Astrology: Film: ‘The World’s End’ (2013)

Focus Features

Focus Features

There’s merit to finishing incomplete projects. Even when, as is the case in Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, the mission needing resolution is two decades’ old.

The action centers around five adult Brit males who, when they completed studies in 1990, went on their Golden Mile pub crawl that would culminate at The World’s End, the Holy Grail of beerdom.

The ring leader of that adolescent escapade, Gary King (Simon Pegg), never made it to that final-destination pub with the blokes. Turns out, he never made it to mature adulthood, either. A boy-man who shamelessly exudes the Peter Pan complex, characterized by never wanting to behave like a grown-up and take on its responsibilities, Gary stands out in stark contrast to the other chaps who’ve more gracefully transitioned into manhood.

In addition to Steve (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Peter (Eddie Marsan), there’s Andy (Nick Frost). Andy, who has become the most “professional” of the quintet, makes Gary’s petulance about doing the crawl again – the right way, this time, to the finish line – seem an even more childish impulse. However, Gary’s clever motor-mouth personality wears the lads down, and they’re off to Newton Haven to chug a bunch of pints leading to hops-filled glory.

It will come as no surprise that the years will challenge a successful completion of their mission. As one character says, the guys haven’t changed, it’s the town and the inhabitants that have been radically transformed. Unfortunately, the alterations – in the Uranian sense of futurism, robotics and revolution and, in a twist, Saturnine conformity – are not for the better.

The movie pleases with lightning-quick dialogue, frenzied choreographic moves, life-and-death dangers and – let’s not forget – keeping to that grueling beer-guzzling schedule despite the promise of an apocalyptic-like finale. However, what may be the smartest thing about The World’s End is the no-holds-barred depiction of the “eternal boy” (puer aeternus), an archetype popularized by Jung that, well, never grows old.

This brings us back to Andy, who lives by a sterling code of responsibility, order and discipline, but who gravely lacks the spark of life that Gary – a Mercurial sprite with Dionysian pleasure-seeking-at-all-costs proclivities – has in spades. Andy, who’s at the other end of the puer spectrum, represents the senex – the hunched-over old man, associated with the god Cronus, who never seems to have much fun.

Another clever twist is giving Gary the surname of King, an archetype representing sovereignty but which is also astrologically associated – through Leo and its ruling planet, the Sun – with the expressive but demanding child and, in turn, with the puer.

As the final piece of Wright’s Cornetto trilogy – along with Shaun of the Dead and Hot FuzzThe World’s End finishes on a note of unbridled license, but also with a clear-sighted view into a modern definition of maleness.

Astrology Film Review: ☉♄ (Sun, Saturn)

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