Last night I watched two Disney movies, National Treasure and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, both with Nicholas Cage, and I was immediately struck with an observation that had not occurred to me before: these were alchemical movies. The observation was brought on by a curious scene in National Treasure towards the very end, when Cage and actors Justin Bartha and John Voigt find the "treasure" room.
The movie is a typical "treasure hunt" yarn... with a twist, the twist in this case being that Cage & Co. go off searching for hidden Templar treasure hidden somewhere in the USA by following a series ofintricate clues left by Freemasons. This in itself is an indicator that the Disney staff did their homework, for there are those who argue that the Sinclair family in Scotland did indeed take some of the Templar treasure and hide it in the new world. Some even argue that Franklin Roosevelt - himself a Mason - went in search for it prior to becoming President.
And Disney is, of course, no stranger to the theme of magic, for the whole point of "the Magic Kingdom" was "imagineering," as Walt himself called it: the use of advanced engineering to achieve the effects of magic.
But even with all this background, the scene in the treasure room is, to say the least, odd. Indeed, the scene is so odd that it forms no essential part of the storyline at all, and would, in my opinion, have ended up being editted out under normal circumstances, for there is nothing leading up to it, nor away from it. It is just there, without preliminaries, without explanation.
The scene occurs when Cage & Co. have entered the fabulous treasure room and discovered, among other things, that it contains scrolls from the lost Library of Alexandria... in other words, it contains ancient lost wisdom. Well, that's predictable enough,and it fits the storyline. But then comes the scene, with Justin Bartha.
Finding a tall, blue-green Egyptian statue of a man, Bartha says, in effect, "a tall blue-grean man with a strange goatee. I'm guessing that's significant." And then, even more inexplicably, Bartha smiles and hugs the statue, as a child would hug a parent. I have to admit, the first time I saw this scene it disturbed me, and the feeling has never left me. As I said, there is no preparation for it in the storyline, it adds nothing to the plot, and would under normal circumstances have made the director's chopping block. There is nothing leading away from it, and there is no further explanation.
Someone, therefore, wanted the scene to be in the movie. The question is, why?
I think the answer may lie in alchemy, in the goal to implant a "meme", a "minimum unit of meaning," into the public consciousness, and thereby, to effect a form of magic. Magic is, after all, essentially the bending of another's will to one's own. It is, in its truest form, social engineering, the transformation of consciousness, and that, after all, is the goal of esoteric alchemy. Merely to leave the movie-going audience guessing as to the meaning of the scene is itself already a powerful form of social transformation and propaganda.
My own personal guess as to the meaning intended by the otherwise unnecessary scene is that someone in the Disney staff was saying "look to Egypt." But the symbolism of the scene runs much deeper. Blue and green had, of course, certain specific symbolic meanings within Egyptian lore. The size of the statue - dwarfing Bartha - also suggests something else: giants, the ancient race spoken of so often in ancient texts, including the Bible. It was, as most of us know, allegedly a hybrid race, the chimerical offspring of "the gods" and humans. There is even a Mesopotamian reference, though this may be stretching things, and that is once again symbolized by the blue-green color of the statue, and Bartha's comment, "I'm guessing that's significant."
In Babylonian and Sumerian mythology, civilization was taught to mankind by a chimerical being called Oannes, half fish, half man. The blue-green color might be suggesting a Mesopotamian connection.
In any case, the real lesson here is that the symbolism was carefully chosen, the unnecessary scene was carefully plopped into the climax of a movie where it deliberately hovers in the consciousness of the movie-goer, working its effect, as it did on me, through the symboism employed.
This alchemical "meming" is much more overt in Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, who in this case is played by actor Jay Baruchel to Cage's "Balthasar," the master magician and adept. The scene that lodged in my mind, again, was a short exchange of dialogue that otherwise was not entirely necessary to the storyline. Someone wanted to communicate information, not advance the story.
The short exchange begins as Baruchel and Cage are hurtling down a street in Manhattan. Baruchel, who has thus far been feted to awesome displays of mind-boggling magic between Cage and his nemesis (played by Alfred Molina), asks Cage whether all the awesome displays are magic, or science. Now, it is worth mentioning at this point, that Baruchel, the young apprentice, is a physics student whose project just happens to involve - you guessed it - Tesla coils.
That may seem the wildest sort of connection, but stop and consider: Tesla himself made no secret of the fact that he received his inspiration for alternating current in a vision in which he saw the generator apparatus to produce it. Tesla, in other words, was as much a mystic as an engineer and physicist.
In response to Baruchel's question if it is magic, or science (I think I'm getting the order correct), Cage responds "Yes, and yes." In other words, it's some peculiar blend of both. Then, Cage goes on to "explain" that the reason sorcerers are able to do what they do is because they use more than the normal 10% of the brain that the rest of us use. They use all the brain, implying that old doctrine "mind over matter" might indeed be true if we could but access all of our mental potential.
This too, as I have suggested in my books, is an alchemical doctrine, for the physical medium - at least insofar as alchemy views it - is an nformation-creating medium, par excellence (q.v. my The Giza Death Star Destroyed; The Philosophers' Stone). As such, there is a direct connection between consciousness, and the medium, a connection that modern physics is only just beginning to explore.
So, the bottom line, as far as I'm concerned, is that while these are enjoyable movies, pure fun and entertainment, they are also subtle messages, and alchemical ones to boot.