Hanna (2011) – Jay’s Film Analysis

"Adapt or Die"

 By: Jay Hanna is an awesome film. As a story and entertainment, it is top notch. However, as the message goes I have some stuff to bitch about (as usual), and this time it's not really gnosticism. Well, it is a little bit, but not primarily. Hanna is the story of a young girl who is mysteriously unaware of her origins (played by Saoirse Ronan), raised by her father in an utterly secluded cabin in Finland. Her father gives her intelligence agent training, while simultaneously keeping her from all modern luxuries. Hanna is thus a trained hunter and assassin. From the trailer, we see that it will be a take on a fairy tale, and that is what will develop. One of the few things she reads in her cabin, along with the Encyclopedia, is Grimm's Fairy Tales, which comes up as a subtle sub-theme throughout the narrative. Initially, she fixates on the Cinderella story, which is a story of mythical transformation—precisely what the film is about. Something like A.I. meets Run Lola Run, Hanna is about the future generation. Since we have descended into a post-post-modern nihilism, all that is left is the return to myth. The Enlightenment scientism has been discovered to be another form of mythology that, while producing interesting artifacts, is unable to quantify and calculate the sum totality of man's existence into a materialist, pragmatist framework. Thus, what happens in this stage of cultural devolution is that man's nihilism returns to myth as a larger narrative structure for life. Hanna, as the film makes clear, is the genetically altered future, which the scientific establishment will attempt to control, but which, in fact, cannot be controlled. Once upon a time.... After a long journey of self-discovery and rugged survivalism, Hanna has interfaced with modernity and found it absurd and empty. Ironically, being raised in a completely sheltered environment, she is simultaneously “from the forest” (as girls often are in fairy tales) and the next level in human development as a result of science. Hanna represents the establishment's attempt at a totally controlled and engineered human godchild—the stuff of myth and legend. The great voyage of discovery is that she herself is abnormal because she is superior. She is a genius who has had “empathy” bred out of her, though she displays empathy in certain cases.

Hanna is thus the “new man,” yet not a man—a woman, in fact. This is my major qualm with the film—while it is fun and entertaining to see feisty young girls as badasses, it actually falls inline with a quasi-feminist agenda. Some might argue that Hanna is a lesbian in one scene, yet she seems more of a hermaphrodite character. She is a blend of both male and female characteristics. This is not to say that she is not a female: she is, but at a point in the film Dr. Wiegler (the CIA agent played by Cate Blanchett who is tracking Hanna and her father) meets up with a mercenary named Isaacs (played by Tom Hollander) who runs a peep show with a hermaphrodite.

The alchemical hermaphrodite from an old alchemist manuscript. The union of opposites which transcends duality is what is supposed to be signified.

This is an esoteric clue common in films and in the occult tradition that signifies the supposed primal human unity and union of opposites. The hermaphrodite thus figured prominently in alchemical writings as the goal of the process of transformation wherein the philosopher’s stone is created—the quintessential gold of immortality. Hanna is the philosopher’s stone as the new, immortal, genetically modified human.

What we have here is a presentation one level of transhumanism, and it can certainly be read that way, but it can also be read as an attack on modernity and a statement of who and what will survive in the future. Hanna’s character is contrasted with a young “modern” girl she befriends that is obsessed with pop culture and degraded nonsense. Hanna is polite to her, but they are, in fact, opposites. Hanna represents the future elite—those who read books and can survive. Her friend represents the degraded youth of today’s Lady Gaga gaggle.

This is where the film appears a bit nihilistic at one point, where Hanna is asked about God, and she seems to inquire of her friend’s liberal, Oxford-trained family what they are even referring to. While this can be read as possibly atheistic, it is not necessarily so, since Hanna told her Arabic host at one point in Arabic that she knew he was Muslim. So Hanna knows about religion, but it is rather that she does not run in the mainstream circles of anything. She has been sheltered and trained as a new breed of humanity, who finds it difficult to even interact with others her age. Hanna is the elite, and when she and her father (Eric Bana) arrive in Germany, you will notice in the background graffiti several eyes strategically placed in numerous places. This is significant in that Germany is the origin of the actual “Illuminati Order,” as Terry Melanson has demonstrated. Is this saying that the Illuminist message is one of rejecting civilization as it stands, for a future where the cream of the crop of humanity will survive?

Ovid's mythical "Metamorphoses"

Hanna is, then, a metamorphosis story, similar to what you find in several of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, with the hermaphroditic story of Tiresias. or as with Apuleius’ The Golden Ass. It is a metamorphosis story of surviving progeny. And, mythical transformation stories always figure prominently in alchemical manuscripts as mythology technologized. Modern genetics and modification is the continuation of the alchemical story of transforming the baser metals of human nature into the supposed gold of immortal godhood. But, as I noted, it doesn’t have to be read as propaganda for transhumanism: it can also be read as a pragmatism-turned-elitist-survivalism, wherein modernity is attacked. This, I like, and here, Hanna, after killing the wicked step mother (in Cinderella fashion) at the mouth of the wolf in the fairy tale amusement park becomes a return to mythos and classical ways of life, as opposed to modern decadence and dehumanization.

25 Comments on Hanna (2011) – Jay’s Film Analysis

  1. Lloyd Johnsonius // April 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm // Reply

    In the language of the whore of Babylon, mons montis means mountain. That bred a bunch of other bad languages, almost like creative cussing. The Romans created Mexicans, who created “la montaña” -which sounds like “mountain” if your mouth was full of burritos when you say it. In English, the mother language, it’s Montana. I don’t like Hannah Montana.

    That’s what I have to say about that.

  2. "Peter Parker" // April 20, 2011 at 6:20 am // Reply

    Saw you had posted this article a few days back but I thought I should see the movie before reading your review. Just came back from the theatre now. You’re right, it was an awesome film.

    I notice you said it’s got a little bit of Gnosticism. Were you specifically thinking this about her “Father,” who like the Deminurge, isn’t her real father and keeps her trapped in a frozen, artificial world, filled with cold facts but devoid of the experience her heart seeks? If so, I’m right there with you. Her “father’s” name is Erik, which means roughly, “Eternal Ruler.” Combine all that with the liberal British woman’s statement to Hanna about seeking “the god within” and it all seems to fit the Neo-Gnostic M.O nicely. The God without is not her Father, the God within is. I’m thinking the deer she sees at the end of the movie was meant to be her totemic spirit animal or god within or some crap like that, like the penguin in Fight Club.

    Did you notice the graffiti in the background when Bana was in London? It reads, “In CCTV we trust.” This is almost certainly an intentional piece of set dressing and not just something that happened to be written on the wall before they started filming. I find it interesting since I’ve noticed that rebellion against “the system” is more and more, being presented in a veiled Gnostic context. In the case of this graffiti, surveillance tech is being compared, in a negative way, to God.

    I wonder if there was anything to Hanna’s friend being named Sophie? It might not necessarily mean anything though, since I’ve heard that’s the most popular name for young girls in England right now. Then again, before leaving, she says to Sophie “Thank you for being a friend.” I couldn’t help but think of the Golden Girls article I wrote for your site. Hahaha!

    Joking aside, the young girl coming of age in a fairytale aspect of the movie makes me think of your analysis of The Labyrinth. I noticed Isaacs kept clacking two steel balls together in his hand, something the Goblin King, another Hermaphro-dude, did a lot in Labyrinth. Wonder if there’s anything to that.

    The post-modern message aside, overall it was a really good movie. The only thing I don’t get is how she was able to so competently use computers even though she’d supposedly never even encountered electricity before.

    • Good comments. My thought of gnosticism was tied to reading it (possibly) as a nihilistic Darwinistic thing, and Hanna is the New (wo)Man. I did notice the CCVT thing, as well as all the
      eyes around it, probably linking it to the CIA and surveilance, as you note. The idea being that intelligence agencies are the bad guys who surveil, and you’re spot on with connecting this with a single omniscient Deity. That pops up numerous times in films, and the “rebellion” against the system is almost always gnostic.

      I hadn’t thought about the names of Erik and Sophie….could be something there….

      I think she was able to use computers because she adapts quickly – but good point.

    • As has been written in the ZapOracle site. There IS a difference between being a real Androgynous Being (Jesus [for he was 100% Man and 100% Spirit], Angels, God [Gospel of Thomas) and a Hermaphrodite (Asmodeus, Baphomet, etc).
      Androgyny is NOT Hermaphrodism. The ultimate Androgyny is the balance between the Nagual Angel and the Tonal HuMan Psyche.
      Hermaphrodism is just a confusion and distortion of both masculine and femine forces.
      Androgy is like a Rainbow… Hermaphrodism is like MUD.

      what i liked in the film was Hanna and Sophie, especially when they kiss. What I don’t like is that they never show what happened to her and her family. Maybe they were killed by the Hermaphroditic german assassin after they found out where Hanna was going.
      Too bad it wasn’t more like D.E.B.S….
      but then again… true unity can only come between equals.
      whicch is why Superman and Lois Lane never sounded realistic… except that when he came down to her level in Superman 2 he became a wimp and lost all his blessings.
      Superman and Wonderwoman would have been a more realistic match.
      just like Magneto said in X3… when Mystic went “normal”: “Sorry my dear, but you just aint one of us anymore.”

      the film seems to be at the same time about a test… a duel to the death planned out… between the old woman and the new or future girl.
      otherwise why have the button pressed for them to come after them and not simply attack the m by surprise.
      the old guy or substitute father set her up for the duel to prove her superiority.
      they wanted to use her like Stryker in X2 used the mutants [metahumans].
      the woman that gets killed at the end is a disposable CIA agent.
      Out with the old in with the new… like in Watchmen where they kill all the masons in the Antarctic but only the niteOwlman [Higher Mason] and other metahumans that play ball were left alive. Rorschach being sacrificed for not following the programme.

  3. At the beginning of the movie, an agent asks Marissa if she was Erik’s handler. What does that mean?

  4. Oops, above I said the CCTV thing happened in London, I meant Germany.

  5. Um, wow. You just blew my mind. I knew there were a lot of subliminal messages in this movie but didn’t have any of that background knowledge on mythology to connect the dots. I love these movies that are seemingly about something but in reality about something entirely different.

  6. I just watched the movie and first thing after that I was trying to find some info about meanings of “Ibis”. At second place i thought “Let’s see if Jay has something to say about “Hanna””. I was more glad than surprised to see the rewiev / analysis.
    The scene, where Father leaves Bahnhof, has too strong symbols to be ignored. This is the scene that Peter Parker also mentioned, but on the wall is not written “In CCTV we trust” but “One Nation under CCTV” (OK, it’s almost the same context). Peter also put this scene in London… Coincidence or not (and we all know that there are none), Banksy used one wall in London to express his attitude.
    Here is a webpage about that: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-559547/Graffiti-artist-Banksy-pulls-audacious-stunt-date–despite-watched-CCTV.html
    This article dates in 2008. It was before od during filming “Hanna”.
    I guess there is a new breed of “Wolves” to come.

  7. Wow, that is cool. Max Keiser was just talking about Banksy the other day. Interesting connections……

  8. Liked the film, but left me with soooo many questions mainly around the antagonist Marisa… anyone got any insite on that character? The big question for me was her strangely emotion reactions to Hanna and motherhood and alike, every time it come up with Marisa in a scene she seems to become oddly emotional, it’s about the only time she displays any real emotion and I was wondering if anyone else had picked up on this and drawn any kind of insite from it… or is it just me? Also that strange scene with her OCD with her teeth and all the almost torture like display of dental tools… what is that all about? For me she’s the most intriguing character in the film as she seems somewhat of a mystery… or is that just me? LOL

  9. yall are weird

  10. Hanna Segal

  11. Did it ever occur that Hannah was either born with or acquired Asperger’s? If this was the case, it would explains things in a different light. The Asperger Female, has a “male brain.” This is not the same as gender identity.

    • In the film it’s pretty clear she’s a genetic experiment.

    • another movie about a super-genetically-enhanced girl with assassin/hunter programming is the Swedish film Let the Right One In… wherein the girl in question also has a male brain… since She was born a Boy according to the hints of the film and outright mentioning in the novel. Although there it’s not the CIA and their handlers that turn Eli that way but… “Vampires”. A favourite self-identifying symbol of the Illuminati. after some claim to be desendents of the real “Count Dracula”. and they’re usually always shown as Blue Bloods.

  12. victoria weichert // October 23, 2012 at 2:22 am // Reply

    So, if Hanna’s original genetic make up is haploid DNA, (female DNA, egg only) and then she was genetically engineered, they needed to add 23 more chromosomes to make her human. This should make her totally female with scientific manipulation to create the super powers.

  13. In a post modern world pain is real…

  14. Hanna has three fathers; Erik – the imaginary one who brought her up, Marissa – the symbolic one, who “commissioned” her, and the deer, who is the “real” one – showing how she is a child of nature, and which importantly is shown to still be present at the end of the movie despite being symbolically killed at the start – maybe this suggests a kind of hierarchy, Marissa kills Erik, and then at the end, in order for the “real” father to be reinstated, the symbolic one has to be killed.

    Notice the phrase “I just missed your heart” is echoed in her killing them at the beginning and end, but I wonder if the phrase at the end has the added meaning of Marissa’s heartlessness, whereas the relationship of Hanna to the deer she kills at the start seems to have some warmth – and the deer is their food supply, so represents her lifeline and her reliance on nature in a more cyclic way than the more human world she later explores.

    I’m also wondering about the symbolism of Marissa’s shoes – the green Prada one’s, then she takes the shoe off on the bed, and finally they fly off when she falls down the slide. Marissa is wearing pantyhose on her bear feet, but we also see shots of the girls’ bare feet when in the tent scene for the kiss.

    • I think the symbolism of the shoes is important. The taking of the shoe off sitting on the bed is a foreshadowing of Marissa’s unraveling (her shoe ‘betrays’ her as she slips and falls before she is killed by Hanna). Also it’s a metaphor for vulnerability, in that taking off the shoe renders the foot unprotected. Marissa sits down, frustrated and tired from her fruitless hunt for Hanna lasting all day and night. Her feet ache. She takes off her shoe to rub her tired foot, revealing she is not superhuman, like Hanna is. Recognizing the hunter-prey theme of the movie, Hanna hiding under the bed is initially the prey trying to remain out of sight, but once Marissa’s shoe is removed, there is a change in Hanna’s expression. She scrutinizes the shoeless foot up close, much like predator looks at its prey. The foot is now exposed and vulnerable. Her gaze is fixed on it. Her nose twinges. She swallows. With her exquisitely heightened senses, she can smell it, taste it. She lurks in the shadow under the bed, no longer hiding, but as a predator who has sized up her prey and is ready to pounce for the kill. The scene reminds us of her hiding in the forest, stalking the deer who is so close to her at the beginning of the film. Hanna realizes that she is the ultimate predator. Marissa is mistaken in thinking she is the one in control. The scene foreshadows the crystallization of this role reversal of hunter and hunted at the film’s climax.

  15. I was wondering about the similarities between the deer’s death and Marissa’s. She kills them in the same way.
    That particular deer had nothing to do with her. It could have been any deer. It was no threat to her or her father, but she had to kill it, to ensure her survival.
    But then there is Marissa, the only threat she had ever encountered up to that point. She had to kill her, to ensure her survival.
    Hanna missed the heart the first time in the woods and then she missed it again in the mouth of the wolf.
    And just like in the beginning, she finished it off with a gunshot. She started with an arrow, something natural, made out of wood. Modified by humans to kill, yet still material created by nature.
    Hanna then ended it with something completely unnatural – a gun. Just like the gun, Hanna was unnatural, abnormal, something created by humans and meant to destroy. She was meant to be a warrior and just like the gun turned on its owner, she turned on her creator.
    But she is NOT the gun. She was modified, but not newly invented. Like the arrow she was changed, but still “carved” out of natural material. She does show empathy for her friend Sophie, she is still human, some genes where changed, replaced, but her basis is still human. The arrow was not able to kill nature. So, even though she was modified and therefore superior to natural circumstances, she was not superior enough to extinct the natural race. For that, she was in need of a completely artificial weapon – the gun.
    I think this movie shows that sometimes it’s necessary to distance oneself from morals and emapthy to ensure survival, but that this can only be done by the use of something completely unnatural – unhuman.

    • That was what really hooked me on this film, the beginning and end and the references to missing the heart. Which is funny as I mention it now, with all the gnostic connections and allusions. I say this because the film ends as it began, which is a nice little ouroboros of sorts, the snake eating it’s own tail.

  16. Melponeme_k // April 4, 2017 at 9:11 pm // Reply

    I lean more towards Alchemy being a psychological process. The Hermaphrodite isn’t about transgenderism as it is about being the “Renaissance Man”. The image represented the united whole of the brain, the masculine rational/philosophical left side united with the feminine intuitive/creative sensibility of the right side. Hence the constant warring opposite imagery of fighting birds, snakes etc. Each side of the brain wants to take precedence but to access the full power of humanity neither side should be stronger but “married”.

    This path was open only to men, who were thought to be the caretakers of civilization. Being that men have the physical strength to protect society. That we are seeing it being inverted, men being taken out of their natural place in civilization and woman placed in it instead is, of course, social engineering. I’m not saying women can’t have a Renaissance education but it is more important for men. Because, as we know, Idle young men cause a lot of trouble. We see it now in the break down of our society. Boys are no longer being told that being the caretakers of society is their duty. They are not rewarded for it. And in their entertainment (which this film is one), they see it as “woman’s work.”

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