By: Jay Dyer
Oblivion is the summer’s first big sci fi blockbuster that opened to mixed reivews. Many movigoers and critics are expressing confusion and bewilderment, not understanding the plot. Others are calling it dull and uneventful, yet my conclusion is that they missed the film’s point. While there are some legitimate questions as to plot points here and there, the narrative itself is not flawed overall in my estimation. The key to understanding Oblivion is twofold: conspiracy theory and esoterism. To be more precise, gnosticism and Platonism.
While “gnosis” arises often in JaysAnalysis reviews, there’s a reason why: it is a theme really and truly prevalent in so many Hollywood productions. The reasons for this are manifold, but in the big picture, “Hollywood is an extension of gnosticism,” as one director put it. Considering the Oblivion director’s previous work (Joseph Kosinski) with Tron Legacy, we can be assured that the themes are intentional, since they are the same in that work. I have done an analysis of Tron Legacy here.
As a refresher, since JaysAnalysis has gained a larger audience over the last few months, gnosticism refers to the numerous heterodox, extra-eclessial Christian groups of the first three to four centuries. Gnosticism encompasses a wide variety of sects with varying influences, ranging from Greek pantheism, polytheism, Platonism, far Eastern mysticism and various Christian texts. One common thread in gnosticism, however, is the rejection of the God of Moses and the Jewish prophets as the “demiurge.” In this view, the creator God is actually the devil because, it is believed, He has made man flawed and imposed death. In this view, theology is reversed and man’s goal is salvation through gnosis or knowledge, leading to escape from this plane of existence. Plato comes to mind here, with the famous dictum that the body is a prison.
In Platonism, which extends much earlier than gnosticism, similar teachings are found, but particularly the idea that our world is a sort of prison grid that traps us from a former realm of blessed ideal existence from which we have fallen. That ideal existence is one of the realm of forms or ideals. On this point, Platonism begins to surface in Oblivion, and shares certain similarities with normative Christian and Jewish theology, but also departs, denying the idea of a bodily resurrection. In Oblivion, we are immediately confronted with a desolate post-apocalyptic war that Jack Harper (Cruise) tells us is the result of a war with the scavengers, a supposed alien race that arrived and destroyed most of the earth’s surface and populace.
Jack and his female companion, Victoria are agents assigned to oversee the operations of the Tet, a large tetrahedonal space station that was established after an alien race known as the “Scavs” or scavengers supposedly destroyed the moon. Earth, Jack believes, had to resort to nuclear war to defeat the “Scavs,” with the result being the desolated earth. The off base utopia is located on Saturn’s moon, Titan, and the Tet promises to send Jack and Victoria to bliss upon completion of their five-year service record of drone maintenance and cold fusion generator repairs. The Tet is powered by massive cold fusion generators that convert sea water into energy, to power the Tet.
What immediately presents itself is the symbolic placement of Jack and Victoria’s living quarters, hundreds of feet above earth, situation in the clouds, while above them floats the massive tetrahedonal space station in near orbit, the Tet. Below the clouds on earth live the primitive, low tech and beastly “Scavs.” We therefore have a triadic structure common to Greek and ancient philosophy, of gods (Tet), humans and beasts or underground monsters (Hades). Keep in mind as I have explained before, triadic structures are central to Platonism, with the monad, dyad and triad forming the basis of all reality. These triads are then joined to other triads to form tetrahedons, octahedrons, etc., to form the platonic solids, that make up created reality.
On a mission to repair a downed drone, Jack discovers the New York public library buried from the nuclear war and begins to read “Horatius” in The Lays of Rome by Thomas Babington Macaulay, describing the defense of the Sublician Bridge by massively superior force, led by the Etruscan king, Lars Porsena. Interestingly, the film constantly shows Jack crossing and appearing near a destroyed Brooklyn Bridge, and given the Hollywood predictive programming penchant for signifying events beforehand, it could be significant, as well as the many cases we’ve documented here of the Golden Gate Bridge. Given the somewhat fluid nature of archetypes and symbology, the elite could destroy either or both, or some other notable bridge. It is also significant that we see the football stadium destroyed with a sign still standing that reads World Series 2017. That could be an indicator of the date, as many examples of 9/11 appeared prior to that event.
In regard to the actual story narrative, 2017 is the year of the Odyssey mission to Titan where the Tet is encountered. This all brings to mind 2001: A Space Odyssey that I have analyzed here, which also included esoteric Greek and Roman references, linking David Bowman’s mission to Jupiter to Jack’s mission to Titan. Both are en route to encounter a mysterious alien object (in 2001, the monolith, in Oblivion, the Tet), and both are on a journey like Odysseus. Jack, however, has had his memory wiped while he is on his assignment with Victoria, and can barely recall any of these details. Memory loss, however, is also a Platonic doctrine, wherein Plato speculated that we had forgotten our origins in our fall from the realm of the Ideas or Forms, and our goal was to return when we left the prison of this body. As long as we are in this world, so the Platonic cosmogony goes, we are imprisoned by the demiurge, the lesser creator god. In the film, since we learn that the Titan utopia is not real, it signifies the Tet’s lie of immortality, because the Titans were a race of immortal giants.
Like 2001, the story of the scavengers unravels and the true enemy is the large, robotic AI entity, the Tet. The Scavs turn out to be humans hiding underground from the Tet’s drones. The off world utopia of Titan isn’t real, and instead, the Tet had imprisoned the Odyssey mission crew decades earlier and cloned Jack and Victoria to be the new shock troop “agents” of the new, technocratic overlord. Jack and Victoria thus have no knowledge of the past due to their memory being wiped, and the countless other Jacks and Victorias are kept away from their counterparts by the Tet warnings of “radiation zones.”
Jack has also discovered that his wife from the original Odyssey mission is Julia, the recently recovered astronaut from the Odyssey flight, which has crashed after 60 years in orbit, and begins to have recollections of the past. The leader of the human resistance, Malcolm Beech (Freeman) tells Jack to help him nuke the Tet by sending back a Tet drone with a small NASA nuclear device from the Odyssey wreckage. Jack is unconvinced but changes his mind when he discovers a clone of himself (Jack number 52) after accidentally crashing in a radiation zone. Jack then discovers that the radiation zone is a lie concocted by the Tet and that he and Victoria are merely clones.
After a long battle with several drones, Jack and Malcolm end up flying back to the Tet with the nuclear device, where Jack hears the flight recording of the original Odyssey mission and has full recollection of what has happened. Jack discovers that he was captured years earlier, and he and Victoria were cloned. In the original mission, he had ejected the rest of the crew, resulting in Julia and company orbiting the earth for 60 years while the cloned Jacks were destroying the rest of humanity. The cloned Jacks had been programmed to have no humanity or remorse, but to be like the Tet, a machine. Jack 49, our protagonist, is unique, and is the one that questions and regains his humanity through some primeval ancestral memory.
One interesting piece of purposeful placement is a biography of Wild Bill Donovan on the shelf at Jack’s country hideout. The placement is not accidental, as Donovan is the masterspy founder of the OSS, the predecessor to the CIA. One immediately begins to connect this to the CIA/Air Force drone program, which is projected to be run by AI computers in the near future, and is actually termed “Skynet,” as I have explained here. The goal is to convert the entire military force over to robots and drones with a global technocratic control grid to reduce population to at least 500 million. This is the public, stated goal of the so-called “Illuminati,” so the references to the “drones,” depopulation, war, cloning and genetic engineering, and “Wild Bill Donovan” are not accidental. There is a clear parallel to the real world plan of the global elite to establish a one world technocratpic panopticon slave grid, while the elite are like the Tet, off-world and merged with life-extension technology.
In kabbalism, the Jewish tradition of mysticism, the Hebrew letters have a deeper significance. In Hebrew, “Tet” is the initial letter of tov, the good, and it is worth noting that the Tet in the film are inverted tetrahedrons. They thus symbolize evil, the inversion of tov. But in regard to esoteric symbolism, the Tet are an inverted pyramid without a cap, and with an all-seeing red eye, reminiscent of HAL 9000 from 2001.
The film concludes with Jack nuking the Tet, and the other clones presumably being enlightened as to their clone status, rejoining the victorious resistance who then “remember” that man was meant to live on earth, in connection with nature, and not in a cold, mechanistic slave state. In this regard, the nuking of the Tet, Jack’s “creator” signifies the “storming of heaven” in a Promethean fashion, with the intent of destroying the demiurge, in the Platonic and gnostic scheme. Read this way, it is an “anti-Illuminist” film, since it intends on destroying the structures of technological control. Jack says that the Tet destroyed Rome and took over, so there could be a possible refernce to the Illuminist-controlled Vatican.