Sunday, 1 February 2009

The Reader

I've just seen The Reader which is definitely my favourite film out of the five Oscar nominated films this year. The film raises a moral issue which, I think, is a Saturn/Neptune dilemma. Should we feel compassion for those people who have committed atrocious acts? People who do monstrous things, are they monsters themselves? And I think it all comes down to whether we consider ourselves to be separate entities or connected to the rest of humanity.
In the film, a young boy falls in love with Hanna Schmitz (wonderfully played - as always- by Kate Winslet) who was a female guard in a concentration camp. The boy, of course, doesn't initially know who she really is, they have a brief but intense love affair which scars him for life, and when he eventually finds out the truth, he is torn between his feelings for her and the terrible realization that he fell in love with a war criminal.
Are these two incompatible? If we adopt the Saturnian separatist view, yes they are. This person is the personification of evil and evil people must be destroyed. There are some acts that are simply unforgivable. We must separate ourselves from these people, otherwise we will be contaminated. Our salvation, our own sanity depend on our dissociating from them because only in this way can we guarantee that we side with "good" and help eliminate evil.
However, when Neptune comes in, the picture becomes blurred. We realize that we CAN love evil people and these people CAN become the object of our affections and can even show love themselves. How is this possible? How can one be human and a monster at the same time?According to Neptune, one can.
That's why Neptune is such a difficult planet to live with. You can never be sure about anything. You can never judge anyone. We are all connected to one another and one person's monstrosity is our own. Because if a person who is supposedly leading a good and decent life, is also capable of unspeakable acts under certain circumstances, what does that say about us? Can we ever be completely sure that we would not have done the same, had we been in their place? It's tempting to say yes, but the truth is, no.
Bernhard Schlinck, the author of the book on which this film is based, has a strong Saturn/Neptune square in his birth chart. And even though he has four planets in Cancer and the North Node there, he has a Capricorn Moon. It seems that doing the socially acceptable thing as opposed to living by the irrationality of feeling, is part of his biological make-up. Is there a middle ground? And if so, what is it? I would very much like to know.

See the trailer

1 comment:

  1. beautiful analysis this one Petro... the truth is that this kind of moral issues, what I would do if I were at someone else's place, how far can someone go depending the circumstances have always troubled me...I always wondered how normal those people who cross the line were or seemed before doing it... how they felt, what led them do something terrible,what I would do if I were in their shoes, is it possible for a person so self-controlled as I am to cross the line...I had the same thoughts when I watched this lovely film...these thoughts are torturing sometimes and make me feel awkward even crossing my mind...on the other side I believe in justice and punishment without a I see how this Saturn-Neptune opposition works...