When I started focusing on movies, and talking to you about the technicolor brilliance available to us all, I only did it for one reason. I did it to point out this movie. I did it to bring to you Elizabeth Harvest. Like, years of blogging and compiling all of you as readers? Yup, I did all of that prep work just for this one movie. (Ok, not just this movie. It’s a hyperbolic metaphor… but you get my point.) I started this THiNC. thing solely to bring magic like this movie to you. And of the movies I’ve brought to you the last year? There’s been less than a handful of movies that perfectly fit on the THiNC. X-Y graph of goodness and light. (For those of you that are attentively paying attention here, Goodness is the X axis. Light is the Y axis. Ok? If we have any data scientists amongst us, I would love help building an app to pull this data and graph the hundreds of movies on the X-Y Goodness and Light THiNC. graph. And yes, this began as a long winded joke, but you know what? I think that the world needs this graph. Seriously. Add in a bubble size value equated to number of comments on the post in order to show how conversable the movie is? And voila! The perfect infographic!)
What is this out of the blue movie? Where did this thing come from? Well, Chris T. kudos to you mate. But literally I haven’t heard a single word about this film at all. Zilch. Basically it’s an epic mindjob of a movie, cut from the same cloth as Ex Machina. Just thought of three other examples, but all three would have given way way too much away for those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet. Speaking of which, this discussion of the movie is a deep dive, no holds barred, spoiler-filled excursion into the underbelly of Elizabeth Harvest. Please avail yourself of the nearby link to watch this movie before continuing on further. If you are still not sold yet (what, my exuberance alone didn’t sell you? pshaw!) basically the movie follows Elizabeth and her new husband home to their new stunning home. But everything is not as it seems. Actually… NOTHING, is as it seems. Like, literally all of it. So, yeah, can’t really say much more than that… here is a trailer for you. But if I were you? (And I am decidedly not.) I’d totally skip this trailer and go in cold. Just TRUST ME FOR ONCE! gah. You people infuriate me.
Alright, with that out of the way. We can assume that the non-viewers have gone. Right? Great. Then let’s away shall we? Brilliant.
Elizabeth Harvest Walk Through
As I was saying earlier. The movie kicks off with the loveliest and most universal of scenes. A man, bringing his newly married bride to his home… carrying her across the threshold. Introducing her to the servants. Showing her around the modern mansion. But in the walkthrough, Elizabeth (played by Abbey Lee of Mad Max: Fury Road, and the Dark Tower) is told by her new husband (played by Ciaran Hinds, of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) that the only thing that was decidedly off limits? Was a single door in the basement. Which, means, that will be the focus of this entire movie. Right? Right.
Well, it was actually surprising the speed with which Elizabeth went into the room. I mean, it was unlocked after all. And her idiotic husband went away for a couple days… right? So, OF COURSE she’s going into the room. And crack, goes our perspective of reality. Gone goes the normalacy veneer. Because, what Elizabeth discovers? Is a high tech science lab, and a drawer housing another copy of herself. Wait, WHAT?!? You heard me. There was an Elizabeth, with a breathing tube, housed in a scientific apparatus chamber to keep her alive. Right? So, our Elizabeth – this specific Elizabeth we started the movie with, (who I will now begin calling E4, for reasons I will explain later) is completely freaked out by what she finds. And, rightfully so! As just a member of the viewing audience I was like – oh Holy Night! – so this is where this thing is going!?
Well, soon enough, Henry, E4‘s husband comes back, finds out that she went into the FORBIDDEN ROOM, and ultimately? He kills her. With like a machete or something? Something terrible, and bloody anyway. And now we know the consequences of going in the forbidden door. It really is a forbidden room, right? And then we get one of the most fascinating quotes in the entire movie from Henry, “Patterns, once you can predict the way a person will act, you can control them.” What exactly is happening in this movie?!?
Elizabeth Harvest Six Weeks Later
And then we get a very familiar scene that we’ve seen before… we think. There is the car, and an Elizabeth, in a bridal gown. And there is Henry, carrying an Elizabeth across the threshold. Hrm. So, was that the copy of E4 that we saw in the drawer in the forbidden room? Is this E5 then? Apparently, right? Something like that has got to be happening I guess?
Well, Henry sets up the same scenario. We get the tour. We get the door lock’s and the explanation of the forbidden room. Etc. But this time, when E5 heads into the forbidden room, she inadvertently wakes E6. Who we will get to later, I promise. And when Henry comes back in order to kill his “new” wife, instead of her getting drugged, she stabs him in the back of the neck. And wham, just like that? Henry is dead. Now, forgive me for not remembering exactly, but this is only like 30 minutes into the movie? Something like that. Surprisingly early, and we’ve lost our good doctor already? I mean, he is our prime driver evil, isn’t he? Well, apparently not.
Well, when E5 kills Henry, she calls the police and they come out. But in the mean time, Henry’s son and lab assistant, Oliver, and Henry’s co-collaborator, Claire, explain that if E5 leaves, that they won’t be able to protect her. And voila, just like that E5 is complicit. So there we have E5 chatting with the police officer, who was on the take from Henry, and protecting him, is talking to E5 when Oliver, shoots the officer in the back. Boom. Out of the blue. Completely surprising. “Did I get him!?” (Because, oh, did I mention yet, that of course, he’s blind, due to past horrificness on his father’s part). And off they go with the second body in one day to the incinerator. About that time, Claire heads off to the hospital with chest pains. Right, so, a quick bodycount has us at 1 Elizabeth, a Henry, and a Detective Logan. We still aren’t 100% sure as to E1 through E3 but we can clear that up right now actually…
E1 through E3 Explained
After killing Henry, E5 begins to learn more and more about her origins, where her memories come from, and errata. How? Easy, Oliver, being blind, would like E5 to read through Claire’s diary to find out what Claire has thought of him. Or maybe it was just a ruse in order to force E5 to learn the “truth” about her past. But, regardless, as she reads, we, the audience learn the sordid tale of the Elizabeth Harvest.
20 years ago (+/-, I’m sort of unclear on how long ago this happened), Elizabeth married Henry, the Nobel laureate. But Elizabeth died in child birth due a rare genetic condition called Werner’s Syndrome. And so Henry, grief ridden, snagged Elizabeth’s DNA and generated 6 copies of Elizabeth Prime. (If you are keeping score at home, that means there are a total of SEVEN Elizabeths total. 7 isn’t an important number at all.) The child born was Oliver, and Oliver assisted his father in the lab, and with his work of recreating his wife, and Oliver’s mother.
When Claire joined, that was five years prior to the events we started with at the movie’s beginning. And at that point, only four Elizabeths remained at this point. Were the first two Elizabeths killed? Were they scientific failures? Well, if what we’ve been shown is any indication? Henry killed E1 & E2 – and possibly violently. We do know that E3 ran away, and Detective Logan brought her back, and Claire “convinced” the detective that Elizabeth was her niece. And with that, Henry begins bribing Logan to cover up what they are doing there. And after that incident, Henry suffocates E3. (Sure, he said it was an accident, but whatever.)
Is Oliver Really the Bad Guy of Elizabeth Harvest?
At first, when Oliver convinces E5 to stay, we sort of buy the fact that he can’t protect her, and that he’s looking out for this completely clueless and defenseless creation. And the ruse is that he wants to know what Claire thinks of him. But we learn quickly through the diary that that can’t be, because Claire is all twisted up with Henry. And by the way, Oliver is obsessed with Elizabeth (His sister? No, she’s sort of his mother? gah!). That’s abundantly clear in the way he cares for E6. But think about it. Sure, Henry is the homicidal maniac. But it’s Oliver that is isn’t allowing E5 to leave. It’s Oliver that killed a cop. And now, E5 wakes to find she’s chained to a pole in the bedroom. And then we learn that Oliver is blind because his father was jealous of the way in which Oliver looked at Elizabeth.
But then comes the shocking revelation of the movie. (How? More?) Claire realizes that Oliver is not Henry’s son. But rather, Oliver is Henry. Did you catch that? Because I rewound the movie when that revelation dropped. Yeah, craziness. Henry copied himself. Took a swab of his cheek, and then grew a little Henry in a petri dish, and nurtured himself back into creation all over again. And only later did he rename himself Oliver.
E5, still chained to the pole in the bedroom, manages to seduce Oliver and she then has the jump on Oliver. Only to have E6 walk in with the rifle and shoot Oliver. E5 books it, and desperately struggles to get out of the house, only to be shot by E6. And as she’s dying E5 whispers in E6‘s ear and tells her to read the journal. Which, she does. And when Claire returns back from the hospital, E6 hands the journal back to Claire, and then tells her to do something better with the house and the lab. And she walks away.
But What Is Elizabeth Harvest About?
One of the interesting things that confused me about the movie was the WHY. Why did Henry attempt it in the first place? What was he trying to achieve? What was his goal? And when he told Claire that he was trying to recreate the purity of that marriage honeymoon, and that perfect relationship it caught me a little off guard. Oh. The movie is all about lost youth. It’s all about the inevitability of time. And I even latched on to one key quote that Henry said, which was, “We are all, each of us, an eventual tragedy.” I mean! PERFECTION! We are! Each of us are headed to the great tree shredder in the sky, right? Except that is all bull crap. And here’s why…
Henry is a Nobel Laureate, right? We don’t know exactly why or how. But we can surmise in the field of cloning and a veritable cornucopia of complex biological topics. And when we hear about the tragedy of his wife’s death in child birth we all say, awwww. Just the worst. So yeah, he went off the deep end, did a horribly immoral thing by creating the six Elizabeths. But at the same time, he’s a mourning widower.
BUT HE WASN’T!
Here’s what really happened in the movie timeline of Elizabeth Harvest. The first thing was that Henry got his Nobel in some crazy amazing, and groundbreaking research. And feeling full of himself, he willingly chose to clone himself into his “son” Oliver. And then, fairly punch drunk on his power and god-like abilities, he decided to “marry” a young, impressionable, and beautiful woman. Whom, he killed soon after they were married. And then, he stole her DNA, and unhappy with the single-serve approach that he took with himself, decided to try a half dozen this time. And when his own creation rose up and killed the creator, he finally got what he deserved morally.
Final Thoughts on Elizabeth Harvest
After reading an interview with Sebastian Gutierrez, I realized that he had come up with the story from the European Bluebeard tale. Wherein a man marries a woman, and says to her, this entire castle is yours. You may go anywhere, do anything, but you may not enter this room here. And when she does? She finds his previous six wives who were all dead from having entered the room. Which, is a story I had heard before, but I literally did not connect Elizabeth Harvest back to this mythos. It just didn’t click.
But it is truly rare to find a movie that totally catches me completely off guard. Granted, I walked into this movie completely and totally unaware of what I was walking into. But it was a fantastic, Ex Machina type mind job of pretty epic proportions. And if I am right, and that is actually what happened in this movie, then this movie isn’t about the inevitability and tragedy of time. But rather it’s about the horrors implicit in wielding god-like powers on ungod-like endeavors. This movie is basically a modern retelling of Shelley’s Frankenstein with a twist. Or am I wrong on this front? You tell me.