There has been a fair amount of conversation about apocalyptic themes in music on the blog, and I wanted to share my favorite musical adaptation of an apocalypse-type story. The (admittedly bizarre) musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, does a wonderful rendition of Plato’s Symposium in the form of a love song, with some great animations to complement the lyrics.

The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3oSc8gMrGo 

Symposium tells the story of how humans became the creatures that we are today and learned about love. We began as four-legged, four-armed and two headed creatures. The gods became angry at mankind after men came to attack the gods, and the council of the gods deliberated on how to deal with these rebellious creatures. Zeus came up with the plan to cut everyone in two, weakening mankind and making it less a threat to the gods. This served as a type of emotional apocalypse for those separated, as they spent the remainder of their lives trying to re-join as one – many neglecting to eat and dying from starvation. The original race of humanity was no more and the gods scattered the resulting men and women across the world. We had become two-legged creatures determined to find our other half. We are left incomplete, “[a]nd the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love” (Plato 18).

The story follows some of the similar themes we’ve seen in class, wherein an apocalypse is caused by the wrongdoings of sinful, corrupt, or disrespectful humans, leading the gods to wipe out the offending parties. In this case, the original race (the children of the sun, moon, and earth) and was obliterated, leaving the new race of mankind to try to search out its own Utopia in the form of their missing halves.

 

Cited sources

C, Michael. “Unsung Heroes: the Animation of ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch.’” Thefilmexperience.com. 9 Jun. 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Dir. John Cameron Mitchel. Perf. John Cameron Mitchel, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask. New Line Cinema. 2001. Film.

Plato. “Symposium and Phaedrus.” Dover Publications. New York: Dover Publications, 1993. Print.