Continental Drift

Bible Symbols in Pacific Rim

“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded.” (Revelation 10:1-3)

Just a few notes on Pacific Rim, a movie which we enjoyed very much. It’s one of those films where you know your strings are being pulled, but they are doing it so well you don’t mind at all. There are some interesting deviations from the Hollywood formula, and they are worth identifying.

(Oh, and River says there’s spoilers ahead.)

Beasts from the Sea

The first difference is that the alien life is not from the stars — well, not directly. The monsters come from the deep and make their way to the Land, which is exactly what they do in the three-decker world of the Bible, beginning with the serpent (literally “shining one”) in Genesis 3. Of course, we are familiar with the four beasts which come from the sea in Daniel 7, and interestingly they all seem to be Land beasts. They rise up out of the nations as the four corners of a new mediatory Land, the oikoumene, within which the Jews will serve as a priesthood to the Gentiles until the Messiah comes.

The Metal Man

The first man to be “mined” from the ground was, well, the first man. It seems he was laid out on the ground just like the Tabernacle, with his feet pointing East (the order in which he would “walk” and take dominion). The Tabernacle is also humaniform, but the first obvious “metal man” is the one in Daniel 2. He is a “corporate man,” a Temple made of all nations, and a different way of looking at those four bestial guardians. He is “Church” and they are “State.” He is indeed glorious, but like all previous temples, has a use-by date.

The relationship between these two images, man and Land beast, is interesting. All the “beast kingdoms” (sea and land) are created before the Man, as they were on Days 5 and 6. Like the Jaegers in Pacific Rim, the Land beasts are humaniform but bestial: they are hunters and warriors. Like Nebuchadnezzar they must first be humbled to become the true corporate Man. They must be subdued by the God-Man, the fifth kingdom. But the fifth kingdom is also a “corporate man,” a state power ruling from heaven.

There is also a progression of dominion which moves from commission in the Garden to conquest of the Land and finally “walking” on the waters. Adam’s rule moves from crushing the serpent, to calling and naming (governing) the animals, and finally to dominion over the great beasts of the sea. [1]

Heaven and Earth

The Jaegers are carried from their hangars and dropped into the sea by helicopters. They are “lifted up between heaven and earth” as holy warriors, Nazirite mediators for mankind. Even though the beasts (the Kaiju) are from the sea, they can walk on the land, and one can fly. This one carries a Jaegar into the sky (false exaltation) so that it can drop it and destroy it. This war in heaven between the Man and the Dragon is witnessed by representatives of all nations.

The combination of giant men and giant beasts works well because these symbols come from the beginning of human history. They are already deep within our psyche.

Global Drift

The idea of the Jaegers requiring two pilots, two brain hemispheres, to be united in a “drift” makes for good storytelling. It means that every Jaegar is “Trinitarian,” that is, motivated by a single-minded relationship. The “hive mentality” is prominent in the story, in the Jaegars and also the Kaiju. It is corporate Man versus corporate Beast, as it is in the Revelation: the unstoppable “unity” of Babel (Genesis 11:6) versus the unstoppable “all of one mind” of the Church (John 17:22-23). But relationship also means vulnerability, and just about everyone who pilots a fighter has suffered, or will suffer, some sort of bereavement.

The combination of left and right brain in the hero Jaeger is also a combination of East and West, America and China, against a common enemy. The final shot is of the hero couple, thankfully not kissing, but forehead to forehead. Instead of a tired old nationalism (Team America, anyone?), a common enemy from the abyss unites the nations.

Relating this to Tabernacle imagery, it is the combination of Priest (standing, left hand closed) and King (enthroned, right hand open) that produces the invincible Prophet who walks the nations, both the Land and the Sea.

The focus, as with the New Testament witness, is on the cities. The Jaegers are corporate metal men defending bridal cities against reptilian attacks, which is the picture we are given in Revelation 8, where the Judaizers are pictured as sulphuric locusts and the apostolic warriors are presented as Man-Beast hybrids wearing fragrant “Tabernacle” armor. Like their Master, the saints have all the attributes of beasts because they are empowered to subdue them and incorporate them into the Body.

The Real Rift

The good thing about glory in Pacific Rim is that is not only linked with sacrifice, but unity. It is a corporate glory. However, there will be no united nations aside from the unity of the Spirit in the Church. It will be attempted again and again through war, economics and social engineering, and will fail every time, because the heart of the matter is not Social but Ethical. [2] The true Adam will not allow a false Eve (the harlot) to be constructed upon His sacrifice.

As with the Bible, movies use pictures and symbols. But the New Testament moves the action from the Social to the Ethical arena (more on this soon). The Beasts are still corporate Man, and the Rift is not a tear in the abyss but the “works” that spew from the human heart. We are called to slay our sins to take territory for Jesus. The serpent will be entirely “circumcised,” his “corporate” human flesh cut off, before he is finally cast into the lake of fire. [3]

[1] See The Church As Colossus and Serpents and Dragons.
[2] See Global Glass Ceiling.
[3] See The Circumcision of Satan.

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2 Responses to “Continental Drift”

  • Claude Graves Says:

    Hey Mr. Bull!

    This was good to read. I appreciated this and your breakdown of Skyfall as well. Question for you, when we analyze imagery and symbols according to biblical archetypes, are we doing this because this is the way God made the creation, and man will live out and imitate these unknowingly/knowingly?

    I guess to rephrase, all human stories, even if written from a non-Christian perspective, have elements of the Christian story because this is inherently built into reality?

    Hope all that makes sense.

    -Claude Graves

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Yes, I think you are right to some degree. If stories work against inherent meanings they fail to engage the audience. I do think part of it has to do with our culture’s familiarity with the Bible.
    I’m sure some culture twisted things centuries ago and these became familiar and acceptable, so perhaps this is not always the case.
    Many of these movies are now made more for foreign audiences (did you know Water World actually made money outside of the USA?) so the “biblical” format and symbols are making their way around the world in some movies.
    Did you also notice there were two “mad professors” instead of just the one – rivals and yet complementary?
    Also, do you have any thoughts on the significance of the two missing shoes? Biblically, foot + land = dominion.
    Thanks for commenting!