IT Chapter Two – Cycles
The latter of the two-part feature film adaptation was released in cinemas on September 6th, 2019, almost exactly two years after the release of its forerunner on September 8th, 2017. Starring James McAvoy as Bill and Jessica Chastain as Beverly, with Bill Skarsgård taking on the role of Pennywise.
IT Chapter Two was a sequel to the 2017 IT, with the members of the Losers Club reassembling to finish off the eponymous creature that has returned to Derry, Maine.
Not coincidentally with ITs cycle, the first part, directed by Andy Muschietti and starring Bill Skarsgard as the evil clown, hit cinemas exactly 27 years after the debut of the first IT miniseries adaptation in 1990.
IT Chapter Two – Cross-references
Stephen King makes one of his iconic cameos in IT Chapter Two, as the owner of a small antique shop where Bill finds his old bike, Silver. At the end of their interaction, King ludicrously tells Bill Denbrough: „Hey, you’re the big writer”.
The movie IT Chapter Two is gilded with Easter Eggs and cross-references, as many of Stephen King’s adaptations are. A split second before our acquaintance with adult Ben Hanscom, we can witness a conference that he attends via video.
Just before seeing Ben, we see a glimpse of Brandon Crane, the actor who played Ben Hanscom at age 12 in the 1990 IT TV mini-series.
During Stanley Uris’ suicide, we can catch sight of the image of the blade that shifts in his memory into the image of the shard of glass they used as children to cut their palms when they carried out the blood oath. Then the image shifts to a reflection of the blood dripping on Beverly’s pillow as she sleeps.
Beverly Marsh is a fashion designer in Chicago who has predictively married a maniacal man named Tom Rogan, almost an offprint of her abusive father
Similarly, Eddie Kaspbrak, in spite of having taken residence in New York, away from Derry and obliterated Derry’s history, has married a hysterical codependent woman which is strikingly akin to his hypochondriac mother.
In the movie, Eddie’s wife is even played by the same woman impersonating his mother in the first movie.
IT Chapter Two – Paradoxes
The 27-year cycles are one of the eerie paradoxes in the movie. 27 is a mystical number customarily used to convey mysticism, spiritual awareness, unconditional love, tolerance and harmony, which is everything IT is not.
However, there is another hypothetical reference which states that 27% of the universe is made up of dark matter, which suggests a mysterious invisible force.
Another paradox that we come across in IT Chapter Two is the chanting „Turn light into dark”. Light and dark symbolism has been widely used throughout the ages in various literary pieces. Originating with The Bible, light has been used to convey something positive: hope, life-force, and vitality.
Darkness, on the other hand, was mostly bestowed to convey negativity: evil, death and the unexplored.
The antinomy of light versus darkness has been recurrent in portraying the concepts of good and evil. In The Bible, in Genesis, God creates light and calls it good, whereas in the New Testament, Jesus is described as the light of the world.
In IT Chapter Two, however, the lights are a symbol of evil, in the shape of the three circling Deadlights in Pennywise’s throat that help him blind his victims and make them lose consciousness.
IT as an Indication of the Human Unconscious
As the name alludes, IT seems to derive from the Latin id, the equivalent of the German es. The concept was first coined by Sigmund Freud, to define the part of the mind which refers to the innate instinctive impulses.
The symbolism used both in the books and in the movies, seems to point to the human unconscious.
Freud defined the id as the basic layer out of three: the id, the ego, and the super-ego. These multi-layered elements of human personality impact the way we approach life.
Id is defined by the desire to act upon our basic and primal urges, our instincts and primitive behaviors, a source of human psychic energy.
The id is pleasure-driven, in search of immediate gratification, while the two other layers of our personalities, the ego and the super-ego, attempt to keep id’s pressure under control, to avoid disruptive and socially unacceptable behavior.
The motif that is present both in the books and in the movies is the barrens, an emblem of the unconscious. It also discloses how the entity can shape-shift into whatever the interlocutor fears most – it has access to everyone’s innermost hidden thoughts and demons and takes the form of whatever they fear the most:
Ben sees IT as a mummy, Eddie as a leper, Bill as Georgie’s ghost, Richie as a werewolf, Stan as two drowned boys and Beverly as a fountain of blood spurting from her bathroom sink, not a coincidence given the fact that she is at the age of her first menstruation.
IT as the Collective Unconscious
Understanding the collective unconscious (German: kollektives Unbewusstes), defined by Carl Jung as the structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species, has been attempted by mythology, parapsychology, alchemy, and occult religion.
According to Jung, all humans, regardless of race or geographical location share the same collective pool of instincts, fears, and imagery. The manifestation of this unconscious can vary, nonetheless, due to our cultural influence and upbringing.
IT as the Embodiment of Human Evil
The amnesia that the people from Derry suffer from is also quite typical of human nature. When tragedy strikes, we tend to cluster around it, we watch breathlessly as events evolve, mesmerized by the show of human suffering, secretly relieved that it is not ours to suffer.
But after the first effervescence of the tragedy passes, we tend to forget and soon return to our daily lives, almost as if nothing had happened.
Similarly, the people from Derry tend to suffer from a form of amnesia during the 27-year cycle of hibernation. This has allowed IT to perpetuate some of the worst crimes known to mankind: child-abduction, murder, massacres, the worst imaginable.
IT also preys on the minds of the victims, enjoying their fears almost as much as he enjoys murdering them, a process IT considers akin to „salting the meat”.
Even the members of the Losers Club have forgotten the traumatic events of their own childhood.
Only upon their return to Derry do their memories come flooding back.
This willful forgetfulness among the adult residents of Derry, who never seem to fully investigate the murders, is also an allegory of the adult standpoint towards children’s fears that never seem to be taken seriously.
The association to the Ritual Of Chüd, the ancient ritual that allows the Losers to sneak into the Macroverse, is symbolic as to the ancient alien source of this evil, as if it has materialized in our world as an external influence, much like the snake in the garden of Eden, incumbent for the onset of evil into the human mind.
Evil as a Part of Human Consciousness
But, just like the snake, IT did nothing but expose the demons that reside inside human consciousness.
IT represents the fears of death in the form of the leper, child abuse, as represented by Beverly’s father, hypochondria that Eddie had inherited from his mother eating away his life, Bill’s bullying and judgment because of his stutter or Ben’s bullying because of his excessive weight, the indolent demeanor of the other people who know evil deeds are going on but do not interfere to help, the racism experienced by Mike.
Human nature has shown enough wickedness, brutality, and ignorance not to need external influencing forces.
IT bears resemblance to the collective psyche archetype of the innate evil that we appear to have inherited from our ancestors, a collective matrix that gathers all psychic occurrences, a collection of archaic strata of previous evil experiences.
IT is like a body of unconscious energy, a mono-psychic energy that will outlive individuals, as a timeless force that drives life.
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