Religion and science, life and death, dreams and reality, right and wrong…..
Contradictions have always been the keystones of debate. Everyone is searching for the truth and everyone believes that they know the truth.
“Reincarnation” is a term that defines life after death. Some religions believe that a soul never dies; it just starts a new life in a different physical body or form, after each biological death. However the debate, of proving that reincarnation does in fact exist, never ends. As part of my research on the topic, I fell upon a movie called” I- ORIGINS” written and directed by “Mike Cahill”. It really captured my attention and left me with a big urge to dissect this film and write about it.
The aim of the movie is to prove, the existence of an afterlife. You may or may not be religious and you may or may not believe in science but it’s crucial to stay open to all kind of points of view. What is right to you might be wrong to me … it’s our right to think the way we want to think, nothing and nobody can judge us.
The title of the movie reveals itself. “I” = eye = me “origins”; means that one’s eye is the “origin” or is the basis of one’s identity. “Every living person on this planet has their own unique pair of eyes. Each their own universe” (Ian).
“I-ORIGINS” can be dissected into four major parts: “FIRST MEETING” – “IAN FIND SOFI” – “SOFI’S DEATH” – “IAN FIND SOFI AGAIN” in each part I’ll analyze the characters, the story and I’ll talk about some symbols that I found interesting
At the very beginning of the movie the story is revealed in a very mysterious way. “Sofi” that special character that is shown as childish and naïve, is much more than that.
In the first scene, Ian meets Sofi who is disguised as a bird, at a Halloween party in 2008. He asks her if he can take a photo of her eyes and when she asks why he says that “ it is something he does”, he takes a photo of her eyes and then says hi.
– “do you know the story of Phasianidae” she asks
– “no what is it?” he replies
-” It’s a bird that experiences all of time in one instant. And she sings the song of love and anger and fear and joy and sadness all at once… all combined into one magnificent sound”
-“Where are you from?” he replies
-“Another planet” she says
– “what does the bird sound like?”
-“it sounds like this, lean closer” *she screams* it’s more like noise
She continues: “And this bird when she meets the love of her life is both happy and sad. Happy because she sees that, for him, it is the beginning, and sad because she knows it is already over.”
It is very obvious that the bird, which she was referring to as a “she”, is her. It seems that she is aware of a bigger truth, like she knew that this journey is coming to an end. For Ian it is the beginning of a journey where he’ll meet spirituality, but to her it is the end of this life.
After the first meeting Sofi and Ian have sex. When Ian asks her if she is going to regret it the next day, she leaves the place without giving him her name or any further information about her.
2-IAN FINDS SOFI
At the 14:21 minutes of the movie, Ian enters a store named “7 eleven”, and when he asks the cashier how much is it? He says “11.11 $”, he takes from his pocket exactly 11.11 $ so Ian says “eleven, lucky elevens”
The number ’11’ starts appearing before him, a countless number of times. When he purchases a lottery ticket at 11:11:11 the extra number is 11 and when a Bus stops in front of him it has a number eleven on it.
While standing in the bus a dog barks at him. When he gets out, there is a sign behind him that says “one way”. And that’s when he finds a poster with her eyes on it.
He finds her eyes and when he goes back to the lab he starts researching her. His assistant and later on his wife, asks him “what are you doing?”
Ian:” I’m not doing anything”
She smiles and leave.
Dr. Ian does find her, and he goes to the places she visits.
One day while boarding a train he finds her again. He sees her reflection on the window that has an infinite sign drawn on it which symbolizes their infinite love for each other. He goes and sits next to her; she gives him strawberry Mentos her favorite candy.
Next we see them at the restaurant, their conversation is shown below.
Ian: “so you’re gonna tell me where are you from?”
Sofi:” so many places, I don’t know” à reincarnation
Ian: “which places?”
Sofi: “to make it short, I was born in Argentina, and when I was 11, I moved to France with my grandmother.
Ian: “and your- your parents”
Ian: “so what do you do?”
Ian: “why did you sleep with me that night?”
Sofi:” poor judgment”
She continues:” I was lonely for a long time, and… when I saw you that night I… I had the feeling that I had known you. Actually I felt like you know me.”
As it is shown, Sofi avoids talking about her parents as if she doesn’t have any attachments to them. It also recites what is going to happen in the next life, because when Ian meets Salomina (the girl linked to Sofi) he “knew her” and he is aware of it. It could be that this time he knew her also, but he isn’t aware of it.
The conversation continues.
Ian:” what do you mean?”
Sofi:” like we are connected from past lives”
Ian:” I don’t believe in that”
Sofi: “what do you believe in?”
Ian:” I’m a scientist, I believe in data”
Sofi:” a scientist?”
Sofi:” what kind of scientist?”
Ian:” molecular biology, I’m most fascinated with the eye”
The eye… the – the eyes
Sofi: “the eyes! Why the eye?”
Ian:” the eye is the one sticking point that religious people use to discredit evolution. They use it as a proof of a… intelligent designer.”
Sofi:” intelligent designer?”
“I am looking to end the debate once and for all with… clear, clean facts. Data points of every stage of eye evolution”
Sofi: “why are you working so hard to disprove god?”
Ian:” disprove? Who proved that god was there in the first place?”
Sofi is wearing, mandala RA god of sun in Egypt, she hides it.
Ra symbolizes the morality system of the modern world, it is derived from the 3,000 BC Egyptian life-death cycle rebirth (reincarnation).
Giving a deeper insight to this scene we notice that Ian’s character has a conflict inside, a conflict between science and religion. All of his research and attempted discoveries are in fact an effort to end this struggle happening inside of him.
If he is a non-believer how could he pick up those signs when he was trying to find Sofi? Repetitive 11’s are known to be spiritual signs.
The whole movie follows Ian’s journey into the path of believing in the existence of the soul and the afterlife.
Later on in the movie, Ian and his lab assistant engage in a conversation about scientific discoveries and their recognition:
She says: “recognition makes me extremely nauseous”
Ian: “well it is important that people know about the work”
Karen: “to me, the best thing about living like a lab rat is that sometimes, really rare times, you actually discover something,
On the night of discovery when you’re lying in bed, you are the only person in the world that know it’s true”
This phrase takes me to the end of the film, where Ian discovers the reincarnated Sofi. That night both Karen and Ian discovered something new that was going to change society’s belief and they were the only ones in the world who knows it’s true.
As the movie continues, Karen calls Ian on his “wedding day”; technically he is not married yet because they didn’t allow them to marry immediately. They gave them 24 hours to think about it before initiating the ceremony.
So Karen calls him as she discovers the PAX6 master switch. Ian full of excitement had to go directly to the lab taking Sofi with him. When Sofi and Karen meet, Ian says that this is his wife.. Sofi is mad at Ian because he tortures little creatures; she says that it is dangerous to play God. And again God’s topic is back to surface.
Sofi: How many senses do worms have?
Ian: They have two. Smell and touch. Why?
Sofi: So… they live without any ability to see or even know about light, right? The notion of light to them is unimaginable.
Sofi: But we humans… we know that light exists. All around them… right on top of them… they cannot sense it. But with a little mutation, they do. Right?
Sofi: So… Doctor Eye… perhaps some humans, rare humans… have mutated to have another sense. A spirit sense. And can perceive a world that is right on top of us… everywhere. Just like the light on these worms.
In this scene Ian will lose his sight, for a short period of time.
In the elevator Ian and Sofi are together. Sofi started kissing Ian then she steps backwards and tells him “find me”. They have a little dispute and he tells her, “Don’t be a child”.
Those words were said on the last time Ian saw Sofi, as she will dies moments later due to an elevator accident. It could be that Sofi already knew that she is going to die and maybe not, but those two sentences, describes what is going to happen next.
4- IAN FINDS SOFI AGAIN – DISCOVERY OF AFTER LIFE
7 years later, Ian’s discovery of eye evolution was proved. He marries his lab assistant Karen and has a child with her. When the child is born, his eyes were scanned as part of a new eye identification system. The results are entered in the database and that’s when the name of “Paul Edgar Dairy” pops up. The nurse explained it as an error in the system.
Later on Ian gets a call from a doctor proclaiming that his child has an autism tendency and that she wants to give him further attention by recommending further tests. She ran a test on the boy using images. They showed him pictures of 2 dogs, 2 restaurants, 2 women, and the child experienced different emotional reactions to each photo.
Ian and Karen did not really believe that the test is really about autism. They researched the places that were shown in the pictures of the test and they found out that “Dan’s diner” is a real place in Boise, Idaho. So Ian goes there and finds out that, the name of which the program identified his baby as a certain “Paul Edgar Dairy” is in fact a real person, who died years ago.
The eye color of their son and Paul Edgar was different says Karen, “yes but apparently they share the same pattern” adds Kenny, Ian’s friend. In a further attempt to know the truth, they decided to make more research about it and see if they can find another two individuals that share the same pattern. There comes the surprise as they find out that Sofi’s eyes were scanned 3 months ago in India. Karen convinces Ian to go to India to try to find the person that has the same eye pattern as Sofi. As he arrives there he meets a servant of GOD in the elevator that tells him “I hope that our paths cross again”. We can see that this person symbolizes God, because in the final scene, Ian tried to avoid this guy but at the end he ended up with him in the same elevator. This means that they did in fact, cross the same path again.
Ian meets an Indian woman named Priya that owns the community center. He shows her a picture of Sofi’s eyes; she recognizes them and agrees to help.
In a conversation between them, priya says: “A scientist once asked the Dalai Lama, what would you do if something scientific disproved your religious beliefs”?
And he said after much thought, I would look at all the papers. I’d take a look at all the research and really try to understand things. And in the end, if it was clear that the scientific evidence disproved my spiritual beliefs, I would change my beliefs.”
IAN: that’s a good answer
Priya Varma: Ian … what would you do if something spiritual disproved your scientific beliefs?
Ian doesn’t reply
We see here that the intellectual intolerance isn’t just something that religious people have but also scientists.
At the end of the movie Ian finds Sofi’s reincarnated body. She is a child whose parents are both dead just like Sofi. He takes her to the hotel and feeds her. He calls his wife, because this time he needs her help in another kind of experiment. They want to see if this little girl’s qualities match Sofi’s. The little girl is shown three pictures in which she has to choose one. She answered some of the questions right and others wrong. In this kind of test, science doesn’t help a lot, the truth must be felt more than scientifically proven.
At the end of the test Karen asked him how does he feels, he answers “I feel foolish” .when he and the girl leaves, they reach the elevator and there was the big proof. When the elevator arrives the girl started to scream and shout, Ian hugs her, knowing for sure that this girl really is the reincarnated soul of his beloved Sofi. He leaves the building holding the little girl between his hands, and for the first time he sees the “light”.
This movie transmits Ian’s spiritual journey, from a believer of science and only science, into a believer of the afterlife (spirituality). This journey resembles ours. We all live a phase in which we question everything around us, hundreds of questions hunt us, why were we born? What is the purpose of life? Who is God? Does he really exists? What is good and what is evil? What is DEATH?… throughout our journey we may find answers and we may not, but this thirst OF knowing the truth is the key to survive this long and short journey called life.
Ninette Abi Atallah
The Word – الكلمة