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I Origins

June 9, 2017

A spiritual movie about the eyes, science, reincarnation, and the great mysteries of life.


Dr. Ian Gray (Michael Pitt) is an intense and obsessed molecular biologist whose research is focused on the evolution of the eye. He has long been fascinated with these organs of vision and has taken hundreds of close-up pictures of human eyes showcasing the distinctive features of each. Whereas creationists argue that the eye is proof of intelligent design and the existence of God, Ian wants to prove that the eye has evolved through mutations over the centuries.


What is special about eyes?

Many religious texts, across the world, rely on the fact that the eyes are so intricate and have no evidence of evolution and therefore calls for a greater power, a maker. The eye in its complexity is known to be the window to our souls. Now this is what the movie is focussing on, the eyes and the significance. You could possibly ask why not fingerprints and their significance. Have you ever heard of the phrase – “Fingerprints are the window to the soul”? No- Well then that’s why. Ian is looking to bust this popular spiritual belief that eyes were made directly by the greater maker – God.




Ian is not immediately pleased when Karen (Brit Marling) a first-year med student, comes to work for him as his new lab assistant, but she quickly impresses him. She says that they need to find a non-seeing organism yet contains the necessary genetic materials to make an eye; they will then try to replicate the series of mutations leading to a complex eye. This "origin species" turns out to be a worm.

While Karen works long hours on this project, Ian is trying to track down Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), a beautiful young woman he met at a Halloween party; all he could see through her costume were her stunning eyes. 

Much to his shock and surprise, the benevolent universe, which religiously inclined people call fate or destiny, helps him find her through a series of lucky elevens — purchasing a lottery ticket in a 7-Eleven, getting $11.11 in change, seeing that the time is 11:11 and taking a number 11 bus — and, not surprisingly, an advertisement featuring her eyes.

Sofi is drawn to Ian as well and they are soon living together. But she does not understand his animosity toward religion and spiritual matters. Learning of his research, she warns him, "It is dangerous to play God." 

Writer and director Mike Cahill has created a fascinating story that evolves over two decades as Ian's research takes him from New York to Boise, Idaho, to New Delhi, India. The drama asks us to ponder deep questions about faith, destiny, scientific truth, meaning, and the soul's journey after death.  

Back to the last scene, Ian is overwhelmed by the fact that Salomina has an inexplicable fear of elevators, the thing that severed Sofi in half. His silence and his carrying away Salomina could possibly indicate that Ian is accepting this as a spiritual event that trumps his scientific belief. Ian now accepts that Salomina is a reincarnation of Sofi.

(Hint: Be sure to stay for the scenes after the film's closing credits.)




I Origin revolves around the science and the mystery of eyes. Here are some quotations and questions about these organs of vision.


Consider this by the Sufi seer and poet Rumi:

"The patron of your eyes is God," 


The poet Walt Whitman once commented:"

"What is it that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the words I have read in my life."


Here's an observation about eyes from Marilynne Robinson's novel Gilead:"

"The twinkling of an eye. That is the most wonderful expression. I've thought from time to time it was the best thing in life, that little incandescence you see in people when the charm of a thing strikes them, or humor of it. 'The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart.'


That's a fact." And last but not least, the eyes are windows of the soul."



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