I Origins is an American film from 2014. It is an independent production, screened in the same year at the Sundance Film Festival and awarded Best Film of the Sitges Festival 2014. Directed by Mike Cahill and starring actors Michael Pitt, Brit Marling and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, this film offers us a drama with an interesting science fiction look, but which is surprisingly plausible.
Science and spirituality mix with each other; an aspect that seems very unlikely, but which is quite successful. The plot takes shape in a sort of matryoshka with a common thread: the eyes. First we meet the scientist Ian Gray, who is trying to carry out a study that has the ultimate aim of demystifying spirituality. Starting from this, one plot will put us in contact with the next to finally explain why “the eyes are the mirror of the soul”.
The eyes as a starting point
Obsessed with the eyes, Ian Gray aims to trace an origin, a starting point of the evolution of the eye, which demonstrates, with concrete evidence that there is no longer room for faith in our society. Ian is obsessed with science, empirical evidence and data; but, to his great surprise, he will find love in a rather atypical young woman: Sofi, a foreign girl with a strong spirituality, strongly in contrast with Ian’s skepticism.
I Origins delves into one of the most controversial issues in history: science vs. religion. It immerses itself in different faiths and gives an answer to reincarnation. The eyes will be the starting point and, in turn, the discovery that will lead Ian to wonder about everything he knows, about everything he has studied. The film, however, has some flaws: surreal dialogues, unlikely in a normal conversation with a couple, even taking into account the nature of Sofi, are still unlikely.
Perhaps it is a too predictable film, which wants to tackle many themes and which, at times, stops at the surface. It may not reach the hearts of the most skeptical, but it certainly presents a positive approach, a good development and manages to outline an engaging, captivating plot. Can reincarnation exist? What if our eyes were nothing more than the trace of other past lives, of other souls who once lodged in that same gaze?
Destiny, Chance and Origens
According to Ian, there is nothing that science cannot explain, there is no spiritual world, everything passes through science, through the observations and demonstrations that we can draw from the world around us. Destiny and chance are not contemplated in his conception of the world, but all this changes when he meets Sofi, a young woman he knows by chance, of whom he knows almost nothing and who has not even seen her face.
Ian and Sofi meet at a party organized for Halloween, on a night particularly linked to spirituality, to souls. She is dressed in a mask and can only see her eyes, unique and fascinating, which Ian will never forget. After losing sight of her, he will search for her until a series of randomness brings him to her. Suddenly, Ian will start seeing the number 11 often and, following him, he will find Sofi.
Why the 11? Although in the film the number appears in a completely random and inexplicable way in Ian’s life, we might think that it is not linked to fate, as the number 11 is traditionally associated with the spiritual life. 11 is twice 1, the sum of its digits gives 2, which makes us think of duality, two dimensions, two worlds; moreover, it exceeds the number 10, associated with perfection, but also with the material world, so 11 would take us to a dimension beyond, to the spiritual sphere.
Mysticism and science in I Origins
The Pythagoreans saw a certain numerical correspondence in nature; reason gave access to nature, to true knowledge and this, in turn, was associated with mathematics, with numbers. According to these philosophers, everything comes from the One, which would be the fundamental principle from which everything else derives, the apeirón . The 1 is associated with a certain divine nature and others spring from it. Wholeness will be expressed by 10, so 11 is associated with a dimension beyond the earthly world.
Moreover, the Pythagoreans possessed a certain mystical vision of the world; we must not forget that in addition to being a school, they were also an association of a secret and religious nature. The Pythagoreans believed in the transmigration of souls, that is, the soul was part of a divine plan, it did not belong to the earthly world ; he inhabited the body and after its death he would occupy a new body and do so as many times as would be necessary to reach the state of freedom.
To achieve this purification (or liberation of the soul), it was necessary to follow certain behavioral rules; among them vegetarianism stands out, strongly associated with reincarnation and which is present in other religions, such as Buddhism. In I Origins , Sofi doesn’t seem to belong to any specific religious faith, but she believes in reincarnation and feels deeply attached to certain beliefs that come from India.
Thus we see that I Origins not only coincides with the Pythagorean theses on the mysticism of the number 11, but also that it agrees with the beliefs about reincarnation. Sofi agrees with the Pythagoreans even on vegetarianism, an aspect that will allow her to question scientific experiments, to what extent it is ethical to experiment on animals, to torture earthworms – as in the case of Ian – which is to prove the truthfulness of a theory. or out of simple human selfishness.
Today we do not hesitate to associate Pythagoras and his disciples with mathematics, geometry and, in essence, with rational and scientific knowledge. However, delving deeply into their philosophy, we note the importance assumed by the religious aspect. In I Origins, spirituality and science merge, mingle and invite us to reflect on the world around us.
Duality in I Origins
Plato claimed the existence of two worlds, one of which escapes our senses, even though it exists. This world would be the one that gives us access to the truth, that frees our souls. Sofi, in this regard, poses an interesting question to Ian: he is carrying out experiments on some worms that have only two senses. But what if, like earthworms, which do not possess the sense of sight, we did not possess another sense that prevented us from seeing beyond?
The earthworms on which Ian performs his experiments cannot see and, therefore, do not know what light is, what colors are; but how can we be sure that another sense is not missing? A sense that would allow us to perceive something that is in front of us and that we do not know because we do not have access to it?
The men described by Plato in his myth of the cave clung like Ian to their sensible reality, to those shadows that they perceived as real because they were observable; however, they were setting aside a real world which they rejected as inaccessible, without questioning whether it was real or not. Everything that is unknown to us or that we cannot explain frightens us; for this, we cling to what we see, which comes to us through our senses.
I Origines plays with what we consider rational, with the limits of our knowledge and tries to propose a reality that could be in front of our eyes, but which we simply cannot perceive.
The film develops a plot and then presents a metaphor that we have often heard throughout history: “the eyes are the mirror of the soul”.