Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Doctor Strange’ (2016)

Walt Disney Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures

The adage “Time heals all wounds” is the anti-mantra that pervades Doctor Strange, the new addition to Marvel’s filmography about a gifted neurosurgeon who goes down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Co-written and directed by Scott Derrickson, the movie describes the mental and mystical evolution of Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) within a framework of Saturnine archetypes that include limitation, commitment, discipline, self-imposed confinement, re-structuring, self-mastery and, above all, time.

Strange is an arrogant, ego-fueled doctor, indifferent to a fellow surgeon (Rachel McAdams) who’s sweet on him, and who smugly knows his hands effect miracles on a daily basis by powering through injured tissues critically in need of repair. He has an enviable collection of luxury wrist watches, all the better to adorn the body part that serves as a conduit to his fingers. However, in a karmic sucker punch, he suffers grave injuries in a car crash that mangle his digits. Refusing to throw in the professional towel, he commits to healing himself at a secret training facility – a “place that collects broken things” – in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Walt Disney Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures

What awaits this strictly Western-trained medical professional – he emphatically disavows the reality of spirit in favor of science – is the monkish Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). She, as Senex, along with Mordo (Chiwitel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong), quickly shows Strange the errors of his belief system by giving him a quick lesson in astral projection. Soon his digits are nimble enough to trim facial hair and swirl fiery portals into existence. Accolades that he was “born for the mystic arts” follow. He even garners his own protective age-old “relic,” a red cape that can exude affection, something the self-possessed Strange could not do in his old life.

But a massive battle is brewing. What role will the titular Doc – amidst big-city buildings and structures whose exterior and interior layers stunningly fold into each other through sorcery – play? Will he choose to protect the shields surrounding spiritual bastions designed to keep out evil forces, here personified by the Ancient One’s former star pupil Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who, hawking the promise of eternal life, declares, “Time kills everything”?

The Ancient One, who posits we never control the moment in time when we sever our mortal coil, carries the Saturnine energies of Master Teacher. Does Doctor Strange, recipient of the knowledge she imparted, heed the admonition, “Physician, heal thyself”?

Look at your time piece and start the countdown to what looks to be a welcome sequel.

Archetype: Time. Physician. Profession. Self-Mastery. Magician. Healer. Mystic. CEO. Tyrant. Senex. Commitment. Limitation. Discipline.

Astrology Archetype: ♄ (Saturn)

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