Who isn’t excited to see Kate Beckinsale return as the sexy Selene in the upcoming Underworld Awakening? For fans, her return is about as highly anticipated as a death-sentence ruling for a child molester. Her absence from Rise of the Lycans was part of the reason I had little interest in seeing the movie. Then, of course, I saw it and thought it was amazing. As you undoubtedly already know, it’s an origin story centering on the romance between Lucian (Michael Sheen), the first werewolf with the ability to transform between human and monster forms, and Sonja (Rhona Mitra), daughter of Viktor (Bill Nighy), elder vampire.
Basically, as with the previous two films in the franchise, we have feuding “families” and a love story that, for all intents and purposes, mirrors Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette. We all knew that before, hopefully, but there’s more to Rise of the Lycans than just a Shakespearean “adaptation.”
Since this is an older movie, this is less of a review than it is an analysis and, hopefully, a conversation motivator.
Upon first watching Rise of the Lycans, I immediately drew the conclusion that Lucian was a Christ figure. I based this mostly on his appearance and how it resembled the commonly accepted likeness of Jesus: scruffy beard, dressed in ragged cloth (only thing missing were the sandals). Also, Lucian’s whipping with that vicious whip with the intimidating blades at its tips reminded me of the pre-crucifixion scourging of Christ as ordered by Pontius Pilate.
Any theologians out there will have to forgive any inaccuracies that I may include herein.
Lucian also belonged to the slave class, made to serve the ruling class led by Viktor, and almost seemed to suffer from Stockholm syndrome. Viktor seemed to have taken on a father-figure role for him, perhaps growing too attached to this particular lycan and even going to lengths to defend Lucian, which weakened him in the eyes of the other vampires. Viktor, in this sense, has become God in heaven with a “son” whom he wants his servants to respect. And when Lucian frees the lycans, he becomes the savior and again becomes the Christ figure.
Somehow, however, the Lucian character becomes a blurred representation of Christ and Satan. On a superficial level, Lucian’s name is an awful lot like Lucifer, which means light, and unlike the vampires, the lycans can walk about while the sun is out. Does this fact mean that werewolves are the children of God in this world of lycan versus vampire?
As you may or may not know, Lucifer was an angel, and not just any old angel; he was God’s right-hand man. He was God’s favorite, but fell from grace when he refused to kneel before the newcomer, i.e., Christ. Lucian’s similar fall from grace was foreshadowed when one of Viktor’s henchmen, actually he was more akin to a hooded executioner, said to Lucian something along the lines of “I’ll be there when you’re no longer his favorite.” Then, of course, he fell from grace, became a savior, and raised an army, which is similar to what Satan did. When Satan fell from heaven, he persuaded some angels to join him and raised an army of his own, which went on to fight a war in heaven.
The story of Satan’s fall from heaven is certainly derivative of the Bible, but in Rise of the Lycans it might be more derivative of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. Milton’s poem unintentionally elicits sympathy for the devil from its readers, in the same way that viewers of Rise of the Lycans sympathize with Lucian. It’s that whole suppressed slave thing.
I’m certainly not trying to be blasphemous here; I’m simply presenting a few observations that I made. If you’d like to comment, please start a discussion below (I’ll gladly reply as best as I can).
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Trailer
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
23 January 2009
Rhona Mitra, Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Steven Mackintosh, Kevin Grevioux, Leighton Cardno, Alex Carroll, Mark Mitchinson, and Tania Nolan