What is Jupiter Ascending About?
Jupiter Ascending is a 2015 science fiction film written, produced, and directed by the Wachowskis, best known for The Matrix trilogy. The film centers around Jupiter Jones (played by Mila Kunis), a seemingly ordinary housekeeper who discovers she has royal alien ancestry. Channing Tatum co-stars as Caine Wise, an interplanetary warrior who becomes Jones’ protector and guide.
What are the main themes in Jupiter Ascending?
Though the big-budget film received mixed critical reviews, many consider it an underappreciated cult classic. The movie explores fascinating spiritual and mythic themes. References to Gnosticism, reincarnation, and the concept of Earth as a living being offer spiritual symbolism throughout the narrative. The film plays with popular theories of secret human history and our connection to alien predecessors. Visually stunning special effects bring this cosmology to life.
At its core, Jupiter Ascending utilizes the common storytelling trope of an ordinary protagonist on the mythic journey to discover their extraordinary destiny. Along the way, deeper philosophical questions about the purpose of existence and the universal battle between good and evil come into play. This is a transhumanist future where technology and biology merge unless the main characters can help humanity’s soul evolve.
What are the Gnostic Influences in Jupiter Ascending?
One of the main themes in Jupiter Ascending relates to Gnosticism, an ancient religious movement associated with the Essenes, that viewed the material world as a lower density learning ground for souls to evolve. According to Gnostic beliefs, human souls are divine beings who choose to get trapped in the physical world that is controlled by evil Archons. An Archon is defined as a technological ruler that enslaves through mind control, frequency implants, and military strategies and works through controlling more embodied sources, such as corrupt humans or non-humans. Only through attaining gnosis or esoteric spiritual knowledge can the soul transcend its earthly prison and reach liberation.
In the mythology around the deity Sophia, the Gnostics considered her as a personification of wisdom and is the Earth incarnate. The Gaia hypothesis posits that the Earth, also known as Gaia, along with all the planets and stars, are sentient beings on their own evolutionary journey. Humans and other life forms on the planet are like cells within her body. Her desire to understand the origins of creation led her to bring the material world into existence without approval from the Supreme Creator of the Universe.
This is a kind of Fallen Angel story that resulted in her entrapment within the physical realm unable to ascend to higher realms. Jupiter Ascending makes several metaphorical allusions to this Gnostic narrative of Sophia. For instance, the bees that are central to Jupiter’s family represent sacred feminine wisdom, while Balem, the antagonist seeking to control Earth’s resources, symbolizes the Archon-controlled being who imprisons Sophia and manipulates humanity.
Ultimately, the film’s usage of Gnostic themes implies humanity has an inherently divine nature and a right to cosmic freedom. But she has suppressed this nature, allowing a materially-inclined totalitarian force to subjugate her. Jupiter Jones personifies the planet’s dire circumstances and what must be done to overcome these physical limitations to claim her true enlightened, liberated self.
What is the Mythic Journey Structure in Jupiter Ascending?
The film loosely follows the monomyth template, also known as the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell described this mythological format in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”, and follows the basic pattern of an ordinary hero receiving a call to adventure. They encounter mentors and allies to aid them, as well as enemies and challenges to overcome.
Jupiter Jones begins the story as an ordinary house cleaner, living a life of drudgery she feels stuck in. Her call to adventure comes when she’s targeted by alien royalty for her genetic links to their queen. The aliens believe Jupiter is the recurrence of their matriarch and heir to the throne. As part of the mythic journey structure, she initially refuses the call, wanting only to return to her normal life.
Caine Wise acts as a mentor figure, helping Jupiter understand her connection to the aliens and guiding her through their advanced technology and political struggles. He protects Jupiter with his military training and moral code. Meanwhile, Balem, the antagonist, tries to kill Jupiter Jones and maintain his power.
Their journey takes them across the galaxy, facing challenges at each step. Jupiter faces moral dilemmas and the burden of power as she learns more about her true origins. In the end, Jupiter returns to Earth, having found inner strength and fully stepping into her role as intergalactic royalty. Her adventure transforms her into a hero and saves Earth at the same time. The plot hits all the key points of the monomyth format, with Jupiter Jones following the journey of many mythic heroes that came before, affirming the timeless allure of the heroic tale.
Jupiter Ascending – Ending Explained
The age-old struggle between good and evil is a common theme in myths, legends, and stories across cultures. Jupiter Ascending taps into this universal narrative structure by pitting its protagonists against the intimidating forces of the parasitic Abrasax dynasty, but with interesting nuances. Jupiter Jones and her companion, Caine Wise, are the underdogs triumphing over an evil empire.
During the “all is lost” plot point in the mythic journey structure, Balem holds Jupiter prisoner in his facility. Caine must kill the lizard-rat people to save Jupiter’s family. That’s when the facility starts to collapse, and he must fight and kill Sargorn while Jupiter must defend herself and kill Balem in the process. They escape the crumbling city safely.
Jupiter and her family go back home to Earth. Her family’s memories of their capture and encounters with evil aliens are erased. Jupiter continues with her work and in the ending scenes she has made breakfast and coffee for her family. At that time, she tells her family that she has a date. They all press her with questions like, “Is he Russian?” Jupiter joins Caine on the roof of another building. His wings are restored due to his heroic deeds, and she has hover boots of her own now. Jupiter decides not to tell her family that she basically owns Earth. The two of them kiss and take flight over the city.
The film explores the theme of freedom versus slavery, with the Abrasax family as quintessential cosmic vampires. They gain health and youthfulness by consuming the life force of humans on earth. The heroine, as the embodiment of Earth, is symbolic of the classic victim who must find the inner strength to free herself and those she represents. Jupiter earns her status and power through perseverance. The story is ultimately about rising above adversity through fortitude and sacrifice for the greater good.
The theme of Transhumanism versus Soul Embodiment in Jupiter Ascending
Another one of the themes in Jupiter Ascending is about two possible pathways for human evolution – technological embodiment versus soul embodiment. Transhumanism is the belief that, through science and technology, humans can evolve beyond our current physical and mental limitations. The Gnostics suggest that is selling your soul and is a test you must pass to grow spiritually. The path of soul embodiment is the belief that through connecting the physical with the spiritual humans can evolve beyond our current physical and mental limitations in a much more sustainable and empowered way.
Jupiter Ascending depicts transhumanism as the blending of human and machine. The royal Abrasax family personifies this. They have advanced spaceships, weapons, and robots at their command, but they are parasites without connection to the soul and to a higher source. Just like in the Matrix where Neo wakes up to his entrapment, Jupiter must also awaken and accept her cosmic destiny. By overcoming the forces of transhumanism, she helps free herself and humanity. This Alien Invasion trope is explored in many books, shows, and movies such as The War of the Worlds, Supergirl, The Day of the Triffids, Helio Tropez, and Childhood’s End.
The Gaia Hypothesis in Jupiter Ascending
The personification of the planet as a living being is a central theme in the film, aligning with the Gaia Hypothesis that views the Earth as a sentient, complex, self-regulating system. The protagonist, Jupiter Jones, represents the spirit of the Earth herself.
The film infers the concept that the planet nurtures life and must maintain balance, but like any sentient being can sometimes get out of balance. The harvesting of Earth’s resources, without her permission, causes harm to a living system. These echo principles of social and environmental justice.
We see the relationships between humans, organisms, and the planet as all interconnected, and changes to one element have ripple effects everywhere. The protagonist must come to realize she is tied to the fate of the planet and its inhabitants.
Jupiter Ascending uses the trope of sci-fi adventure to depict the Earth as a nurturing and interconnected organism. The personification of the planet and its stewardship leaves the viewers considering humanity’s role within a vast, interconnected web of life.
Reincarnation and past lives in Jupiter Ascending
The idea of reincarnation plays a central role in terms of themes in Jupiter Ascending, providing context for the protagonist’s epic journey. On Earth, Jupiter Jones is an ordinary housekeeper unaware of her unique genealogy. However, she begins having vivid dreams and experiences enigmatic insights, suggesting memories from past lives suppressed deep in her subconscious.
The film explores the theory that souls can live many lifetimes in different bodies, carrying dormant talents, tendencies, and even phobias from one life to the next. Jupiter instinctively understands advanced technology like how to pilot spaceships, implying she inherited this knowledge from her intergalactic royal ancestors. Her hidden potential helps awaken her true cosmic identity.
Jupiter’s quick learning also reinforces the Gnostic view that divine gnosis exists within, and can manifest under the right conditions. By remembering her past lives, Jupiter embraces her sovereign birthright and recognizes her eternal nature.
The view of reincarnation here is both metaphorical and literal. It speaks to the human quest for self-realization and the desire to move beyond the mundane, limited experiences of one’s life. Jupiter’s odyssey from orphaned drudge to galactic queen echoes this Gnostic view of human potential. Like Neo in The Matrix, she breaks free from the illusion of subjugation into her true self in a higher realm.
Visual effects and imagery in Jupiter Ascending
Jupiter Ascending features superb visual effects and CGI imagery that brings the immersive sci-fi fantasy world to life. The Wachowskis worked with visual effects supervisor Dan Glass, who was known for his groundbreaking work on The Matrix films. The visual effects involved extensive world-building to realize the vision of multiple planets, alien races, spaceships, and advanced technology.
Vast and detailed cityscapes of Chicago and Jupiter give latitude and scale to the civilizations. The film’s palaces and landscapes seem inspired by Indian, Thai, and Chinese architecture and textiles, suggesting that these intergalactic cousins had a hand in the majestic appearances of certain sacred buildings on Earth. The spaceships also showed unique designs, from the graceful clipper ships to the foreboding warcraft. Opulent costumes, makeup, and visual designs further bring the galactic royal family to life.
The film applies a rich color palette that ties into the symbolism and themes. For example, Jupiter’s red gown connected her to royalty and the red spot on Jupiter. The angelic Abraxas have radiant, golden wings. Dramatic scenes make good use of shadows and chiaroscuro lighting. Overall, the visual effects are highly stylized and offer a feast for the eyes that contrasts with Earth’s greys and blues.
Is Jupiter Ascending a good movie?
While critical reception was mixed, many praising the visual artistry and effects. The CGI impressed viewers with its originality and allowed them to get immersed in the cinematic experience. Some compared it to The Matrix, noting the similarities in themes and the involvement of the Wachowskis as directors. Yet, some felt that Jupiter Ascending lacked the innovative impact and coherent vision that made The Matrix a modern sci-fi classic. Others admit to watching it multiple times, considering it a unique and fresh cinematic experience within a world of tired sequels, reboots and remakes.
The critics call it a trashy space opera that appeals to the fantasies of teenage girls (or the inner teens of adult females). Perhaps that’s because most comic book based movies appeal to the fantasies of teen boys (or the inner teens of adult males). Is that one reason for the backlash against the film? It did appear to emotionally resonate with more women when it first came out.
In the years since its release, Jupiter Ascending has developed a cult following among sci-fi fans of both genders. Though it failed to make an impact at the box office, Jupiter Ascending remains a visually thrilling, philosophically rich science fiction film for those willing to look beyond the critics’ mixed reactions. It now rests as a cult favorite alongside other ambitiously imaginative works of sci-fi that were initially misunderstood.
Jupiter Ascending weaves together mythic tropes and spiritual themes into a visually stunning galactic adventure. Though it received mixed critical reviews, the film explores profound concepts of good versus evil, spiritual awakening, and humanity’s connection to the cosmos.
The story’s focus on the hero’s journey, recognizable archetypes, reincarnation, and anthropomorphic personifications of Earth taps into a collective longing to find meaning and purpose. Jupiter’s discovery of her intergalactic royal lineage speaks to a gnostic perspective of divine origins and spiritual royalty hidden within ordinary humans.
As she awakens to her true identity, Jupiter evolves from an indentured servant into a heroic savior. Her quest to stop the destruction of Earth symbolizes humanity’s spiritual duty to honor our sacred home. The film’s transhumanist elements also echo an ancient warning that humanity must be careful which path we choose when seeking to rise above our physical limitations.
While Jupiter Ascending didn’t achieve box office success, it contributed to the Wachowski’s unique directorial vision. Their willingness to take creative risks expanded the boundaries for big-budget films that engage spiritual and philosophical questions. Jupiter Ascending reminds us that within the vastness of the cosmos, each human life has meaning and contains infinite potential. Our self-discovery nurtures wisdom that ripples outward, seeding peace, justice, and harmony.