s (the height of the Cold War) suggests that people were looking into who Apocalypse was even then and provides a rounder, fuller history for the character instead of just springing up out of nowhere. Now, speaking of the 1980s, here is a trailer with Trumbo actor Bryan Cranston that I am quite upset about:
Great, they're going to go after drugs, right? Well, in a culture desperately trying to roll over and play dead to drugs so they can be legalized,... no. This is going to attempt to show that we can't win Nancy Reagan's (who has just died) "war on drugs," so we shouldn't fight it anymore. This is going to try and do for drugs what Al Capone and the gangsters did for Prohibition. On an equally disturbing level, here is Equals:
To most conservatives, this is what a socialist/communist society looks like (after all, in China, you aren't even allowed to hug your family members; nothing like that exists in the US, does it?) but because socialists want to emphasize that people feel, rather than think, they want people to imagine a world where they don't get to exhibit any emotions at all. Trust me, this is a pro-socialist film. Likewise, the newest Kevin Spacey film:
We've talked at length about the socialist drive to convince people that they are not people but animals. Everyone will prefer Spacey's character as a cat, and he will probably even come to prefer being a cat, because that is the agenda. Warcraft is a popular game that is getting its own film (Assassin's Creed with Michael Fassbinder in the lead should be dropping its trailer soon). If you don't know anything about this world, neither do I. According to the synopsis, a pack of orcs are entering this fantasy world because their world has been destroyed, so the humans and native orcs to this land have to band together to defeat these invading orcs:
Something that has me concerned about this is the director has said that there is no definite good and bad guy in the film, but that both sides will have someone who is good and the audience will recognize them as such. The reason this is problematic for me is that's a rather relativistic moral universe being created, and that's typical of liberals, not conservatives. The Girl On the Train is about a woman (Emily Blunt) who fantasizes about the "perfect couple" who lives in a house her train passes by everyday,... and then something happens:
If you saw The Purge, you know that liberals like to use envy and greed together: people are going to be jealous of you, so don't try to become too successful or they will resent you for it,... that's how liberals thing because liberals are the ones who resent people. So, Blunt's character resents the "perfect life" she thinks this family has and destroys it because it's not the life she has for herself. That's an excellent summation for the motives of socialism: we can't all have a perfect life, so it's better that no one does.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Law vs Propaganda: The Jungle Book (2016)

This is the main poster for the film, yet this scene never actually happens; it is, rather, a conglomeration of instances throughout the narrative that are brought together in one visual statement. It's very difficult to see (you can click on the image to enlarge it for better viewing) but Mowgli faces King Louie and Shere Kahn inside the temple area. Now, there is an important reference to The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug in the film (when Baloo goes and tries to save Mowgli from Louie, Baloo speaks to Louie the way Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) speaks to Smaug the dragon, begging the audience to liken the two villains in their mind (more on this below); why? In The Hobbit, Bilbo is the thief who is to steal back the Arkenstone from Smaug who stole it from the dwarfs. How is Mowgli a thief? He stole the fire he holds (from the man-village, because he doesn't know how to make fire himself) but we are also meant to see how Shere Kahn and King Louie are trying to steal something from Mowgli: Shere Kahn has stolen Mowgli's father--when he killed him--he stole Akela when he killed him, caused the separation of Mowgli's "family" with the wolves and has now tried to steal Mowgli's home by forcing him to leave, not to mention Mowgli's self-respect at running away from Shere Kahn. King Louie is trying to steal something in a more subtle way, but like Smaug, is a huge threat (and we'll discuss this below). Please note that Mowgli has gone up some steps to get to this temple area, meaning, Mowgli--and us, the viewers--have to ascend to a "higher" level of consciousness in order to understand what is going on in this scene, which, is,. exactly, what,...? Because Shere Kahn and King Louie occupy spaces inside the man-made temple area, we can assume that we are to interpret the two of them as humans or human types. 
"If you cannot learn to run with the pack, one of these days you will be someone's dinner," the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) tells Mowgli (Neel Sethi) in the first line of the film; why open with this line? Because it summarizes perfectly the differences between being a human being and being an animal: animals run in packs, humans are individuals and do not run with a pack. Throughout the film, Mowgli is taught to suppress his "tricks," inventions and cleverness which distinguishes him from animals, so he will better blend in, but he doesn't blend in, and each of the animals he encounters throughout the film represents a different kind of human quality or, even, a different form of government, and herein lies just one dimension of director Jon Favreau's genius in bringing The Jungle Book back to audiences.
Let's take a quick moment for a history lesson. Back in the 1960s, literary theorist/philosopher Jacques Derrida began writing about a practice that would become known as "deconstruction": Derrida realized that Western thought tends to be based upon polar oppositions: man/woman, white/black, right/left, right/wrong, good/bad, virtue/vice, etc., and, additionally, that one of the concepts in the polarization-pairings were viewed as positive, while the other was viewed as negative, in other words, it was better to be a man than a woman; it was better to be white instead of black, and these patterns of thinking were being used by those who were in power in society (specifically white men) to keep their power; this critique is how the ideas of "political correctness" entered public discourse, a positive value cannot be placed on one without denying value to the other, so positives in thinking should be avoided so there isn't a negative introduced and people begin feeling bad about themselves for qualities they can't help (like being born a woman, or being born not-white),... then, after this power-move was achieved, they began censoring people for applying polarizations to behavior people could control but didn't want to, on the basis that it was still an arbitrary, power-application of morality limiting "freedom" disenfranchised minorities wanted to engage: chastity/promiscuity, sober/drunk, married/single, straight/gay.  So, what on earth does this have to do with a children's live animation film?
In this opening chase scene when Bargheera is after Mowgli to teach him how to run away from danger, Mowgli goes out on a dead limb and it crashes and Bargheera is upset with him for not having known it was a dead limb that wouldn't have been able to support his weight. This is one of the first major differences between animals and humans which Favreau wants to point out to us: humans learn from our experiences and creatively apply that wisdom to other areas of life--e.g., when Shere Kahn chases him towards the end and Mowgli leads him out onto the dead limb so it will give way under his weight. Animals don't learn in this way or manner. Some animals, like the fox, might have their own "tricks" which they use for survival, however, this intelligence specifically belongs to man. Another important display of humanity Mowgli makes throughout the film: note how many times Mowgli runs and then jumps, often without looking? That's a "leap of faith," which humans are capable of making and animals are not; how many times does that leap of faith save Mowgli throughout the film?
Throughout the entire film, oppositions aren't being torn down (the way they are in socialist art) rather, they are being re-assigned and strengthened, the most obvious dichotomy being that of human/animal. Why is this important? Socialists want us to believe that humans are animals, there is no demarcating boundaries between us and them; in the upcoming release for Tarzan, the animals might even be portrayed as superior to humans (Tarzan will return to England, for example, and fairly easily acclimate to humans, but humans can't acclimate to the jungle, so Tarzan is the smarter for being able to do both, but it's the animals who are the smartest; please recall in Dawn of the Planet Of the Apes, Jason Clarke's character humbly going to ask the ape Caesar for advice and help because humans can't do anything, and that's exactly what socialists want us to believe; it's the exact opposite of what Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book wants to remind us). The Jungle Book goes out of its way to remind audiences how different Mowgli is from the animals and, even, how superior he is to them. Now, speaking in terms of the last fifty years of political history, that's pretty radical of Favreau to do. But this is only one of many dichotomies Favreau re-establishes; although this is the most important, it's not the only polarization, which leads us to,... The Law.
Why does Akela die? The leader of the wolf pack, like other characters, must all ready be dead since Shere Kahn is so easily able to kill him, and--sadly--Akela is dead, i.e, a character that, for all his nobility, still isn't sufficient to survive. Akela doesn't stand up to Shere Kahn the way Mowgli does at the end. Why mention this? The same way English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain failed to stand up to Hitler, which helped start World War II is basically the same way Akela treats Shere Kahn. Just as Shere Kahn goes up to Akela's rock and lays down in a sign of peace so that Akela's guard is off, that's exactly what Hitler did to Chamberlain with the Anglo-German agreement, so that Chamberlain believed it would be "Peace in our time," but then, just as Hitler turned around and invaded Europe, so Shere Kahn turns around and destroys Akela with one swipe. What happened? Akela, in wanting to avoid "war" with Shere Kahn--which is a noble thing in and of itself--failed to recognize the tyrannical threat Shere Kahn was shouting out to the whole jungle, just like Hitler. It's sad Akela died, but Mowgli recognized that he couldn't do what Akela had done, and so Mowgli doesn't, and neither should we.
Most people probably think of a jungle as being a place without law, a place where it is kill or be killed and you do whatever you have to in order to survive. We are, however, quickly introduced to the law of the jungle when Mowgli re-joins the wolf pack that has cared for him all his life. Why is there a law? Because there is a total break-down of order when there is no law and no one keeps the law, so what is the law of the jungle? Here is the complete text from Rudyard Kipling's book:
There are three important film references (at least) in The Jungle Book, and this scene above is one of them, Disney's The Lion King. Shere Kahn looking down at Mowgli in the wildebeest stampede echoes Scar looking down at his brother, the king, and killing him, then blaming it on the king's son. Why would Favreau want to to invoke The Lion King? At least two reasons. First, Shere Kagn attempts to usurp (and I don't use that word lightly) Mowgli's superiority in the jungle with his own: Shere Kahn wants to be king (like King Louie) and Shere Kahn will do so by killing the obstacle in his path, man (Mowgli). The second reason we are meant to think of The Lion King is because, hasn't the scenario played out in American politics since 2008, with a usurper destroying the land just as Scar did? The second film, as mentioned above, is The Hobbit: the Desolation Of Smaug, when Baloo goes into the monkey temple and compliments King Louie on the legends not doing him justice and how huge he is. Again, why does Favreau want us to think about this film in this specific context? The Arkenstone is to the dwarfs in The Hobbit what fire is to man and Mowgli in The Jungle Book: the sign of the right to rule, and King Louie wanting to "trade" Mowgli for the secret to fire in exchange for protection is no deal at all. The third film referenced is The Village (M Night Shymalan) and not because they keep talking about the "man village." First, Mowgli does to Shere Kahn what Ivy does to Noah (when he's dressed at one of "Those of whom we do not speak,... but can't seem to stop talking about") in the forest when she recalls the mud pit by the old dead tree she fell into and uses it to trap Noah; Mowgli uses the lesson from the beginning of the film at the end of the film to trap Shere Kahn in the same dead tree trick that allowed Bagheera to catch him at the start of the film. There is likely a second reference to The Village as well: the "red flower." At the start of that film, two girls are sweeping the porch when they see a red flower and bury it in the ground because it's the bad color. Red is bad in the film because it's the color of blood, the blood of the loved ones whose blood was needlessly spilt, so it's "bad." There is, however, the color of blood that one spills for the one they love, and this is important because this is why Mowgli's loin cloth is red (more on this below). Just as the color red has a good and bad meaning--love when we care for someone, and bad when we spill blood--so the "red flower" has a positive use in warding off enemies like Shere Kahn, but also bad when it destroys the jungle. 

Now this is the Law of the Jungle --
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back --
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip;
drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting,
and forget not the day is for sleep.

The Jackal may follow the Tiger,
but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a Hunter --
go forth and get food of thine own.

Keep peace withe Lords of the Jungle --
the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.
And trouble not Hathi the Silent,
and mock not the Boar in his lair.

When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle,
and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken --
it may be fair words shall prevail.

When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack,
ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel,
and the Pack be diminished by war.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter,
not even the Council may come.

The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge,
but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message,
and so he shall change it again.

If ye kill before midnight, be silent,
and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop,
and your brothers go empty away.

Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates
and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing,
and seven times never kill Man!

If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker,
devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest;
so leave him the head and the hide.

The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack.
Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair,
or he dies.

The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf.
He may do what he will;
But, till he has given permission,
the Pack may not eat of that Kill.

Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling.
From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten;
and none may refuse him the same.

Lair-Right is the right of the Mother.
From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter,
and none may deny her the same.

Cave-Right is the right of the Father --
to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack;
he is judged by the Council alone.

Because of his age and his cunning,
because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open,
the word of your Head Wolf is Law.

Now these are the Laws of the Jungle,
and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law
and the haunch and the hump is -- Obey!

Only the first stanza is quoted in the film, however, it makes an important appearance. When we meet Baloo the bear, he sings the famous song, The Bare Necessities about the "good life." Never having heard a song before, Baloo explains it to Mowgli and asks if he knew any songs and Mowgli recites the Law of the Jungle, to which Baloo replies, "That's not a song, it's propaganda." Why would Baloo say that?
In the fourth stanza, it calls the tiger, panther and bear the "lords of the jungle," and they are meant to be kept peace with. What does Bagheera symbolize, then? We can say that Bagheera himself symbolizes the law, because--as Baloo annoyingly points out--Bagheera always sticks to the rules and Bagheera's wisdom comes from a deep understanding of the law. So, if the panther and the bear both like Mowgli, why does the tiger Shere Kahn have a problem with him? Shere Kahn doesn't want to respect the other "lords of the jungle," Shere Kahn wants to be the only lord of the jungle.
The Law of the Jungle is about each person doing their part; Baloo is an opportunist, he doesn't do his part, he leaves that up to others: in his song, Baloo says the honeybees are making honey just for him, right? No, they are making honey for themselves, and Baloo is taking it for himself. Baloo is a lovable character, and I don't want to dampen audience members' experience of him, however, he presents us with an important part in the film, and introduces propaganda as a theme, so, why then, if Baloo sees the Law of the Jungle as "propaganda" is he then one that uses it to unite the animals against Shere Kahn towards the end?
The Law of the Jungle symbolizes the Constitution.
Why is Shere Kahn blind in one eye? Well, it happened when he killed Mowgli's father, yes, but symbolically speaking, when a character has a blindness, it denotes that they are blind to some greater issue in the narrative, like Shere Kahn thinking he is greater than man because of his fur, claws and teeth. Further, we can deduce that Shere Kahn believes that, because he is so mean and vicious, no one is going to challenge him because fear is a greater power than is loyalty and love (the end when the animals all gang up against him disproves that). Finally, we can say that Shere Kahn is blind because of what he deserves as his revenge: Mowgli lost his father to Shere Kahn, Shere Kahn lost his eye, Mowgli's loss, therefore, is greater, and Mowgli (we can argue) has a right to live in the jungle and with the wolves because of what Shere Kahn stole from him. Shere Kahn, on the other hand, can't "see" that he doesn't have a case for his lost eye because he wouldn't have lost it had he not attacked Mowgli's father. Why is this important? We have a certain president in America who, like Shere Kahn, is taking revenge for what he believes are the wrongs America has committed, against him and others, and we are apt to gang up on him in the name of the Constitution, just the same way the animals do when Baloo recites the law to unite them. Lastly, Shere Kahn's name is interesting: "Kahn" likely comes from Genghis Khan who wore the title "Kahn" as "emperor," but in the West it became associated with a reign or leader of terror, so "Kahn" inspires "sheer" terror in people.
While some people (liberals) would call the Constitution "propaganda," it really preserves our values and code of ethics, which conflict with the way liberals want to change the country, so that's why they call it "propaganda." Just like the US Constitution brings people together (like all the immigrants who have come to America seeking a better life) so the Law of the Jungle unites the animals against the tyranny of Shere Kahn, and, yes, we can call it tyranny because after he has killed the wolf leader Akela, Shere Kahn promises the hills belong to him and all will live in fear until he gets Mowgli; yes, that is tyranny. What does it say in the Law of the Jungle above? "But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man!" and we know Shere Kahn has done both, killed for pleasure and killed man (Mowgli's father) and now he is using the law--that man is forbidden in the jungle--to his advantage even though Shere Kahn himself doesn't keep the law. How is it that Mowgli manages to overcome Shere Kahn? His "tricks," which brings us back to the dichotomy of human and animal.
What does the snake Kaa symbolize? It's important to note that when Disney made their original animated film, Kaa was voiced by a man, which was changed to a woman for Favreau's version, specifically, Scarlet Johannson. Why? In many circumstances, this would be a case of "gender-bending," that is, like liberals' affirmative action, you give to a minority what a white person might have earned, like a scholarship or a place at a select college. In order to diversify the cast, the character who would normally have been cast as a male was cast as a female because we all know how hard it is for Ms. Johannson to get work in Hollywood. With this film, however, I don't think that's the case, rather, Favreau wanted to draw attention to something that having a female voice the giant serpent in the garden, um, I mean, jungle, would provide commentary we might otherwise miss. For example, when you hear a woman speak to a child, especially a helpless child, all alone and lost, and the female voice tell the child to trust them, you think this woman's motherly instinct is going to protect the child, not take advantage of the child's trust and be killed for it. That Mowgli first finds the massive, shed skin of the snake suggests that there is a duplicitous identity in Kaa: one is the female offering to take care of Mowgli and protect him, but the other is going to have him for an afternoon snack. Is this how women have become today? Being a woman myself, I would answer with a big "yes." Now, it's interesting because what Kaa does is distract Mowgli with the story of his history, and while she's telling him the story of Shere Kahn killing his father, Kaa prepares to kill Mowgli. Has there been someone in the US recently--or for several years, now--who has distracted Americans with one sense of danger while another greater, imminent danger was waiting to hurt us? I'll let you decide that one for yourself.
Animals in the forest don't like the tricks of Mowgli because the tricks show how exceptional Mowgli is; in other words, it's the tall poppy syndrome; in still other words, it's Mowgli demonstrating the superiority of man which can not be hidden when he is amongst the animals. On one level, the drive to keep Mowgli's talents and skills hidden is the socialist tendency to keep everyone on the same level, in the same (zero) achievement zone and, on another, it's even our own human tendency to not try and achieve all that we can, because sometimes, it's just easier that way. There can't be any doubt that Mowgli's ability to reason, problem solve, use his hands and his head make him superior, and this is the driving thesis of Favreau's film, but he gives us a second supporting thesis against liberalism as well: the environment.
Raksha, the adoptive mother of Mowgli, plays an important role in the film because she wants to stand up to Shere Kahn even though the Wolf Council won't let her. Perhaps the most tense moment in the film is when she wakes up to see her cubs gathered around Shere Kahn and he's telling them about the cuckoo bird, and you're terrified he's going to kill her cubs the way he killed Akela. Why does Shere Kahn tell the cubs this story? It's the same story which Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) tells in Spectre about James Bond (so Mowgli is being likened to Bond in this sense and we hear about another similar bird--perhaps it's the cuckoo too, I can't recall exactly--in the film Stoker). Shere Kahn contends that the cuckoo bird gets another bird to raise its young so the unknowing mother neglects her own young and they starve to death while she takes care of the cuckoo bird; who, exactly, has starved to death in The Jungle Book? No one. How has Raksha neglected her own pubs in favor of Mowgli? She hasn't. This is the propaganda Baloo was talking about (because Baloo wouldn't have introduced propaganda into the film if it weren't somewhere). Just as Shere Kahn falsely portrays himself as the victim of man's brutality (which he brought upon himself when he attacked Mowgli's father) so now he's setting up false-victimization with the wolf cubs; is there anyone else in America today that have been taught they are victims even though they aren't?
It's regrettable that Mowgli sets the jungle on fire when he's taking the fire to overthrow Shere Kahn, and we can say that Favreau makes a concession to liberals that yes, humans have done some damage to the environment, however, the elephants demonstrate how man can help save the environment by being man, not resorting to abandoning our real nature and trying to act like animals. When the baby elephant has fallen into the trench, the superior animals of the jungle, the elephants, can't do anything to save their own, only man can, only Mowgli. And he does, with no "pay back" (like Baloo for saving Mowgli's life from Kaa). The baby elephant is precious to the herd because female elephants only give birth (on average) once every five years (and she doesn't become fertile until she's at least ten years old). So, the baby elephant is precious to them, which is why the whole herd is riled up at the infant having fallen into the trench and ready to smash Mowgli when he comes to see what has happened if he appears to offer any harm to the infant elephant. Mowgli's ingenuity saves the baby, and had Mowgli not been there, the baby would have died, eventually.
The elephants are the royalty of the jungle, because their tusks and strength created the jungle, so no one is allowed to get very close to them. At the end, they allow Mowgli to ride upon the back of the baby elephant he saved, thereby making him jungle royalty as well. It might seem strange to some that Mowgli doesn't go back to the man village, the way he does at the end of Disney's original animated film, however, the studio began the sequel before this film was even released, so we know Mowgli's adventure isn't over yet, and there are more lessons for him to learn. We can probably be confident that Mowgli will only return to the man-village when he's ready, not because he's been run out and dominated by a bully like Shere Kahn who has usurped the law. When the elephants dam the river so the water will put out the fire started by Mowgli, that, too, is a sign that Mowgli has brought the animals together, and each gets to do their own part, because everyone is good at something. 
In conclusion, The Jungle Book offers audience members some important concepts to think about and consider, mostly by resurrecting a traditional mind-set the liberal left has tried to undermine and sabotage for their own ends.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
King Louie will probably be the main villain of The Jungle Book 2. Just as Shere Kahn's blindness is unnatural, so the icy blue eyes of the orangutan is unnatural. Why? King Louie sees himself as being just like man with the exception of having the secret to making fire, and there is obviously a lot of differences between Louie and Mowgli. Louie wanting to become a man is a topic we will see again shortly in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows when the turtles get a hold of a formula that could turn them into humans but they are turtles, "Whether we like it or not." Remember, in the film Noah, Noah believes the animals are more important than the humans and wants the humans to die out so the animals can live in peace in the world, so animals are more important than humans in that film. In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Katniss has returned from the Games and hunts turkey in the woods and, just before she shoots it, it turns into a young man, because one of the liberal-carry-overs of the text was this blurring of the line between animal and human. Just as Mowgli isn't an ape, so Louie is not a man, and this is the dichotomy which Favreau erects and fills out through the narrative; why? Socialists want us to believe that we do not have a soul and are not created in the image of God, so it will be easier to treat us like animals--because that is what the socialist state does--when we believe and accept that we are animals. Favreau wants to remind us that we are not, and we are the rightful rulers of the world, not the animals.