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.
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?
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.