All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
Yes, those are the words of the immortal William Shakespeare from the play As You Like It, and these words epitomize the action that takes place in the movie I’ve chosen for today’s episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts.
Although, in today’s example, it’s not one man playing many parts, it’s one woman…sort of.
It’s a little complicated, okay?
Look, today’s movie is Zack Snyder’s 2011 critical flop, Sucker Punch, and before we get started I want to tell you why it was a critical flop:
Because the entire movie is symbolism and emotion and all of the critics and detractors were intellectually and ideologically analysing the movie.
Trust me when I say this, Sucker Punch is an exceedingly deep and emotional, feminine-driven, eros movie that will make zero sense to your intellectual, male-driven psyche.
And all of those elements are the stars of the show.
Hello, Spiritual Seekers, and welcome to yet another episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts. As always, I’m your host, Mark, and as I said in the introduction, today’s Deeper Meaning of Movies episode is going to focus on Sucker Punch.
This movie surprised me when I watched it. I thought it was based off a graphic novel or an anime – it certainly carries that look – but it turned out that it was an original story by Zack Snyder.
And, wow! What a story!
I admit, it can be a little confusing to wrap your head around the perspective of it and you’ll probably have to watch it a few times to grasp all of the symbolism…if it’s even possible to grasp all of the symbolism. I think I’ve watched this movie five times to prepare for this script and I still can’t figure out all of the archetypes that are represented.
Archetypes are the primary players in Sucker Punch and they are represented even more blatantly and brilliantly than Thor: Ragnarok did.
However, the Archetypes in Sucker Punch are also deeper and more complex and more nuanced than the basic versions we see in Thor: Raganarok. Each Archetype in Sucker Punch can represent a multitude of personality traits and emotions. Some of them are purely symbolic while others are representations of real people within the story.
I think what I’ll do at this point is summarize the movie for you and then we’ll take a look at the symbolism of various scenes and of the movie as a whole.
Oh, and as usual for me, spoilers will abound here. Go and watch the movie first if you don’t want anything ruined for you right now.
The story begins with the girl we come to know as Babydoll. Her mother dies. Her stepfather believed he was going to inherit her wealth, but the mother left it to her two daughters. In a fit of rage, the stepfather attacks the girls with the bigger implication being that he is going to rape the younger sister.
Babydoll threatens him a gun. She fires over his shoulder and the ricochet kills her sister.
This sets up Babydoll being sent to a mental asylum where the stepfather has paid an intern to forge a doctor’s signature and have Babydoll lobotomized. This is scheduled to happen in five days.
Babydoll overhears a doctor say, “You control this world.” There’s more to the line than that and I’ll quote it in full later. So, Babydoll begins to view the asylum as a brothel. Slightly nicer furnishings than the asylum, but still just as much of a prison.
In this brothel, every girl must dance, but when Babydoll dances we don’t see her dance. Every dance for her is a battle and what we see on screen is those battle sequences.
The story centres around five women: Babydoll, Rocket, Blondie, Amber and Sweetpea and their goal is to escape the brothel. A wise man has told them that they need a map, a fire, a knife, a key and a mystery item to achieve their freedom.
The women gain three of the items, but their plan is discovered. Rocket, Amber and Blondie are murdered, Babydoll is lobotomized and Sweetpea escapes.
And, yes, if you’re thinking that’s a terrible ending, just know that I’ve definitely left out more than a few details.
Which I will most likely cover as we unravel the symbolism of this movie. Of which the very first bit of shows up in the opening Warner Brothers and production company logos sequence.
The very first thing we see is a stage.
Remember, “All the world’s a stage.”
Well, we could also say that all of the mind is a stage or, even better, that all of the soul is a stage.
As I’ve said for nearly every movie that I’ve analysed on Think Spiritual Podcasts, you have to visualize all of that onscreen action happening within yourself. Within your imagination, within your thoughts, within your feelings, within your mind, and within your very soul.
All of Sucker Punch is happening within one character’s soul and we hear her voice as she tells us that we all have a Hero within us:
Everyone has an Angel. A Guardian who watches over us. We can’t know what form they’ll take. One day, old man. Next day, little girl. But don’t let appearances fool you, they can be as fierce as any dragon. Yet, they’re not here to fight our battles, but to whisper from our heart. Reminding that it’s us. It’s every one of us who holds the power over the worlds we create.
Now we get the entire scene where Babydoll’s mother dies, where her stepfather attacks her and her sister and where her sister dies.
So, what we have here is the birth of Trauma and the death of Innocence.
I don’t think there is anyone who has not experienced any trauma in their life. Of course, trauma varies greatly from one person to another. Some people overcome incredibly damaging life events while others can’t seem to get past the smallest of personal slights.
Either way, regardless of the degree, trauma kills innocence. Once your world has been unmade, it cannot be remade as it was before. You can only move forward and build something new.
However, when it comes to trauma what most of us do is lock ourselves in a prison of guilt and self-loathing. That is what the mental asylum and the brothel represent. We feel like we are crazy and unworthy of love.
And whether we realize it or not, we are the one in control of our own prison.
It’s like we talked about, you control this world. Let the pain go, let the hurt go, let the guilt go. What you are imagining right now, that world you control. That place can be as real as any pain.
It is here in this mental asylum or brothel where the outwardly Programmed Ego or perhaps the False Persona – the character known as Blue and a host of other depraved men in this movie – keeps the battered Feminine – the emotions, the eros, the depths of the soul.
And to escape this prison, this asylum, this den of rape and defilement is the goal – the Call to Adventure – of the Feminine, of the emotions. To escape the trauma and begin the journey of who you are truly meant to be. The Hero’s Journey. What else could it be?
In order to do this, a tool is needed. Something that can awaken the emotions, something that can get them working together, something that can allow you access to your inner temple where Wisdom awaits you.
This tool is any form of art. Whether it be movies or books or painting or music or – as in the case with Sucker Punch – dancing.
If you do not dance you have no purpose. And we don’t keep things here that have no purpose. You see, your fight for survival starts right now. You don’t want to be judged? You won’t be. You don’t think you’re strong enough? You are. You’re afraid. Don’t be. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight.
Honestly, it was that scene and those words that woke me up to the deep meaning of this movie. From now on, you’re going to hear me say that line very often.
“You have all the weapons you need. Now fight.”
Dancing or art in general, keeps the Programmed Ego mesmerized giving the Emotions a chance to wage war upon the inner workings of our Psyche.
Wisdom informs us that five things are needed to gain our freedom:
Number 1, a Map – we need directions, a pathway to follow. This map for us could be a support group, a 12-step program, counselling, good friends, a self-help book, a meditative practice, a – ugh, dare I say it? I will, but proceed with caution – a religion. Anything that gives us guidance out of our trauma and the prison of our minds.
Number 2, a Fire – we need a fire within us. We need passion, drive and cleansing. As I’ve said in previous episodes, this is exactly what fire generally represents in movies.
Number 3, a Knife – we always need something that will cut the ties that bind us to our pain and suffering. Or something to cut through the bullshit and lies that we feed ourselves. Maybe this is even a breaking away from people who keep dragging us down.
Number 4, a Key – we always need keys to unlock the prison we keep ourselves in. It is not our Programmed Ego that should have control of that key to our soul. Our true Self requires that key.
Wisdom then tells us that one thing more is needed to gain our freedom, but it is a mystery, it is the goal and it will require a deep sacrifice.
We are then told to defend ourselves from Judgement, Weakness and Fear. Remember, we have all the weapons we need and we are strong enough to use them.
Once we have our weapons, once we are determined to escape, to be free, to make our life better. Once we believe we are the Hero, that internal Judgement gets beheaded, Weakness takes a bullet to the head, and Fear gets cut in half.
Then we take command of the situation and we can begin to rally the rest of our emotions. Do you want to be free? Come with me! We can do it, we can escape!
You can deny angels exist, Convince ourselves they can’t be real. But they show up anyway, at strange places and at strange times. They can speak through any character we can imagine. They’ll shout through demons if they have to. Daring us, challenging us to fight.
Now, I want to point out here that this is why Sucker Punch uses hyper-femininity to tell its story, just as 300 used hyper-masculinity to tell its epic.
As I’ve said, the Feminine symbolizes our emotions. Our emotions, our sensibilities, our empathy and our compassion are all capable weapons against our unfeeling intellect.
However, our Feminine is also easily abused and repressed by our Programmed Ego.
See how this fits Western Society right now?
Society is a reflection of the inner workings of the human soul, not the other way around. This is why I always say, change your SELF, change your WORLD. We cannot change the outer world until our inner world is at least in some semblance of balance.
Look at the fight scene for the map in Sucker Punch. We see the ladies at war with undead Nazi automatons. How many people are walking around in that state of mind right now? When our emotions have been neglected and rejected, we live in that robotic-like state.
And look at the scene a little closer. There are men fighting the automatons as well. But they’re not men. They’re boys. The immature and repressed masculine is here fighting this war as well.
Even Wisdom was repressed at one time – remember how he was locked in his temple? It had to be destroyed to set him free.
The men in Sucker Punch are not the Masculine archetypes. They are Immaturity and Programmed Ego and False Persona. Which is exactly what Patriarchy is in the real world.
Always, always, always, our programmed Ego is watching us. Suspicious of what we’re doing. When he catches us, there will be hell to pay.
So, some of these battles we wage are pure victories, while others come at a severe cost to our True Self. As we fight to escape our inner prisons, there are parts of us that have to die along the way.
And this is why I say that the archetypes represented in Sucker Punch are multi-layered and complex.
Let’s look at Rocket. She’s young and impetuous. She ran away from home. She’s the first one to jump on board when she hears Babydoll’s plan to escape.
Rocket is Faith.
But Rocket is also Guilt. Rocket feels she is at fault for Sweetpea being imprisoned with her. She feels that if she had just been a better person that none of this would have happened to them.
Guilt has to die before the Self can be free.
And what about Amber?
Amber is Courage, possibly even Love. This is why she’s the pilot, the one who soars and cheers and controls the airways around your battles. She gets you onto the field of battle and carries you away in victory.
But Amber is also Timidity, possibly another version of Fear. She is always afraid of getting caught, of being in trouble. She wants to sit in the back of the room and not be noticed. Amber doesn’t want to rock the boat if she doesn’t have to.
Timidity has to die before the Self can be free.
And dear, sweet Blondie. What about her?
Blondie is our keen Perception or our Knowledge of the way the world works. She’s a specialist and knows all the tricks of the trade. She’s good with her hands, good with her heart and better with a 50-calibre automatic weapon.
But Blondie is also our Gullibility or our Foolishness. She wants to feel good all the time and wants to believe that everything will be “just fine”. She trusts too easily and is hurt too easily and is mislead too easily.
That Gullibility, that Foolishness also has to die before the Self can be free.
And finally, Babydoll.
Babydoll, the little blonde bombshell that no one would ever expect of being one of the greatest Heroes that anyone could have at their side.
Babydoll is Hope incarnate. She unleashes Wisdom from the chains of his temple. She takes down Judgement, Weakness, and Fear. She leads Faith, Courage and Knowledge on seemingly impossible missions all in the Hope of freeing the Self from imprisonment and Slavery.
But Babydoll is also Pain. Pain is a motivator. Pain and Suffering are actually the birth parents of Hope, because we always Hope for something greater.
But Pain can also birth a victim mentality or a raging Hulk within us and that is why she must be a willing sacrifice if the Self is ever to be free.
That Pain has to be lobotomized. It still exists, it never goes away, but it is sent to a place where it has no power over us. To a place where the Programmed Ego cannot use it to control us.
Which finally brings us to Sweetpea, the True Self and the true protagonist of this story. Sweetpea who is the actor and player on this stage of her life. Sweetpea who, with all four of her Heroes, finds her way to freedom, cleanses and purifies her soul with fire, stabs her Programmed Ego to loose his hold on her, and finally unlocks and escapes her prison by sacrificing her Pain.
It is Sweetpea who winds up in a new place, clean and bright, dressed in white, but still poor in spirit. She boards a bus to an unknown destination. Many new archetypes and potential Heroes are aboard with her. Notice that one is the immature Masculine that we saw on the battlefield before. He is no longer wounded and I’m guessing he doesn’t quite trust Sweetpea yet going by the look he gives her.
And it is Sweetpea who sums this movie up better than I could ever hope to:
And finally this question, the mystery of whose story it will be. Of who draws the curtain. Who is it that chooses our steps in the dance? Who drives us mad? Lashes us with whips and crowns us with victory when we survive the impossible? Who is it, that does all of these things?
Who honors those we love for the very life we live? Who sends monsters to kill us, and at the same time sings that we will never die? Who teaches us what’s real and how to laugh at lies? Who decides why we live and what we’ll die to defend? Who chains us? And who holds the key that can set us free… It’s you. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!
And there we have it once again, Dear Listeners. My interpretation of the incredible, soul-impacting movie, Sucker Punch. Honestly, I think this movie is slowly creeping its way into my heart as my number one, all-time favourite. It may even replace Willow as my desert-island pick.
Thank you very much for listening or watching today. Please like, share, comment, criticize, subscribe. If you care to support the podcast, please visit my Reverb sales page for music gear or my Etsy sales page for vintage items sourced by my lovely Christine.
I’m hoping to add some podcast-related items to the Etsy shop as well, but I haven’t had the time to focus on that yet.
You may also choose to simply send me some cash via PayPal.
As much as I prefer my inner world, my outer world still has bills to pay and a body to feed.
I’ll check into a Patreon page at some point too. I’d like to hear some ideas from you as to what services or other content I could offer on that format.
I have been your host, Mark. This has been an exploration of the Deeper Meanings of the 2011 film Sucker Punch – and trust me, I think I’ve barely squeezed this movie for what it contains – and I know that if you raise up your Hope, Faith, Courage, and Knowledge that you absolutely will free your Self from your internal prisons and, thus, be free to change your World for the better.
You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!
How could I not end the episode without that line? I swear I’m stealing that from now on. Maybe I can get some kind of permission to use it. Hmmm…
I will see you on the next episode of Think Spiritual Podcasts.