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Humane Scriptwriting

a film analysis of 'I Origins' by Nakshatra

Mike Cahill’s ‘I Origins’ (2014) is a movie that entrances it’s viewers both visually and conceptually. a beautiful take on how much multidimensional views are appreciated in films, as much as they are appreciated in a character.

Although ‘I Origins’ summarily portrays itself as a film that focuses on distinguishing between your trust in faith and proven data, towards the end you begin to ask yourself what it is that even sets them apart, especially since both the themes rely on the viewers' willingness to learn and to accept the unknown.

By giving both sides a fair prospect, not only does the film stir a beautiful plot but it also makes you feel included in every scene that the narrative cuts to, creating an allusion that you feel tempted to frame opinions about only to delay your eventual acceptance.

The film revolves around focusing on the prime character's dilemma of feeling the need to choose between faith and logic as he meets an enigmatic woman named Sofi.

It opens with Ian Gray, a Ph.D. student studying about the evolution of the eye to create the ability of vision for a blindsight organism(a plot point which serves as an ironic remark against his rigid beliefs).

Ian then soon stumbles upon Sofi, a free-spirited woman who at first notice seems to be convinced that they've met each other in their former lives. What begins as a meet-cute, shortly ends with her death on the day of their wedding.

For more context, let us analyze two of my favorite scenes.

I. the foreshadowing of Sofi's death

''Sofi: Do you know the story of the Phasianidae?

Ian: The... No, what's that?

Sofi: It's a bird that experiences all of time in one instant and she sings the song of love and anger and fear and joy and sadness all at once. And this bird... when she meets the love of her life... is both happy and sad. Happy because she sees that for him it is the beginning, and sad because she knows it is already over.''

This scene between Sofi and Ian -from one of their days together before her demise- foreshadows her involvement in Ian's life as a whole.

Even though she is aware of the short time they have together, like the Phasianidae, she is unable to do anything about it.

- this can be taken as a nod to Sofi being aware of her eventual death after she's met Ian (which adds a more spiritual edge)


- this can be taken as a nod to how we humans as a whole don't value or realize the time we have left with our loved ones (which adds a more theoretical edge)

The subject here can even be interpreted in both ways if the viewer wishes, but the focus lingers on the writing style that Cahill delves into in order to get the above stated conflictive statements from the audience.

II. the conversation about Dalai lama

''Priya Varma: You know a scientist once asked the Dalai Lama, "What would you do if something scientific disproved your religious beliefs?" And he said, after much thought, "I would look at all the papers. I'd take a look at all the research and really try to understand things. And in the end, if it was clear that the scientific evidence disproved my spiritual beliefs, I would change my beliefs."

Ian: That's a good answer.

Priya Varma: Ian... what would you do if something spiritual disproved your scientific beliefs?''

through this scene, the film makes it clear that they aren't picking sides.

- it isn't forcing an ideology or an agenda onto anybody. 'Dalai Lama' is taken as an example to represent the mentality that Cahill is trying to build within his protagonist. one that is ready to accept the possibility of their beliefs and opinions being in the wrong. (as Priya question's Ian on his lack of acceptance towards the inexplainable)

Cahill takes on subjects like atheism, spirituality, reincarnation, faith, etc. both very respectfully and beautifully. creating an illusion of a 'separation' but weaving it as one, as the story prolongs.

'I origins' is a lot like Robert Zemicks’s 1997 sci-fi film 'CONTACT' which also features protagonists with contradicting beliefs. This parallel format of writing a character arc allows a film to develop a more humane way of presenting the different themes as they give the writer the liberty and the challenge to explore themes -from both of its (themes) perspectives- this is also notably seen in Scott Derrickson's 2005 horror/thriller 'THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE' which also deals with both the scientific and religious views on Emily Rose's supposed 'demonic-possession'.

By ultimately leaving the answer up to the audience, such films and shows bring out the actual joy in writing a structured script.

Making us all feel like a part of the story as well.


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