My Mom enjoys a certain amount of notoriety in her and my Dad’s house for a conversation she had with a few of her children. Several years ago when Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was the new popular movie on DVD, a few of my siblings wanted to watch it at home. My Mother rejected the idea stating, “it’s just two hours of violence!” To which my brother quickly replied, “no Mom, this is the extended edition… its four hours of violence!” I don’t think my Mother liked it, but either the humor won her over, or my siblings were old enough at the time, that she wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it.
You can imagine my surprise when I heard that my Mother “liked” Clash of the Titans. Based on the trailers, I’d assumed it was a film long on action and special effects, and short on plot or character development. But after getting my Mom’s opinion (2nd hand), I just had to see this film. So I reserved it at a local Redbox the day it released, and gave it a watch.
And I was right… mostly. It was long on special effects and action, but surprisingly not so short on plot. All that aside, and at the risk of sounding like a real symbolism geek, the following is why I really quite enjoyed it, and am writing about a movie on a blog called Sacred Symbolic. Warning: spoilers ahead. Go watch it if you haven’t already, before reading this.
Because the true Church of Jesus Christ has been on the earth (with at least one exception) since Adam, and since Christ is the most important part of his church, it stands to reason that when a people strays from the truth, many shadows or reflections of Christ remain in their religious beliefs and mythologies. Direct parallels to Christ aren’t the only thing we’ll find, but they’re often most prevalent. We’re told in the Book of Abraham that one of the early Pharaohs openly copied the Melchizedek Priesthood teachings & organization, even though he had no authority, because it was not passed on to him through Noah:
Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood. (Abr. 1:26, emphasis added)
Having studied Ancient Greece some (though not much spent on mythology), I wasn’t surprised to find Messianic parallels in the story of Perseus. I was however, amazed at how many came through in this modern, Hollywood telling of the story of Perseus. Here are some of the parallels I saw in the movie itself.
- There was a war in Heaven. The looser, Hades, is cast down to rule the underworld, but has power on earth. Hades gains power from the fears of humans.
- A mortal woman becomes pregnant, but not by her husband, rather the child is the son of Zeus, the God of Heaven. Perseus, the child, as a result is half-mortal, half-immortal.
- Perseus is raised by a mortal father who teaches him that he is special.
- Perseus learns that he is the only one capable of saving humankind from the death and captivity that Hades will inflict upon them.
- Perseus accepts all who will follow him in his quest, in spite of traditional biases and boundaries.
- A woman is one of Perseus’ most faithful followers and believers.
- Perseus is tempted to abandon his quest several times, but resists temptations and continues on.
- Many people are ungrateful and unwilling to recognize Perseus as their savior, and even begin to worship Hades.
- Perseus uses a token, given him by his father, to unlock the gates of the underworld.
- Perseus visits the underworld after nearly dying. There he obtains the key to defeat Hades and save mankind.
- Perseus wins the battle, conquering death (the kraken) and hell (the underworld/Hades/Medusa).
- Perseus commits protect men from Hades when he gains power again.
It seems like there was one or two more, but I’ve forgotten them. Does reading these and seeing the movie help you think about Christ’s story in any new ways? Did anyone notice any other parallels that I missed? Please tell us about them, or any other thoughts you have, in the comments below.
Call me clueless, but I'm not remembering where it says Christ receives a key from his Father and unlocks the gates of hell. I'm probably just having a memory lapse because I haven't come across that lately, but could you give us a reference for that connection? Thanks!
1 Peter 3:18–20 tells us that Christ visited what we often call "spirit prison" during the 3 days his mortal body lie in the tomb.
D&C 138:27–35 further expounds that, explaining that Christ didn't do the preaching, but rather organized missionary work so that the gospel would be preached in "spirit prison." So that those people could accept the gospel and the ordinances the living had performed vicariously for them.
I've not seen the movie, but your analysis of mythological tradition is spot on … but maybe not for the reasons you think. In order to understand the symbolism of any ancient culture, including the Hebrew or Israelite, you must first master the cosmological history of the Earth. Why? Because that's where all cultural imagery comes from – including biblical imagery. This was a truth Joseph Smith mastered and sought to restore to Mormonism, a truth long ago forgotten by mainstream Christianity. That's why modern revelation and our temples are littered with cosmic or astral imagery: stars, planets, moons, suns and constellations. Joseph restored that cosmological element in the Restored Gospel, a concept that presently eludes the majority of Mormons, sadly. But you've swerved into one of the primary truths from the past. I urge you to continue your study in this regard.
Bro. Larson, Thank you for your comment. I would like to learn more about this. Cosmological things are prevalent in much of ancient and LDS tradition. I hope to take some time to study your theories on it all, in the near future.
That being said, when you make statements like "maybe not for the reasons you think," it tends to make people less likely to listen, in spite of the post on your blog that complains of nobody listening. My "reasons," as stated in the post, are that Jesus Christ is the single most important figure and doctrine in the world (and upon countless worlds). Because of that, ancient cultures, religions, and mythologies often contain reflections or distorted traditions of Him. Now whether they were reminded of those traditions because of something they saw in the Heavens, that we can no longer see, I don't know. But your statement makes it sound as if the "cosmological history of the Earth" and understanding it, were more important than Jesus and understanding him. These archetypal shadows remain because of His importance, period. Your blog seems to show this attitude as well. A quick analysis on the front page, as well as the next, shows that neither contains the words "Jesus" or "Christ," or "Jesus Christ" in the top 100 keywords (based on single or double word keyword). A direct word search shows there are a few references, but more are merely part of other things such as "The Church of Jesus Christ" or "Christendom" than actual references to Christ. I'm not criticizing, suggesting this makes your message untrue, nor do I want to debate you. I consider myself a seeker of truth, and am always willing to hear theory's and ideas that are new to me. I'm just suggesting that you may want to consider your approach. I was and still am interested, however, I find myself more hesitant after reading your comment.
The other problem is that your comment is self-contradicting. You first say that I'm spot-on, then later say the only way I could be spot-on, is if I understand your "cosmological history of the Earth" theory, which I don't. I understand your intention, and appreciate the compliment. But again, you may want to consider your approach. Don't make it too exclusive and make sure that Christ remains at the center of all teaching and learning. Thanks again.
Yes I have watched that movie hundreds of times but only noticed the similarities This last time like them both being a child of a God and a Human woman. But then was put of when he was pulled from the water as s baby and raised by another family like Moses but yes I did pick up on the similarities. I just attributed it to the fact that things were word to mouth so story would lose and gain thing depending on who was telling the story but it does make me want to keep digging to learn more
Also Perseus defeating Hades marks the end of sacrifices of humans.