Thursday, August 10, 2017

Analysis & Symbols: Annabelle Creation

This is an interesting poster: whenever a face is hidden or covered, or we don't have access to it, it's a sign of mystery, that we cannot have access to that part of the person/character/thing, even though we know it's there (for example, in a portrait when someone stands in profile, the artist wants to communicate that there is something inaccessible about this person, mysterious and unknowable). We see this with the doll in the poster above and the left side of the face; again, as we have had opportunities to note, the "left" side of something has always been considered evil (the left hand of Dr Jeckyll (Russell Crowe) in The Mummy, Strickland's left hand (Michael Shannon) in The Shape Of Water, and Solo and Illya looking to their left in the poster for The Man From UNCLE, among other examples). The wooden lid to the box is very interesting and introduces and element of "play" into the poster which--given that this is a doll and dolls are meant to be "played" with--is entirely appropriate. On one hand, we see the wooden box as the packaging of the doll but because it's a wooden box, and it was created to be a reminder of the little girl who died, the box also becomes a coffin. Deconstruction tells us that such "play" with words, images and ideas, where you can't really decide on what something is (is it a box or a coffin?) is inherent in all words, sometimes it's just easier for us to pick out than other times. I suspect we will see this "ambiguity" (not being able to decide between "A" or "B" what something is or means) throughout the film: for example, we see the "ghost" of Bee, the little girl who died, with her back to the door when Bee's mother enters and wants to know if it's Annabelle or not; the "girl" sets at a child's tea party set and pretends to be having a party with her animals. Food and beverages in a scene always mean that it is us, the viewers, who are being "served" something to digest: in other words, we are the stuffed animals sitting at the table, the film is the party, and the tea and other refreshments are the meaning and purpose of the film you and I are being asked to "digest," to engage and really understand (like everything here at the Fine Art Diner). Another good example of this is Clary (Lily Collins) in The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, when she keeps making this symbol, and then she "draws it" in the foam of her coffee with the sugar and she doesn't want to drink the coffee; why not? Clary doesn't really want the symbol "clarified" and she doesn't want to digest what it means to her that she keeps making it.
The reason this "play" on words is so important is because of something Janice says in the trailer we examine: the evil one is haunting her because she is the "weakest." "Weak" is a generally negative connotation, at least in America, because being "weak" implies that you can't take care of yourself, you are helpless, a victim; in Christianity, however, we are supposed to brag about being "weak" because it is the weak that God chooses so people will know it is God doing great and mighty deeds and not the person who is merely God's instrument, so what is the difference? Janice uses "weak" in the social, political and economic context of today to describe herself, and this is exactly what the devil and socialists want: look at yourself as being weak, crippled and helpless; Janice is probably also the weakest in her faith (or one of the virtues, like hope--even though we see her wearing green--humility, Christian love, etc., and it is likely we will see the same type of weakness in the Mullins). God wants us to become weak along the path of humility: I don't do anything; I am not the one writing this blog, for example, it's God. I can't come up with a single idea on my own if it is not for God granting me the Grace and gifts to see and properly use this knowledge to glorify Him (I am not bragging that I am a perfect example of Christian humility and weakness, but just trying to use an example). When we realize that we are mere humans and can do nothing on our own, then we are weak, and when we are weak, then God is happy to work in us and through us, because we glorify Him rather than glorifying ourselves (or even some other person or thing). There seems to be a dramatic lack of prayer in these trailers which have been released so far, and even though we see people holding the Crucifix, it's almost like they cover the Body of Jesus--which is what gives a Crucifix its power--rather than revealing it, which might be the whole answer as to the sin Samuel and Esther Mullins commit. 
Annabelle: Creation opens this weekend and the reviews are unusually strong: while The Conjuring universe based on upon the investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren serve as the basis of the stories, this quick featurette trailer points us to something imperative we can't forget about these stories: reality.
The reason it's important to remember that these are actual case histories that involved the supernatural (literally, that above the explanations of science and natural phenomena) is because of the spiritual battle each of us is called to fight everyday; what I think Annabelle: Creation is going to examine, is how we each fail in that battle. Before we discuss that, let's look at the teaser Warner Brothers released, featuring how the Annabelle doll was created:
Why is it that the first thing we see is an eye? "Eyes" symbolize our spiritual sight, our ability to see "beyond" the mere surface, deeper into the matter or the person/character, to understand (motivations, for example), so the first thing the teaser tells us is to "see what we are trying to tell you, what we want to warn you about." The second thing we see is the back of a man, wearing a light brown/tan shirt, and we don't notice much else about him because of his back; this is important, trust me. Next--and this shot really is genius--we see the eyeball held under a magnifying glass. So, what do we have with these three shots? We, the audience, are being called to examine closely what we will see, because we see God as the master craftsman (the man's back is to us so this is a male figure we cannot know very much about, but he's a craftsman, hence, a God figure/metaphor) but we also have to examine how and why we see what we see (the eye under the magnifying glass) because we are apt to see things that are only beneficial to us, and not the critique that we ourselves need to experience (how we are likely guilty of the same sins we will see in the film).
Originally when I saw this teaser, I was very concerned about a certain element of the doll's characteristic: the limited edition. Why? That means it's more valuable, and if a socialist were making this film, the "value" (as in monetary value) of the doll would be a sign of "possession" and someone wanting the doll because it's valuable, so they are "possessed" with "possessing material goods," we saw this in The Conjuring and the mother's desire to have their own home. (While the first film, The Conjuring, was pro-socialist, Annabelle was pro-capitalist, as was The Conjuring II: The Enfield Poltergeist, and I expect Annabelle: Creation to be pro-capitalist as well.
How do I arrive at Mr. Mullins being a "god figure" in this clip? There is a lot of light, coming from the right side of the screen; light, especially natural light--but it doesn't have to be--indicates illumination from within. His back is to us, so we can't know who this is, although we have some idea; we know it's a craftsman because we see all the parts, pieces and tools; there might also be the idea that in heaven, we are like the dolls which God puts together. Unlike the doll maker we see above, however, God gives us a heart, a soul, and a mind along with free will, so we are not empty. Socialists, on the other hand, contend that we are created empty because we are animals, not the children of God. I am guessing, but I could be wrong, that the Mullins' sin is idolatry: they worship their little girl over worshiping God who created her. This would be an apt sin to examine because people who worship their material goods (and we aren't talking about building an alter and offering incense to a car or a great set of gold clubs) because they have an unhealthy amount of love/desire for those material goods, are easy fodder for socialists who claim that getting rid of material goods will make society a better place. No, it won't, only worshiping God and giving Him the credit due Him will make society better, because our hearts will then be balanced and natural instead of loving things in an unnatural way.
On a different note, we know that Mr. Mullins' name is "Samuel," which invokes the prophet who anointed both Saul and David; Samuel was an only child of his mother, Hannah, and his name means, "God has heard," because God heard Hannah's prayer asking for a son,... Mrs. Mullins' name is Esther, after the queen. Esther was originally born "Myrtle," because she was meant to bear fruit, like the trees we will discuss below; "Esther" means "star" but can also mean "hidden one," which we certainly see when she puts on her fake face piece. Both of these names we will need to keep in mind so we can "mull over them" and understand why the film makers chose these two Biblical names for their characters. 
The next shots are of the dis-embodied doll parts: an arm here, a torso over there, etc. Why is this so creepy? The body parts are de-contextualized and, even though they belong to a doll, it's creepy because those parts resemble human parts closely enough that it makes us think, "That could be my arm. That could be my torso." We actually saw this way back in Resident Evil: Retribution and the clone factory: we could even say this is the place where "golems" are made (those clay figures into who the name of God is breathed and so they take on life, since "Bee" the little girl who dies asks to be allowed to live in Annabelle the doll and give the doll "life." This scene, however, becomes more "sinister" when we see "the empty face," the face with no eyes, mouth or mind behind it; why? It's like a zombie.
We will probably have to watch this film several times to even begin to capture the majority of details being offered for our "intellectual consumption" in Annabelle: Creation. Let's take a look at this seemingly unimportant transition scene. First, in the top image, we see the bus pulling onto the Mullins' property; so? Notice how dusty it is? That's a sign of the desert, where nothing grows, there is no Grace (it seems the Mullins are good people who wanted to do penance for their sins, however, there is something they have held back or won't let go of which continues to separate them from God). Please notice, on the right side of the top image, the dead trees: dead trees symbolize sin, because where God is, good things grow (You know a tree by the fruit it bears, and every tree is supposed to bear some sort of fruit, even if just shade, so trees which bear no fruit are dead because of the root of sin). However, on the left side of the house, the trees are alive because there is some sin nurturing them to grow. Again, notice how dusty it is and the "desert conditions" which are the opposite of the Garden of Eden.
Janice's bad leg is her left leg. Legs symbolize our "standing" in society, so either Janice feels she doesn't have any standing in society, and that cripples her, or she let's her bad leg keep her from having a standing in society (or, of course, something else entirely the film will introduce). But watch for how she got her bad leg and how she responds to it.
In the bottom image, we see her dress is green, and the bus is green, too. This is important because the Mullins' truck we see--just as their daughter gets run-over--is green and Esther Mullins wears a green dress just as Janice wears a green dress in this image above. "Green" symbolizes new life, and hope, or that something has gone rotten and is no good. Is Janice a metaphor of Esther Mullins and the sin Esther has harbored in her heart all these years? There is a very good chance of that, but it's not necessary.
Now, on a different note, Janice's best friend, Linda, portrayed by Lulu Wilson, was recently in another horror film, Ouija: Origin of Evil, which I am confident is a pro-socialist film, unlike the first Ouija, which was pro-capitalist. If you have time to watch Origin of Evil, I would suggest you do before Annabelle Creation because the casting of Lulu is likely meant to invoke that film (when the demon-as-Bee stands at the window, and Janice comes up behind it and the girl says, "You help me, I'll help you," and then it turns to show Janice its real face, that looks nearly identical to the demon we see in Origin of Evil, meaning, the Annabelle creators wanted to make commentary on Origin of Evil and did so by creating a bridge of reference with the casting of Lulu. 
This is likely the "eye beneath the magnifying glass" part the trailer warned us about: are you a zombie, or are you going to see and understand what we are telling you? Well, what is it telling us? You are one of a kind (the limited edition). There is no one else like you. God made you with love, to be loved and to receive love. If, however, you abuse love and the life you have been given, you become a curse, not only to yourself, but to all others as well. We see the exact opposite of this with the appearance of the armadillo on the island in Wonder Woman, because armadillos have young that are all genetically identical, so the makers of Wonder Woman are saying, you might think you are special and unique, but you aren't (please see God-Killer: Wonder Woman for more). People who are not filled with the dignity of love and individuality are empty, like the dislocated limbs we see hanging up in the shop, and they are zombies, because they do not recognize the love God has for them (we get a good sense of this when Janice--the little girl with the bad leg--tells the nun about feeling God's presence vs feeling the presence of the "evil one"). Let's watch the second trailer for the film:
As Ed and Lorraine Warren taught us in The Conjuring, and we see carried out even in this trailer: evil requires our consent. Little Janice--whose bad leg just happens to be her left leg--will somehow acquiesce to the demon which takes the form of little Bee (the dead daughter). The parents agree to let Bee live in the doll; why? Because their daughter has become an idol to them, and the Annabelle doll becomes a "golden calf," which they can see and enjoy her presence. At 1:55, we have the most important line of the film: It's coming after me because I'm the weakest. What have we seen in the real world that goes after the "weakest" in society?
Socialism.
This film is going to be loaded with symbols. Let's start with the image above, seeing as this is a "fateful moment" in the film. Their truck is green, so that means their "natural vehicle" as a family unit is hope (vehicles symbolize the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is the Will of God, and we go where God wills and then green symbolizes hope and new life); there is a problem though: they have a flat tire. This means, and I am sure the narrative will supply it, that there is something within the lives of the Mullins family which causes them all ready to be depressed (even before their daughter dies) or not completely cooperating with the will of God. In the foreground is a mailbox; why? Mailboxes hold messages, and in this scene, we are being given a "message" from the film makers if we are smart enough to collect it. I will pick up on this theme in the body of the post, however, we need to point this out here: is it the oncoming truck that kills the little girl, or is it the little girl running out in front of the truck that kills her? Do you blame inanimate objects--like the truck--for taking the girl's life, or that the girl made a mistake and went on the road that is meant for trucks, not little girls, and was accidentally killed as a result? Socialists will say, "It's the truck's fault: if there were no trucks, then the little girl would still be alive," because socialists want to do away with the personal freedom vehicles provide; capitalists, on the other hand, who believe in free will, will argue that the fault lies with the little girl because roads are made for vehicles not for playing, so she was somewhere she wasn't supposed to be. In America, we have seen this argument with guns and gun control. Later on, we will discuss the line of Linda (Lulu Wilson) who says, "This doll is hurting Janice!" and drops it into the well; can the doll hurt Janice, or is it the presence haunting the doll?
In the second image down, when Esther Mullins sees "Annabelle" being transformed into the demon and she drops the Crucifix, we briefly see the shoes she wears: red. This should have sent off alarms, dear reader. We know the color red symbolizes the appetites, because our blood (which is red) is the most valuable thing we have, so we are only going to spend our blood on what we crave most in life: either we will spill our blood (red) for someone we love, or we will spill their blood to appease the wrath we have against them. Shoes symbolize our will, because our feet take us in life where we want to go the way our will decides where it is we want to go. So, as we watch the film, we will have to decide, did Esther Mullins agree to let the demon enter the doll because she loved her daughter so much, or because she was mad at God for taking their daughter away (remember, in the trailer, she says their daughter was "taken" from them)?
In the bottom image, we see what will surely be an excellent device in the film: the face mask of Esther Mullins. Besides indicating that she has become a "doll zombie" like our discussion above (because the face symbolizes our identity, and part of her identity is fake) it's also on the left side of her face, like Janice's bad leg, and the flat tire on their truck in the image at the top. Just as Esther has lost a part of herself in the battle against the Annabelle doll, so, too, has Samuel, even though his "sacrifice" might not be so obvious (like he quits making dolls, so he loses his professional identity, for example; I don't know if he does quit making dolls, this is just an example of a possibility).
Socialism wants everyone to believe they are weak and victims. Socialism doesn't want anyone to believe they are strong and self-sufficient. Here is another trailer. Let me point out, that Linda (Lulu Wilson, the one who ditches the doll into the well) is Janice's best friend:
So, what is the "mistake" that each character makes that we can see all ready in this trailer? They entertain evil. They do what the evil wants them to do; why? Because they can't "see" that it is going to lead to evil. For example, Mr and Mrs Mullins let the demon move into the doll; Janice follows the notes--who in their right mind would follow notes from someone they can't see?--and then we see Linda going back to peer into the well after she has thrown the doll down into. Each character interacts with evil because they are not interacting with God. Rather than praying to God to deliver her, the one girl simply covers her eyes and says, "It's not real, it's not real!" but she knows the devil is real, and pretending he is not won't do anything to save her.
This is the real Annabelle doll (on the left) of which the real Lorraine Warren speaks in the opening featurette of this post; on the right is the Annabelle doll created for The Conjuring, when we were first introduced to her. For analysis on the differences between the two dolls, and why the one of the right is so incredibly different from the one on the left, please see The Devil's Hour: The Conjuring, at the very bottom of the post.
On a different note, thank you, dear readers, for your patience: my grandma is still battling sepsis, it's a terrible infection, and she's in horrible pain; she is not expected to survive. Thank you so much for remembering her, my aunt and dad in your prayers. She might pull through, I am praying for that, I know her life isn't over yet, but when the Lord calls, He calls, so if this is her time, we will have the funeral, family planning, packing of personal belongings, etc., which will have to be done; she may pass tonight, it might be in a couple of days. I don't particularly feel like seeing a horror film this weekend--the past week has been a horror film--but I do want to see Annabelle Creation, but because of events beyond my control, it might not be this weekend. I am still working on The Dark Tower and will probably get that up before the review for Annabelle. Thank you so very much for your patience!
God bless!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner