Eternals

The lockdown ended. I have healed in body. I rejoined the gym. I got done with my double vaccination. I wanted to go for a movie in the theatre. So my partner, sister and I went for Eternals at INOX, Malad. I was excited to see Angelina Jolie play an immortal. She being as old as I, I wished to see how we compare. Delusions of grandeur, but they are what they are, then.

It was at the back of my mind that I had not gone for a movie since February, 2020, when my family was full and I had not lost two people I love. Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan had been the last movie I saw in the theatres before the virus attack and the crescendo of chaos that followed.

We went to the same theatre. The mood was not truly festive, though I tried making it so with selfies and snapchat. The mall was lovely. The theatre within, grand. I forgot though how I had felt after my losses. The moment you remember past experience at a certain spot: a selfie there, a touch there, a hug there, holding hands in the theatre and sharing popcorn.

The seats were the same but there were alternate placements. We were separated by a seat on either side. The experience was not the same.  Loss glared and memories churned. The movie –

Eternals is a brilliant movie. It is different from the scale and brightness of the Avengers, but it, too, resumes after loss, after the deaths of heroes we shared a decade with. It begins with the creation of all being, it transports us through time, intermittently with the present. It is not confusing, the time leaps or flashbacks are placed more to prevent confusion. It is not like the earlier marvel films, it is more adult, and more inclusive.

And let’s just get this out of the way, the reason for it being banned, please, nonsensical. One of the superheroes is gay, has a lover and a child and shares one same-sex kiss. If people still have a problem with this, in this day and age, then it truly is their problem.

Moving on, the film is more mature, despite all the naysayers, it is. I mean, we are talking about dazzlingly handsome gods with hammers flying around in other Marvel movies. Here, we see the Eternals being given the task of protecting humanity from the Deviants. They have been appointed this task by the Celestials, “superior” immortals. They are not supposed to interfere in events that humanity itself creates, or the wars and destruction humanity also creates. That is the long and short of it.

So now, I imagine the High Elves of Middle-earth, who were appointed to the task to guide the second children of Eru, Men. Being immortal, one has to face the weariness of life and the sheer stupidity of humanity. But also immortality makes one understand that humanity is capable of greater things. More importantly, being immortal, one begins to take on human emotion. When one recognizes love and its vessel, the vessel itself needs to be protected.. That is what the crux of the film actually is. It may be maudlin. It may be a bit of a cliché, but it is what it is.

Chloé Zhao succeeds in bringing this to the forefront. People who don’t want to appreciate what the film is trying to convey, will not, and it is alright. The director has done well with creating a superhero movie. It is not bad, like the Superman vs Batman movie, it is not as good as the first Wonder Woman, but it makes for good fare. It brings up issues like the horror human beings have in their hearts to commit, the weight of living life as an immortal and the idea of love that can be understood even by those who are not human.

For me, Angelina Jolie stands out as goddess of war, Thena, and Gemma Chan has done a fair job as the gentle Sersi. Salma Hayek. as the motherly Ajak, completes the main female trinity. The film has well-crafted action scenes. Angelina is made for roles like these, by the way.

The movie had two scenes which touched me. One where Barry Keoghan as Druig confronts Ajak and tells her that he cannot remain an idle bystander while human beings commit atrocities on one another. Two, where Thena speaks to Sersi and talks to her about why humanity needs to be protected. The themes are simple and they are treated simplistically. These are gods who can do something about something and they do it. Simple.

I went there to watch Angelina and I ended up liking the movie. In the last Avengers movie, I went to see – I don’t even remember who I went to see. I probably will see this movie again though. It made me think about the love I have lost and the love I have gained. It reminded me that life is shit and our purpose here is to try and stop it being shitty. I left the theatre not feeing cheated of the seven hundred bucks I paid to watch the movie, and scenes from the movie remain with me hours later.

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