“IO” is a new Netflix sci-fi production (directed by Jonathan Helpert, rated 13+) which presents the post-apocaliptyc version of the life on Earth.
In the movie we can find a lot of references to Greek and Roman myhology – especially to the myths of Jupiter (Zeus) and two of his lovers – Io and Leda.
The action of the movie takes place in the future, when the Earth is dying because of the toxic air pollution. We get to know that most of the people already left the planet and they are now living in the “Exodus” colony, at the space station called “IO”, which is localized on the one of the Jupiter’s moons (the naming becomes the first reference to the mythology in the movie).
In the first movie scene the main character – Sam Walden, is reading the poem of, entitled “Leda and the Swan” (written in 1923), placed on an art exhibition poster:
The Yeats’ interpretation of the Zeus and Leda’s myth is the key to understand the whole story presented in “IO”.
The main character of the movie is Sam Walden – a young girl, daughter of the well-known scientist (doctor Walden). She decides to stay on Earth and fight for her planet. Sam is living in her scientific station, placed above the toxic clouds in a high attitude. The girl believes that humans and nature are able to adapt themselves to the new atmosphere. We can see that everyday she is trying to grow plants, vegetables and breed the bees. The girl wants to continue her fathers’ work – she is trying to convince people that they should stay on Earth, and she is doing that by broadcasting her fathers’ recorded lectures. Apparently someone listened…
In the movie we can see that each day Sam travels down to the city zone (of course with the stash of oxygen bottles). She seems to be interested in literature and art, as she visits the library very often. In one of the scenes we can see her taking a book about Mythology. Later we also discover, that her wish is to see the exhibition in the local Museum of Art, dedicated to Mythology.
In the movie we also get to know Micah – the teacher of classical history and literature, who listens to Sam’s broadcasts. He believes that they are transmitted live and that he can meet doctor Walden face to face, so he decides to visit him.
Micah as a character seems to be an allusion to the figure of Jupiter (Zeus), especially in a few scenes. For example: we see that he arrives to Sam’s station from the sky (as Zeus becomes a cloud to approach Io in the myth).
There is also a conversation between these two characters about the swan (a reference to the popular art symbol, of coursed based on the Greek version of the Zeus and Leda’s myth, where Zeus takes the swan’s shape to seduce her). Sam asks Micah if he has ever seen this animal (as he belongs to the generation from before the apocalypse). He admits that he saw the bird when he was a kid – the girl seems to be impressed by this fact. I think it won’t be a surprise that eventually Sam and Micah have a sexual intercourse.
One of the the last scenes of the movie takes us to the Museum of Art – Sam finally watches the exhibition about the Mythology and Micah is joining her as well.
While Sam is watching the “Leda and the Swan” painting by Paul Cézanne, she is also reading again the. Micah (a teacher) is explaining her the meaning of it:
Micah: “Leda gave birth to Helen – Helen of Troy. A face that launched a thousand ships. She was considered the most beautiful woman in the world. Her abduction by Paris, the Prince of Troy, brought upon a Trojan War. The broken wall, the burning roof and tower, and Agamemnon dead. Leda was related to the gods. And the swan is Zeus. Zeus in disguise. Leda gave birth to God’s children.”
Then Sam confess to him her prophetic dreams…
In the last movie scene we see that Micah is on his way to the “Exodus” colony, while Sam and… their child are standing without the masks on the beautiful beach (just as in her dream visions).
“Just as Leda gave birth to god’s children, Sam is suggested to have given birth to a new generation, the next stage of evolution and survival on the planet.”
Art and Philosophy in the movie
During the movie we can see a lot of beautiful art representations of the myths of Jupiter and Io and Leda.
For example the painting “Jupiter and Io” by Correggio from ca. 1532:
and Paul Cézanne‘s painting “Leda and the Swan” from ca. 1880:
In one of movie fragment Micah explains to Sam the love theory of Platon (The Myth of the Missing Half), to prove her that people are not meant to be be alone (below short reminder of the Platon’s theory):
Found by Dorota Bazylczyk
Elaborated by Dorota Bazylczyk