Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Omily Tarot: Now You See Me...and I'm Not Referring to September's Dearth of Posts

I've made it back from Korea, and am ready to resume blogging!  Who's excited? I know I am! I brought my tarot deck with me to Korea, but it didn't get a ton of use: so much info coming in from the outside, there wasn't much room left for quiet introspection...but we did have one fun impromptu bar tarot reading, which is one of my favourite kinds.

Perhaps feeling left out, the tarot popped up again on our very last night when we went to see the movie, Now You See Me: an action flick about four magicians pulling off impossible-seeming heists while the FBI try to catch them, and Morgan Freeman tries to reveal their tricks for his magician-debunking tv show.  Barring the last five minutes, it was fantastically entertaining.
But what does it have to do with the tarot?  Well, the movie begins with each of the four main characters performing their signature acts...and then discovering someone has left them a tarot card from the major arcana with an address written on it.  Each responds as though this is a signal they recognize, and the plot thickens from there...but of course, what I was interested in was, who got what card?  And why?  I had sort of hoped the choice of cards would come up later in the film...but it didn't. It's still an interesting exercise to contemplate how the cards relate to each character's personality and fate.

This movie has been around a while now: it was on offer on the plane ride home from Korea, so perhaps you've already seen it...but in case you haven't, I was careful not to include any spoilers.

J. Daniel Atlas the dick/ring leader of the group and second from the left in the picture, got the Lovers, Hinley, the only lady (too predictable; this movie fails the Bechdel test, btw) got the High Priestess, Merritt, the one in the hat, a wise-cracking jerk whose self-deprecation makes him lovable, got the Hermit, and Jack, the rookie of the group on the far right, got Death...already I can see some interesting parallels.

Atlas thinks he's hot stuff, but he clearly needs to work on relating to and working with other people as equals.

Henley is fighting hard to be successful in a male-dominated industry where women are treated like stage decorations, but required to fulfill the role of work horses, which requires her to internalize feelings of frustration and anger, and maintain an air of mystery: she needs to appear more professional and more talented than her peers to be perceived as their equal. The less of the High Priestess: to use your wisdom to benefit others, is a reminder to Henley that her struggles shouldn't make her bitter, or graspy.

Merritt is a good guy, but intentionally or unintentionally, he doesn't let anybody get too close, operating instead as an anonymous force for justice, and neutrality in the universe.  I feel like Justice would have better gotten to the heart of Merritt, but the Hermit is perhaps easier for non-tarot enthusiasts to get. It does also better show his struggle to stop trying to fix those around him, and direct that piercing gaze into his own shadowy interior.

Jack's card is perhaps about the massive changes he'll go through, as the youngest of the group, being reborn at the end as someone worthy of the other's respect. There is a moment in the film when Jack is forced to let go of something in order to continue forward with the group, which the Death card could have been referencing as well.

Truthfully, I have no idea if any tarot fans worked on this film.  The cards could have been chosen (mostly) at random, but, it's the Tarot!  So nothing is random, or everything is random depending on how you think of still has meaning.  Have you seen Now You See Me?  Think you'll watch it now? If you do, keep an eye out for the tarot cards, and apply your own interpretations.  Try interpreting each card as a future reading for each character, and then watch the film to see how their stories pan out.  Were you close?  Way off target?  Tell me!


  1. What tarot deck do those cards come from?

  2. I don't know what deck was used in the film; the cards were similar to the Waite-Smith deck, but the color scheme/stylization were different. Perhaps they came from a Mersailles deck? That's a really good question...this looks like a job for the internet!! Let me know if you figure it out! ;-)