Monday, February 1, 2016

When I started watching Frequencies (2013), aka OXV: The Manual, as G who I recommended the movie to, I too thought it was “schizophrenic psychobabble.” But its weirdness kept me in, and by the end I realized it was much more deep. Here is why.

Frequencies is really a metaphor for what it means to be human. The reds, low frequencies, are low on luck. They can feel, they can love, but they make mistakes. The violets, high frequencies, (the colors correspond to their frequencies in the light spectrum) have all the luck, but just can’t feel. Things always work out for them. They don’t even have to wait for the train. But they cannot love. Everything is data for them, just an experiment.

So, Zak can feel love, and while he is very intelligent, everything in his life is determined by fate. Marie doesn’t ever have to worry about fate. Everything works out for her as she wants. Except, she cannot feel emotions.

sidenote: It is ironic that, when you think about it, "having all the luck" is the same as not having any role of fate in what you do. Everything works out for you. Another way to look at it is that bad luck is unpredictable, chaos, stochastic, while good luck is deterministic.

Then there is Theo. Because of his dad’s music, he is not affected by the frequencies. He figures out that certain two-syllable words have the effect of balancing out the frequencies. They have the power to change people. This is the metaphor for the power of music, language, of speech, and of ideas.

Zak uses some of these words to lower Marie’s frequency so she can “feel.” This enables Marie to feel love for Zak, and she tells him that she loves him. But when she realizes that it was Zak’s words that made her feel, instead of her feeling spontaneously on her own, she wonders if that is real love. I mean, if Zak has somehow convinced her that she loves him, does she really love him?

And, of course, there is the all powerful State the “State,” the government, the establishment, that wants to control free speech because free speech has the power to change people. The government is ready to imprison and kill Zak and Theo if they exercise the power of speech.

And there is Marie’s dad who sees economic value in Zak and Theo’s discovery/invention and wants to make a buck out of it. As he says so tellingly, “You know what you've done? This could mean an end to war, justice for all, peace on earth. Have you got a patent on it?”

Frequencies is really one of the convoluted yet thoughtful metaphors for us, our world, our lives. It is done like a play, and its stilted language and “schizophrenic psychobabble” make it both strange and ultimately so endearing. But, in the end, it is its intelligence and insight into what makes us want to be human that makes me like it so much.