The movie Amulet is a morality tale behind the rest of the morality tales. It is a reckoning of assumed moral freedom and licentiousness.
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I’m a little giddy every time I find a movie that causes me to exclaim an extended hour long, “Wait…. WAHHHHHHHHT???????” I just adore being disoriented, and having to work to sort out the pieces of a movie puzzle. You may not. That’s fine. I now think less of you. But that is 100% okay. Really. But when Hollywood directors talk down to me I just want to Swedish Chef the projector with a massive meat knife. But hey…it takes a lot of different in this world to make it go round. So you do you… but please, for the love of all that is good and holy, please do it way way over there —-> But today I’m totally stoked to talk to those of you that are remaining about that Amulet movie ending decoded and explained. Because I’m thinking we are all going to need as much help as we are able to get unpacking this sucker. So excited. Let’s get to it.
But, as always – this post isn’t a review to tell you whether or not you should watch it. I’m assuming you already have. We’ll break it down to its commensurate parts, we’ll put it back together again, and then we’ll play out some theories in order to figure out what might possibly be going on here. OK? Sure, but that means you have to have seen it first. So, please head on ever to Amazon, iTunes, Fandango, or any of all the big rental streaming providers. No go. Shew. Go away. Watch it. And take your seat belt with you. Because, I’m not going to be held responsible for you when you are ejected from this particular vehicle.
I mean, I wouldn’t have watched that if I were you. But it’s your own dumb fault for not trusting me – FOR ONCE. Seriously, deKev nice recommendation. Really enjoyed this one. But I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until I read a review comparing Amulet to A Dark Song that I went all in. And boy, am I glad I did. So much to talk about here. Why is it that horror/thriller flicks are the ones that are just destroying it philosophically, morally, and theologically these days? I wish I could recommend more movies like this one to my teens. But this is way way way over the top for most people, let alone for teens! Over on my survey questionnaire (which I’m still open for responses btw) I got a question about my recommending some more teen friendly fare and I would absolutely love to be able to do that. I literally just recommended Napoleon Dynamite to my kids for our family movie night (which we put titles in a hat for) and about got booed out of the state. (WHATTT? ). But I want mindjob concentrate… I want to mainline mental stimulant and come away with my brain hurting at the end. Sure, we could talk about Chariots of Fire here. Or the Nazi policies in the Sound of Music. But if I can instead talk about a teen neutering child rapists as retributions for their crimes, um, yeah… that pushes the question. That is a conversation I want to have. BUT! If you guys find some teen films that I can write up in a list of movies that are OK for teens? That’d be a huge help. Meanwhile….
Amulet Movie Walkthrough
This movie runs two parallel timelines all out of order and wonky. So in order to get the gist of really what happens I’m going to order my walk through chronologically. Trust me, it’ll be easier this way.
Thread 1 – War Crimes – So we open the movie in the woods with Tomaz (played by Alec Secareanu). Eventually we learn he’s in a war of some sort. But it takes a bit to really orient ourselves. We learn that because his mother was an important dentist, his post in the military was to guard some random checkpoint in the middle of the woods. He lives nearby. He spends most of his day reading his book, and minding his own business. But when a woman, Miriam (played by Angeliki Papoulia), comes sprinting towards him out of the woods…he isn’t exactly certain what to do next. If she crosses the border, she’ll certainly be killed. If she goes back, she’ll be killed. So he offers her refuge in his little shack of a home there in the woods. Awwww. Tomaz is a sweetheart! Finally, a male who looks out for the weaker gender. Phew. </sarcasm>
Over time, Tomaz and Miriam settle into something of a routine, if that is possible. They co-habitat in relatively easy fashion. They share food. He hides her when others arrive at his shelter. But they generally don’t necessarily interact. Tomaz is just making certain Miriam is safe. Otherwise, everything else is the same for him. She does her thing, he does his. See? Simple. Nothing to worry about here folks. Nothing at all. But then there were subtle hints that all might not be aright in the World o’ Tomaz. He tells Miriam that he noticed her in the town, did she notice him? Nope. No she did not. And why? Because, duh, she was married, and busy, and had to get her job done and get back to her daughter – the one thing in the world that means everything to her. I mean, she allowed her husband to take her daughter, and leave his wife behind because she meant so much to her. Right? Why would she be noticing some military guy in town? Yeah, your spidey senses should most definitely be going off right about now.
When Miriam lets Tomaz know – because heck, he’s so nice, OF COURSE she’s going to tell him – that she is so thankful for his abundant hospitality, but she is going to be taking her leave now. OK? That it’s time for her to make a go of it – and try to cross the border come hell or high water. OK? Great. So, uhm… a bill of services maybe? Or maybe a high five? Great. Tomaz’s response? “Do not run.”
And Tomaz chases her through the forest. Now, her number one fear isn’t some abstract two-sided military conflict. It’s not land mines or border patrols. Her practical reality is that the thing she needs to most worry about is her host. I mean, if you know anything about the moral rules of sanctuary, and older customs, you know that when you give sanctuary to someone, you are expected to die in your guest’s stead. (Sodom and Gomorrah anyone? Lot’s offering of his daughters in protection of the guests in his home? Sorry, Sodom and Gomorrah is a MASSIVE MASSIVE rabbit trail. Let’s all just tip toe away… okay? Can we all just agree, back slowly away from this particular cooked grenade. Great.) But instead, he chases her through the woods…overtakes her…and rapes her there in the woods. Yeah. Cause that is just Flipping-Fantastic Tomaz. Gah. NOW, we can head on over to thread two – now that we aren’t going in blind.
Thread 2 – Theological Crimes – Jump to Tomaz, homeless in London. He’s picking up odd jobs that are really unsafe. He looks out for others, he seems to be kind. (Oh, we see you now Mr. Tomaz – you aren’t hiding behind your chronological-disorder!) Eventually he stumble across a nun – Sister Claire – who happens to be played by Imelda Staunton (who you probably know from the Harry Potter movies, and the Downton Abbey series). But we are already on to you missy, and you know why? Because the movie poster had her wearing some fairly hideous bat wings behind her habit. Yeah, we know you aren’t the thing you are saying you are. But that’s okay, because neither is Tomaz.
Sister Claire brings Tomaz to a home, where she settles him in with Magda (played by Carla Juri, who was AWESOME in Blade Runner 2049 as Dr. Ana Stelline). We learn that in this downtrodden house, Magda is taking care of her mother – who isn’t doing well at all. Nope. Huh-uh. Basically she spends her days writhing in the attic. And for her daily activities, she attempts to kill anyone that comes close. Heck, even herself, most specifically by trying to grab the wall’s electrical wiring. But Magda, in spite of all this, really is doing her best to try and take care of her.
Tomaz is slowly (though not the sharpest tool in the shed) beginning to catch on that everything here isn’t quite what it seems. Hrmmm. No electricity. The building is moldy, and near collapse. (Dude, serious props and shout out to the team that did the set design for this movie! Oh my gosh. The amount of work necessary in order to pull this house’s level decrepitude off? Unbelievable. Sofia Stocco – we are looking at you! I even reached out to her to see if she’d be open to an interview. We will see. I’d be tickled pink if she agreed to it. When I told my son about my excitement in possibly getting a chance to talk to her, he was a little confused. I was like, chief, one of my favorite interviews of all time was chatting with the head of photography on the movie Victoria. I just love hearing from the people that actually make movie magic happen. Sure, actors are cool. But give me a screenplay writer? An artist? Someone that gets their hands dirty? And I’m over the moon to talk to them. But I’m also the guy that became best friends with the towel guy at my hotel in Cancun. So who knows.) Eventually – overtime – Tomaz realizes that “mother” is actually not of this world. But not before he takes Magda out dancing, and tries to give her something of a break.
The Theology of Amulet
“Before your god…the ancients didn’t believe you could forgive yourself. It wasn’t yours to give.”
After Tomaz and Magda’s night out on the town dancing, Tomaz heads to Sister Claire to talk about his situation. (It’s about this same time that we begin realizing that Tomaz hurt Miriam back before escaping to England. And is feeling guilty.) But he’s obviously feeling the need for forgiveness for what he did to Miriam.
Let’s stop and think about this quote of Tomaz’s for a second. And let’s read between the lines as he says them: “Before your God – the advent of Christ – the ancient gods, the BC gods… the Dionysuses, the Zarathustras, Odysseuses, …. they didn’t believe that one could forgive yourself.” Nope. That isn’t even close to true. First, the Judeo-Christian view is that Christ first coming was a continuation of His creation of the world and everything in the world. So, there aren’t gods that predate Christ. The fact that Jews bail on Christ doesn’t mean that Christ bailed on his lineage through the Hebrew God. Secondly… Christ literally never ever said that you could forgive yourself. It wasn’t a plank in his holistic theological system. I mean, even a kindergartner Catholic school student could tell you this. Why would Christ die for our sins if you could just go ahead and forgive yourself? Gah. So annoying.
The larger point though is that Tomaz believes he needs to figure out how to forgive himself. And this movie tree-shreds that idea…and then him. Which, as a Christian, I am 100% okay with. If he were to appeal to a God that paid for his sins, and pursue forgiveness? Yeah, then… that’s between him and his Creator. But as it stands, we learn that Tomaz is in no position to ask for forgiveness. He is in no position to repent and change his behavior. Wait, how do you know? Well, because of what happens next in the story. Let’s get to that, shall we?
Well, when Tomaz gets to watch firsthand as Mother gives birth to an albino bat/demon/hellspawn, he starts to realize that Mother isn’t all that he thought she was cracked up to be. “You see, I have to stomp on them, they are born with teeth.” Magda says. And Tomaz learns that Magda is there to keep the demon hellspawn company. After all, demons need to be cared for. But when Tomaz decides he wants to “save” Magda from the demon we understand that Magda can’t just walk away. The demon won’t have it. It will kill Magda before it let’s her free. So Tomaz – in a fit of altruism – decides that he will kill Mother and set her free. But Tomaz is doing this solely to set himself free from the chains of his guilty past. “I thought if I could free you I’d have a right to be happy again.” And then we watch as Tomaz chases Miriam down and rapes her. Simultaneously, in the future, he sleeps with Magda, and she tells him that he slept like a baby. That he must have forgiven himself after all. Which makes the hammer falling after the fact all the more delicious. Forgive yourself all you’d like – this movie says… you’ll still be tormented by the evils you have done.
When Tomaz wakes up, he is in a ghastly tub, and vomiting putrescence. Tomaz stumbles over to the nun who isn’t a nun anymore. “Why is this happening to me?” “I think you know the answer to that.” And the two discuss candidates for keeping him comfortable in the house, as Magda had done for Mother. And we see Tomaz’s real heart when he says that he wants Magda to do the job even though she had “already served her time.” So Tomaz kills mother, and instead of setting Magda free, he commits her to servitude at his side until she dies from her service. And as the movie ends, he wanders into a random room of the house where he finds an enormous shell. And when he crawls into the shell he sees Miriam as the Amulet. The end.
WHAT, WHAT THE…??!?
First – the Amulet: The amulet draws Tomaz to it in the woods, as we open up the film. He just randomly starts digging and finds it. Which, sort of indicates, that Tomaz is sort of magnetically called to this thing. And we are also aware that Tomaz’s soul is evil, and we can also assume that there is some sort of affinity between the two things.
Second – Sister Claire: Who is she? At first, she has all the kindness, the appearances, of a spiritual benefactor. But later on in the movie, she just dumps all the pretenses, and comes off as a normal woman who is extraordinarily horrible. Is she a demon as well? Hrm. I don’t know. She obviously has powers over evil, and carries herself like she is spiritually enabled. I mean, Tomaz’s shenanigans don’t bother her any. And he finds himself incapable of countering her when she basically shackles him as a rotting demon for the rest of his life. Or, maybe it could be argued that he does this to himself. Regardless, she is in on this somehow. Definitely. Could she be walking the streets and picking up putrific soul after putrific soul and housing them in demonic halfway houses all around the city? Yeah! I really think she might be doing just that.
Third – The Demon: We learn when Tomaz goes up to the attic to kill Mother, that a) Mother isn’t a woman. Instead it’s a man. b) We learn that this man once killed his wife, and five of his children, in order to marry his daughter. Christopher General was his name and he was the one that owned the house where Magda has been living.
Fourth – The Shell: Earlier in the film, Tomaz discovers the shell in the ceiling when he is attempting to help renovate the place. And he tells Magda that in days of yore, people would prominently display shells as a warning of the place’s evil. What evil? The evil of Christopher General’s and also Tomaz’s evil.
Fifth – Magda: This isn’t said in the movie, but is Magda the child bride of Christopher General? It makes sense to me. But her name. Does the name Magda seem familiar or significant? Mary Magdalene maybe? She was mentioned 12 different times in the Gospels (more than many of the disciples – she was important.) She was a woman of resources. But, more importantly, she had been demon possessed by seven demons (Luke 8:1-3, & Mark 16:9). Hrm. Coincidence? Here? Nope. Is Magda afflicted by demons? Yup. Two that we know of. Christopher General, and Tomaz. Not seven. But two isn’t zero either. Magda is a picture of Mary Magdalene, a woman who was chained by spiritual bonds, and then freed, and Magda too was chained by spiritual bonds, and also freed.
Sixth – The Second Amulet: at the end of the movie we learn that Miriam is the Amulet inside the shell. Eh? Miriam had assumed that the amulet would keep her safe. That Tomaz too would keep her safe. That there in the woods she had finally found sanctuary. But when Tomaz turns on her, we learn that the amulet is actually an artifact of dark power. That this amulet is actually comes wrapped in evil portent. And now, Miriam is Tomaz’s amulet. An artifact that comes wrapped in evil portent. He will finally get his own. And it is the evil of what he did to Miriam that will bake him from the inside out, and expose his true horrific nature.
I usually avoid reading other’s thoughts when trying to uncover their true meaning – but this time I went looking for others who might have an idea of where this movie was going. And I literally just laughed out loud at what everyone else was saying about this thing. Where other’s get this movie wrong is in the fact that they see Magda as the true evil of this movie. Or of Miriam as evil. What? TOMAZ! I MEAN HE WANTED FORGIVENESS! SO DUH!
No. That’s just trash.
Look, here is the real meaning of this film. Amulet uncovers male sexual predators – or just male predators in general (though the two examples we have here of Christopher General (murderer/child rapist) and Tomaz (rapist) are sexual predators) for what they really are. It also serves as an indictment on a society that would let them off the hook. BUT THEY ARE SORRY, society would say (and other reviewers would say). So, they should be forgiven. And this movie cries bollocks (look, in America, bollocks isn’t a swear word, so just calm down) to those claims. These men don’t want forgiveness. They hate that they were caught. They hate that they feel guilty. But that isn’t the same as truly being remorseful. And the movie is calling us all out on our enabling ways, and it says, yeah, we are done with that.
Seriously, look seriously at Tomaz’s life. He rapes a woman, then flees the war to the anonymity of city life. And it is there that he is found by a “saint” who directs him to his real life. A life of darkness. Of pain. And eternal torment. A life without forgiveness, not because forgiveness isn’t knowable, but because he wasn’t sorry. Given the chance, he re-chains Magda all over again. Is this someone that really loves another human? No. If he had loved her, he would have said, run for it. I will die miserable. I’m so sorry, and I don’t want you anywhere near this horrifying life.
As the movie ends we watch as Magda takes the Amulet, finds Miriam, and gives it back to her. This is symbolic that the power that Tomaz once had over her is gone. Dead. And we see that she was well on her way already, in that she had been reunited with her daughter. She had a better life going for her than Tomaz did in the city. And for Magda, Magda is showing that she won’t be tormented by the evilness of Tomaz even though he has done his best to ruin her. Yup. I think I nailed this one. And its tricky, because it is one of the weirdest a most convoluted movies I’ve seen in a long time. But I think that is what this movie is doing. Your thoughts?