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Æon Flux: a Symbolic Analysis

In a visual art form such as an animated series, the creators must make savvy choices about what to show the audience if an aesthetic end is to be reached.  The creators of Æon Flux depend largely on symbolic images in the episode “A Last Time for Everything” to convey deep images regarding the interaction of the id, the ego, and the superego.

The animation in this series is very unique in that the artists do not use animation to attempt to imitate reality, but instead use it as another flexible tool in the theme-delivery process.  All characters are given insectoid characteristics such as long thin arms and fingers and the ability to walk and perch on sheer surfaces.  The two main characters in this episode show this quite well; Scafandra is multidextrous and Æon’s hair resembles antennae.  One possible psychoanalytic interpretation of the insectoid nature of the characters is to see the overdramatic physical animation as a way of driving home the strong theme of the characters’ sexuality to the audience.

The curving, spiraling shape of Æon’s hair is a motif that can be seen throughout the episode in smoke, the sun, water swirls, weapons, and other seemingly insignificant images.  The clever placement of this image shows the creators’ attempts to subconsciously suggest this shape to the audience without much overt attention.  The shape is reminiscent of Golden spiral, which is created from the Golden Ratio of the Fibonacci Sequence.  This ratio, and therefore this perfect spiral shape, is found throughout the natural world in the shape of galaxies, DNA, conch shells, etc. and is considered by many scholars to represent the inherent mathematical nature of the world.  When considering this evidence and attempting to relate it to “A Last Time for Everything,” one may interpret this motif as a remark of the inherent baseness and the lustful humanity displayed by the principle characters.  Æon is seen to set aside technology, which is usually her chosen weapon, and instead arm herself with nature, that is, the natural impulses that are a result of Trevor’s lust, to gain her the ultimate victory of Trevor’s despair.  Through an unfortunate set of events, Æon’s own humanity gets in the way of accomplishing her missions as she originally intended it.  The heartbeat that is heard during the episode’s more intense sexual moments seems to be a herald of humanity coming through that has been denied these two characters.  This episode’s theme speaks of naturality and humanity being the downfall of two opposing sexual beings.

Trevor’s widow’s peak can be seen as the most oppressive phallic symbol of the episode.  The jagged edges of his hairline stand for both his jagged personality and his desire to hurt the woman that he also wishes to bed; such a jagged and pine tree-like phallus would certainly hurt a woman in a very physical and emotional way, which mirrors Trevor’s wishes for Æon.  When Trevor’s face becomes enrages and fierce, the hairline swells in a very sexual way and the sharp edges become even more violent.  This pairing of sex and female genital mutilation is symbolic of Trevor’s subconscious response to and defense against Æon, who’s predominant weapon against Trevor is her sexuality, and who seems to exploit one of his few weaknesses.

These symbols seem to be a main avenue of communication from the minds behind Æon Flux and the audience.  Special attention should be payed to these intelligently placed symbols if the themes of the episode are to be successfully conveyed.

This was a portion of a group paper written at Brandeis University with three other students as part of the mandatory freshman writing seminar.  Our task was to apply Freudian analytic technique to an episode of Æon Flux, specifically the episode with the cloning called "A Last Time For Everything" (which was awesome, like every episode).  My portion, reprinted below, was on the the symbols and imagery used in the episode, and what Freud might have made of them, had he heard about them in the context of a dream.  The paper makes very little sense, although it reads well.




 

In a visual art form such as an animated series, the creators must make savvy choices about what to show the audience if an aesthetic end is to be reached.  The creators of Æon Flux depend largely on symbolic images in the episode “A Last Time for Everything” to convey deep images regarding the interaction of the id, the ego, and the superego.
The animation in this series is very unique in that the artists do not use animation to attempt to imitate reality, but instead use it as another flexible tool in the theme-delivery process.  All characters are given insectoid characteristics such as long thin arms and fingers and the ability to walk and perch on sheer surfaces.  The two main characters in this episode show this quite well; Scafandra is multidextrous and Æon’s hair resembles antennae.  One possible psychoanalytic interpretation of the insectoid nature of the characters is to see the overdramatic physical animation as a way of driving home the strong theme of the characters’ sexuality to the audience.


The curving, spiraling shape of Æon’s hair is a motif that can be seen throughout the episode in smoke, the sun, water swirls, weapons, and other seemingly insignificant images.  The clever placement of this image shows the creators’ attempts to subconsciously suggest this shape to the audience without much overt attention.  The shape is reminiscent of Golden spiral, which is created from the Golden Ratio of the Fibonacci Sequence.  This ratio, and therefore this perfect spiral shape, is found throughout the natural world in the shape of galaxies, DNA, conch shells, etc. and is considered by many scholars to represent the inherent mathematical nature of the world.  When considering this evidence and attempting to relate it to “A Last Time for Everything,” one may interpret this motif as a remark of the inherent baseness and the lustful humanity displayed by the principle characters.  Æon is seen to set aside technology, which is usually her chosen weapon, and instead arm herself with nature, that is, the natural impulses that are a result of Trevor’s lust, to gain her the ultimate victory of Trevor’s despair.  Through an unfortunate set of events, Æon’s own humanity gets in the way of accomplishing her missions as she originally intended it.  The heartbeat that is heard during the episode’s more intense sexual moments seems to be a herald of humanity coming through that has been denied these two characters.  This episode’s theme speaks of naturality and humanity being the downfall of two opposing sexual beings.


Trevor’s widow’s peak can be seen as the most oppressive phallic symbol of the episode.  The jagged edges of his hairline stand for both his jagged personality and his desire to hurt the woman that he also wishes to bed; such a jagged and pine tree-like phallus would certainly hurt a woman in a very physical and emotional way, which mirrors Trevor’s wishes for Æon.  When Trevor’s face becomes enrages and fierce, the hairline swells in a very sexual way and the sharp edges become even more violent.  This pairing of sex and female genital mutilation is symbolic of Trevor’s subconscious response to and defense against Æon, who’s predominant weapon against Trevor is her sexuality, and who seems to exploit one of his few weaknesses.


These symbols seem to be a main avenue of communication from the minds behind Æon Flux and the audience.  Special attention should be payed to these intelligently placed symbols if the themes of the episode are to be successfully conveyed.

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