Have you ever reached the end of a film and thought, “Wow. That actor really nailed it. How did they do that?” Think Julia Roberts and Erin Brockovich; Leonardo DiCaprio and Howard Hughes; Daniel Day Lewis and Abraham Lincoln – and possibly my absolute favourite, Taron Egerton and Elton John. In this true labour of love, for which Alex Trenoweth sat through many, many hours of films, the astrological links between a wide range of famous characters and the actors who portrayed them are revealed in all their glory.
Watch the live reveal when we received our proof copies on Youtube here. Such fun!
As well as being a film buff extraordinaire, Alex is also an incredibly gifted teacher who uses astrology to gain insight into the ways that different year groups behave, and the best way to teach them. You can read more in her book Growing Pains: Astrology inAdolescence.
The moment I opened Mirror Mirror, memories were revived. Before astrology beckoned me rather late in life (thank you, Saturn) I reviewed movies and attended film festivals – Cannes being by far the most glamorous and cool. I was transported back to the Palais des Festivals, the vast entertainment hub of Cannes on the Croisette, and heard once again Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, the ‘Aquarium’ movement in particular which was played on a loop morning, noon and night, year after year, in the Palais’ public halls and corridors. I didn’t know it then, but Cannes had enjoined the movies showcased with a piece of music that summons up dreams and magical phantasms of reality (as well as an aquarium) – Neptune in a word. In modern astrology, Neptune rules the movie, the arena of light illusion, all that appears real but is not. Unwittingly, the organisers of Cannes had found the perfect Neptunian, watery serenade for the celluloid fodder of the dream factories.
Another one of those…coincidences.
Mirror Mirror takes us into the domain of Neptune for an amazing and original exploration. As a film buff herself, Alex Trenoweth started to notice the astrological connections between real-life stories and the illusory renditions on the big screen, and between the real people portrayed (such as Oscar Wilde or Elizabeth I) and the actors hired to portray them. We may say, for instance, that Taron Egerton gives us a remarkably good impression of Elton John in Rocketman, but only an astrologer can make something of the Sun/Moon conjunction in the two men’s synastry which enabled the actor to get under the skin of the subject and persuade us that he was in effect Elton John.
Trenoweth puts a hundred movies under the astro-microscope, supported by hundreds of charts – mostly biwheels and triwheels. She rewatched all the movies under discussion, with Mr Bubbles by her side, her pet cat who has since departed for purr-heaven. And what helps make this an astounding book is its structure which ensures that a love of the movies does not eclipse the astrology.
This is achieved quite simply by allotting each of the planets and lunar points its own chapter with a selection of films that share its astrological themes. As Trenoweth explains in her Introduction, films are categorised “by the planet that showed the strongest synastry between character and actor”. So, to take one planetary example, Pluto embraces A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, Al Capone, Madame Curie and Schindler’s List because each features highly transformative, Plutonian themes. But also, there are interesting aspects and synastry involving Pluto: Greer Garson, for example, was perfect to play Marie Curie, a scientist who researched radioactivity, because Garson’s Pluto (radioactivity) was conjunct her own MC (career).
Another wise move structurally was the decision only to look at the films that are about real people living or dead – this roots the astrological associations in an origin actuality, a discrete starting point from which to trace the links that take us into the filmic dream. And the astrology.
Trenoweth imposes a disciplined, set format on each movie analysis, upholding order, and this reminds us that this is not a book to be confused with the spirit of Photoplay. Under each title, birth data of selected starring performers is set out before Trenoweth treats us to a faithful synopsis of the storyline. Then she moves to the aspects and synastry. So, in the case of Wilde in the Venus chapter – the biopic of Oscar Wilde’s decline and fall starring Stephen Fry – it is significant that the two men’s Venuses in Libra are conjunct, and that Fry’s MC sits on Wilde’s North Node. This aspect alone suggests a fated quality to Fry’s uncanny conjuring up of Wilde, as if he were born to play the part. (Arguably, Fry has never done anything better since the brilliance of his Wilde.)
Trenoweth also notes that Fry’s co-star Jude Law’s Pluto in Libra is conjunct the Moon of Lord Alfred Douglas, aka the infamous Bosie whose affair with Wilde and feud with his own father were largely responsible for Wilde’s destruction. It is as if the astrological dynamics of the actual story are played out at a filmic level in an interplay of matching cosmic energies – crossing boundaries of time, personal identity, fact and fiction, and locations – a mirroring only to be found in the horoscope.
Countless other new things are to be discovered in this compendious book. In the later chapter Multiple Versions, Trenoweth revisits those famous people whose lives have been turned into more than one biopic, people like Ted Bundy or Stephen Hawking. My favourite chapter is…Favourites, at the back of the book, comprising the flicks that have turned Trenoweth into a fangirl. I share a lot of her loves. I was most pleased to see Michael Douglas’ Liberace film Behind the Candelabra – not strictly a big screen film but a TV movie, largely thanks to Hollywood studio homophobia – analysed, as well as the Meryl Streep classic Julie & Julia. The astrological connections in these and many other films are breath-taking.
If ever a book should come with a carton of popcorn, it’s Mirror Mirror. Prodigiously researched, painstakingly detailed to satisfy the worst cases of data freakery, and beautifully turned out (applause for publisher Margaret Cahill), this is a book that (like all good movie franchises) most probably will end up with a sequel and a prequel.
Victor Olliver The AA Journal