There’s a song by the American band Bright Eyes titled “We Are Nowhere, And It’s Now,” where Conor Oberst (the lead vocalist) asks us in the first stanza, “Why are you scared to dream of God When it’s salvation that you want? You see stars that clear have been dead for years But the idea just lives on” Just moments before, he says, “And if you swear that there’s no truth and who cares, how come you say it like you’re right?” Wise words, also for those who don’t find salvation in God, nor in any other Religion, nor in the ultimate Nothingness. Their only salvation is in life, living, and, as long as they’re allowed, refusing to die. This opinion pertains to I Origins, but it’s filled with doubts and examples.
Because I Origins, considered the best film at the 2014 Sitges Film Festival, reflects on Death, Science, Spirituality, Reincarnation, Signs, etc., and it does all of this in capital letters, under the aura of New Age indie cinema, as pseudo-intellectual as it is pseudo-romantic, perfect for anyone who has never pondered much about what the film director and screenwriter Mike Cahill aims to present here. The actor Michael Pitt portrays Ian Gray, our main character, a doctoral student in molecular biology obsessed with photographing human eyes, because, as the genius claims, each person has their own (and it’s also not the same as taking photos of fingerprints; it’s less appealing). At a dull Halloween party, Ian meets a girl with unique eyes (the only thing visible beneath her disguise), who, after disappearing furtively and unexpectedly, leaves him with the small obsession of finding her.
A Look at the Evidence: I Origins Ending Explained
If you’re referring to the final sequence with the protagonist descending the stairs while carrying the girl with the eyes of his deceased wife —the same eyes he had been masturbating to half an hour before—, the explanation for the ending of I Origins is that the deceased woman has been reincarnated in that Indian girl. Indeed: the essence of the film revolves around reincarnation. That simple. A movie about how this man —I will discuss in depth in a moment— found the woman who could have been his soulmate and behaves in a very peculiar way around her until disturbing things happen.
If you’re looking for explanation for the I Origins after credits scene explained, it’s even easier to answer: since the vision of the Indian girl through the eyes of the protagonist’s ex-girlfriend confirms the existence of reincarnation, this means that everyone who has died has already been reincarnated at some point. And, since the protagonist should not be the first to discover it, the scene after the credits shows that there is an organization that is looking for the Hitlers of universal history and other relevant historical figures, so to speak.
Gray, who is a scientist through and through (that’s why he wears glasses), has fallen in love with Sofi (not Sophie), as we’ll discover is her name later, the character portrayed by the actress Astrid Bergès-Frisbey. This is why, following the 11:11 signs, he ends up finding her and seeing her again. She flees from him, not before giving him a piece of gum; he lends her the headphones of his MP3 player, so she can listen to the music of the band The Dø, before she can escape. Since then, they become inseparable. I won’t continue so as not to spoil something already spoiled by the trailers —the plot— but if at one point in I Origins, Michael Pitt mentions a thought that came to him at the very end of his previous relationship, remember that minutes before he had already placed an engagement ring on her finger… Well, very scientific, but there you were thinking with your penis.
Beyond its slow-motion scenes, its overt pedantry, or its typical yet atypical tropes of American independent cinema (such as the overuse of uniquely formed romantic relationships, surreal conversations, very personal but always profound and enjoyable humor between couples, where regular love affairs have no place), I must admit, when addressing my opinion about this film, that what interests me the most is its core, its explanation.
With I Origins, I’ve had the same nauseating feeling I get when Evangelists, Mormons, or Movementarianism members knock on my door, coming into my home uninvited, trying to show me the light without me asking for it, and assuming that I don’t enjoy my own darkness. It’s a matter of manners: I don’t meddle with the beliefs of people who only remember God when things are good (like thanking Him for recovering from a serious illness) and not when things are bad (did the devil give it to us or how did that happen?), so don’t meddle in mine.
Anyway, as in this world you always have to take a stand on everything, I’ll say that I’m agnostic (there you go, that’s my stance!) and that, despite or thanks to that, I hold a bit of both perspectives. For instance, I believe in the soul, yes, if —as Lisa Simpson paraphrasing Neruda said— laughter is its language. But I wonder, is Alzheimer’s the death of the soul then? It’s just an example, but I could provide several more. Do non-human animals have souls? When I die, will I be reunited with all my loved ones? Many animals are. Does that include my ex-partners? And how will my current partner feel about that, once she gets to Heaven, or even before if she’s very jealous?
Moreover, our dependence varies according to the belief we base ourselves on. Has John the Baptist already confirmed that he is the reincarnation of Elijah? And if, in reality, we are reincarnated upon death, what purpose does it serve me? If what I don’t want is to forget this current life, to not have others that I will also forget, but from which, supposedly, I will retain a residual memory, though useless for me, as it will only hold value for those fortunate enough to know me more than once. What’s the point of remembering this life then? Also, what about Heaven, if it’s assumed that until the day of the Apocalypse we’ll all be dead and it’s only then that we will revive, for a proper cleansing.
Lastly, to avoid extending this beyond advisable limits, when Jesus Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die,” was he referring to the belief that yes, he existed and was the first hippie of humanity, or should we believe in a more spiritual sense? Nothing convinces me, so I appreciate the interest, but don’t convince me, for if I haven’t convinced myself, you won’t either, whether you’re named Mike Cahill or Antonio María Rouco Varela.
Why do I have the bitter feeling that in I Origins, they’re trying to persuade me of something? Simple, because the director, in the context of a real and present world, where science investigates and either finds or doesn’t find answers, and where religion fills those gaps, or not, with its interpretations, employs a rather tricky tactic in which he attempts to make both shake hands: turning something impossible into something empirically plausible. There comes a point where, either he develops the new and interesting argument, or I Origins turns into a mere joke, and ultimately, he doesn’t develop it. For instance, in “Enter the Void” (Gaspar Noé, 2009), everything has an internal logic that doesn’t negatively affect the viewer (unless they dislike the film); we witness the protagonist, or rather, we see his point of view, his development, and his conclusion. “Enter the Void” is consistent and honest with itself and the viewer, I Origins isn’t.
Notable Quotes from the Film I Origins
On the other hand, the protagonist isn’t an intelligent man; he’s a man with an education who even makes us believe during the first half of the film that he’s a person brimming with emotions, only to suddenly reveal that he isn’t; that a hug is enough to leave it all behind. His girlfriend… we don’t know what she is, but, even though she’s childish and incapable of openly discussing personal matters from the past, she’s obsessed with debating with her partner whether God exists or not, about spiritual matters and everything related. A fictionalized example of one of the many conversations they have on the same topic throughout the film:
- Ian: I’m a scientist, I believe in evidence.
- Sofi: But come on, I believe in God and I’m very spiritual. Become one too, there’s a ton of info on the internet about it.
- Ian: But I’m a scientist! Show me the… I mean the eyes, let me take some photos.
- Sofi: Don’t you dare steal my soul, thief.
Well, look at that evidence! Clever. In short, and more seriously now, I Origins is well-directed, despite the aforementioned mannerisms and its slight predictability, but the final revelation in the film is emotional and unexpected enough to raise it to an almost passing grade, but because my soul is full of kindness and values ideas and good intentions above the bad ones, which I’m responsible for —my current self, the perishable and transient vessel of my immortal soul. Because even the songs in I Origins are spine-chilling.
I watched and rated I Origins ★★ on Thursday Nov 6, 2014
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.