Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Suns of Easter Island

Several months after this post at Mounds and Circles piqued my interest, I've finally had the chance to watch Pierre Kast's 1972 metaphysical odyssey The Suns of Easter Island.

The plot is minimal and the pace is glacial.  But the film has that gorgeous 70s patina and atmosphere by the bucketfull, so I was totally on board from the get-go.  (And the electronic soundtrack by Bernard Parmegiani is suitably weird and really quite wonderful.)  Six individuals who've never before met--one in France, the rest in various locations in South America--experience a series of hallucinatory images and awake from them with a strange, translucent circle fused onto their palms.

Some of these folks have deep-seated esoteric interests--the narrator, a solar engineer in France, is also a geomancer and practicing magician; Norma, a Brazilian astronomer studies Aleijadinho's sculptures at Congonhas do Campo in hopes of uncovering their occult meaning; Irenio, an Afro-Brazilian, is a Macumba priest.  Through her research, Norma learns that Aleijadinho's sculptures refer to a unique celestial configuration that is only visible once every 500 years from one specific spot on the globe--Easter Island.  As luck would have it, the next opportunity for viewing the configuration is just a few short days away, so it's clear to Norma that she must get to Easter Island as soon as possible.  The other five individuals (plus one Reichian therapist boyfriend) know they must go, too, but don't seem to know quite why.  The hand of fate brings all of them to Santiago, Chile, where they eventually meet and begin their journey to Easter Island to fulfill some grave purpose they don't yet understand.

But they don't have to wonder for long.  Shortly after their arrival, a visit to a dark cave and a mind-meld with the island's ancient guardian of secrets reveals the meaning of their journey, and each individual's role eventually becomes clear.  I won't bother giving away the rest.  The Mounds and Circles post does it so succinctly and entertainingly, I can only recommend that if you wish to know more.

A reviewer on IMDB associates Kast's film with the ideas of French ancient astronaut theorist (and science fiction author) Robert Charroux, which were very much in vogue at the time.  But despite the discrediting of Charroux's fellow traveler Erich Von Daniken, the ancient astronaut theory lives on.  The History Channel's Ancient Aliens franchise has a whole new generation asking the question: "What were true?"  So even though the film seems dated and new agey, it's not inconceivable that something of its ilk could be made today.  Who knows--maybe Nicolas Cage is looking into a remake as we speak.

I knew from seeing the screenshots that the film would be lovely to look at, but I'm now finding myself truly haunted by its images.  Most specifically by the image of the hexagon, which appears in nearly all of the six, palm-marked strangers' individual and collective hallucinations.  There are dozens of unique, multi-colored hexagons in the film, and all flash only briefly on the screen, but I kept thinking of them (and even dreaming of them) long after the film was over.  I compiled several of them into a couple of composite images.

There has been much analysis of the symbolic/esoteric meaning of the hexagon, particularly from a sacred geometry perspective, but I personally find it a very powerful image.  Even the word "hexagon" seems imbued with a certain power.  It must be the "hex" part.

I have to wonder--could The Suns of Easter Island have been an inspiration for Boards of Canada and the Hexagon Sun artist collective/studio/secret cult?

All I know is that I now feel like I've got an image of a hexagon imprinted on my brain.  Perhaps I should get one tattooed on my palm?

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