In The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, New York City has been given an in-depth makeover that’s literally as deep as hell.
Based on the first novel in the series by Cassandra Clare, the movie, set in modern times and directed by Harald Zwart, takes us to a Hogwarts-like realm smack in the middle of this metropolis. There, a dwindling number of Shadowhunters pursue and eradicate demons. In secretive Plutonian fashion, the edifice they inhabit is hidden from the eyes of mortals. The earthlings are referred to as mundanes, whose bodies demons like to invade.
As is typical in good vs. evil epics, other big archetypal energies come into play. Part of the mix involves Uranus, whose revolutionary zeal fuels combatants on both sides. And, back to Pluto, the lust for complete control of the enterprise is always in the forefront.
However, when dealing with subtle energies and themes of the transcendent, as this movie does, Neptune – which oversees deceit, self-sacrifice and seduction – makes its mark. And the heroine, Clary – her name means “clear,” which is not how the new world into which she’s thrust operates – is no longer able to take anyone at face value.
Clary (Lily Collins) is a normal teen whom we first meet hanging with a close but Platonic male friend Simon (Robert Sheehan), who’s obviously sweet on her. Before the pair heads out to a club, her mother Jocelyn (Lena Headley) notices, with alarm, that Clary has been sketching what looks like a rune, and voices her panic to her boyfriend Luke (Aidan Turner). Their worries, which aren’t made specific at that moment, are validated when Clary later witnesses a killing that only she can see.
As the narrative progresses, Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) saves the life of Clary who, in short order, realizes the critical importance of the rune she’s been drawing, discovers the Downworld inhabited by the Shadowhunters (Jace is one of them), a portal, the power behind a magical cup that’s pivotal to wiping out the demons, and a villain, Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). But the coveted cup is missing. So is Jocelyn. Luke is nowhere to be found. And Clary – she’s also “sage” like the herb – somehow has to save the universe.
Central to the story is the veiled but powerful reference to the mythical river Lethe, one of the rivers of Hades, which is often referred to as the River of Forgetfulness. With all its Neptunian, fuzzed-out connotations, Lethe streamed around the cave of Hypnos, which itself symbolizes oblivion and altered states. Jocelyn, who has her own magical powers, has kept Clary’s heritage in the dark – and sleeping – until now. Time for a true-identity check.
Astrology Film Rating: ♅♆♇ (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)