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The Beginning, the End, and then the Beginning Again…

The Beginning, the End, and then the Beginning Again…

The animated film “Inception”, a beloved and cherished classic among both the middle and older generations, holds a special place in our hearts. This timeless production was crafted in 1981 by “Azerbaijantelefilm,” commissioned by the Central Television of the USSR. The screenplay for this animated gem was penned by Rustam Ibragimbekov, with Fikret Abbaszadeh as the artist and Vagif Behbudov at the helm as the director. This philosophical parable delves into the eternal struggle between opposing forces, akin to the age-old narrative of Abel and Cain. It explores the eternal binary conflict between constructive and destructive, or in simpler terms, positive and negative elements. It’s against the backdrop of this profound struggle that I aim to share my thoughts in this article, delving into the hidden principle of the continuity of life.

To begin, for those who have yet to experience the film, allow me to offer a brief overview of the plot of the three-part structure of the screenplay. It’s a relatively straightforward narrative, and I won’t concern myself with spoilers, as the journey leading to the film is as significant as the outcome itself. Indeed, in this tale, the ending doesn’t mark the conclusion. Much like the eternal struggle between Good and Evil, a battle that will persist as long as the world exists, this story continues to unfold.

Wandering through the desert, the “blonde Good” roams restlessly and eventually stumbles upon an oasis. Initially, he quenches his thirst and sets about creating a comfortable haven, considering the available resources. However, the antagonistic character, the “Brunette Bad,” wastes no time in making his appearance. He knows his role all too well – to maintain the natural equilibrium by opposing the forces of good. Where there is positivity, there must also exist negativity; it’s the principle that if there is good, there must be evil. Just as “Good” fulfills its purpose, “Bad” carries out its mission with equal determination. The oasis is dismantled, the characters’ part ways, but behold, a new oasis is discovered, and these contrasting, or dare I say, complementary characters once again confront each other. They stand ready for a fresh struggle, a new twist in the narrative. It’s an unstoppable cycle, a reciprocal relationship that serves as the primary condition for the continuity of life.

The theme explored by the scriptwriter delves into the age-old binary opposition of negative and positive, a concept deeply embedded in the human subconscious across all eras and cultures. This binary underpins the very mechanics of nature itself. It manifests in various forms such as good and evil, good and bad, fire and water, male and female, yes and no, protagonist and antagonist. Their perpetual “struggle” serves as the driving force behind the intricate machinery of life. I would describe it more as a collaboration, a mutual dance, rather than a mere struggle, because it’s the interplay between this binary opposition that engenders continuity. The demise of one component equates to the destruction of the other, ultimately leading to the annihilation of life and existence as a whole. While the plot revolves around the conflict between two characters, it uncovers the fundamental essence of life itself. Termed in terms of constructive and destructive, progress and regression, protector and destroyer, white and black (in this film, blonde and brunette), these characters epitomize the wise old man and trickster archetypes outlined in Carl Jung’s theory.

As a side note, if you’ve noticed, I specifically mentioned that one of the characters is blonde while the other is a brunette. While it’s true that in mythology, evil is often symbolized by darker colors and good by brighter ones, the visual differences between these contrasting characters go beyond just their hair color. The blonde character’s features and physiognomy lean more towards a Slavic appearance, while the brunett’s is closer to a Caucasian look. Additionally, considering that glasses are typically associated with intellectuals in movies, we can see that the blonde character represents the scientific community, while the brunette character, in a similar vein, embodies the opposite.

But why would such an approach be observed in an animated film produced in Azerbaijan? The answer takes us back a century. When our region fell under Soviet control, the field of filmmaking, a potent tool for propagating socialist ideology, was extensively utilized for propaganda purposes.

The early years of the new government saw the effective utilization of newly emerging visual mediums to influence ordinary people. Within the framework of what would later be termed “social realism,” the Soviet government made extensive use of documentaries, fiction, and animated films to instill its ideology in the countries under its control. Hereby, in the film “Beginning,” the “good” character, depicted with a Slavic persona, aimed to subconsciously convey the idea that the Soviet government was benevolent, constructive, caring, and intelligent. It’s important to note that we shouldn’t fault the production studio for aligning with the prevailing realities of that era. However, upon reflecting on this phenomenon years later, it’s intriguing to delve into a deeper analysis.

When we dive into an intra-narrative analysis of the images presented, it becomes apparent that the “Good” character is primarily focused on restoration rather than creation. His glasses reveal his origins from a civilization with advanced industry, and his past experiences serve as his only companions. Drawing from this background, his intention is to transplant elements of his culture into the newly discovered oasis, aiming to both live within it and preserve his heritage. He exists, and what he lives essentially embodies the culture to which he belongs. It’s intriguing to note that in the depth of his actions, there is a contradiction with nature. For instance, he disrupts the natural flow of water by redirecting it upward through a mill, he transforms tree trunks from their original state to construct houses, and he ingeniously assembles large plant leaves in the form of a seheng (traditional water vessel) In essence, he dismantles one reality to construct a new one. Within this new reality, various elements undergo a metamorphosis, adopting fresh forms and acquiring new meanings. Indeed, as an example, when tree branches and leaves are skillfully assembled into a specific configuration, a completely new object emerges, one with a distinct name and purpose – a shelter or a house. This phenomenon aligns with the principles of Gestalt psychology, where the whole entity holds more significance than the mere sum of its individual parts. What we witness in this scenario is essentially a combination of components, each possessing unique names and meanings. However, due to the infusion of fresh meaning into this entirety, we perceive, interpret, and label it in its entirely new form.

From this perspective, I would comprehend concepts like good and evil, negative and positive, not as isolated entities, but as part of a dualistic system, working together towards a common goal – the perpetuation of life. This idea of two opposing forces being essential for the structure and continuity of life is prevalent in the myths of ancient civilizations. For instance, in Scandinavian mythology, the world’s creation hinges on the interplay of fire and water, with one flowing from the north and the other from the south (opposite poles), ultimately merging into a harmonious existence. This harmony, or balance, emerges from the fusion of cold and heat. In addition to the contrasting negative and positive characters in the film, there are other binary elements at play. The desert, ignited by scorching heat, stands in stark contrast to the oasis, where a river runs through its heart, remaining untouched. Similarly, the searing heat of the sun and the cool water are interdependent for their existence. The heat creates a compelling scenario for the characters, transforming water into the ultimate reward in their situation. Just as when both characters stumbled upon the oasis, their immediate instinct was to seek water, recognizing it as the ultimate prize. In this context, it’s worth noting the work “Good and Evil” by Nizami Ganjavi.

In a desert scenario where two individuals, Good and Evil, confront their thirst during their journey, Evil presents an offer: he’s willing to exchange the water he’s secretly carried for Good’s eyes. This offer catalyzes action, sparks development, and sets a narrative in motion. A current, in essence, is akin to the potential difference between two ends of a uniform system, much like the release of electrical energy. It’s akin to the process of reproduction, where the interaction between male and female sexes ensures the continuity of a species. Even in single-celled organisms that reproduce through mitosis (monoecious), the concept of binary remains relevant, as this division relies on opposing poles.

From this perspective, I can assert that the film’s theme and plot serve as a representation of the fundamental binary opposites, which constitute the primary energy and driving force behind existence, within the realm of human expression. “Good” and “Evil” carry out their paramount role as an inseparable pair, and through their collective actions, they bring to fruition what was initiated, reinvigorating what has concluded, thus guaranteeing the eternal continuity of life.

So, it’s a perpetual cycle: the beginning, the end, and then the beginning once more.

Khayal Efendi

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