“CHRYSALIS” is an experimental film by first-time filmmaker Nic Nassuet; a multi-ethnic, disabled, veteran, award-winning songwriter and recording artist. “CHRYSALIS” has its roots in the alchemical process of transmutation as experienced via a transition from the military into civilian life as a disabled veteran. The film was created for Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) Veterans Make Movies program in which veterans study filmmaking and create their own short films for the museum’s archives in just eight weeks.
“CHRYSALIS” is the only movie of any length to have ever filmed on location in the tombs beneath the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. Through the intention imbued into every effect, color, sound, click, knock, angle, set, and frame, the cycles of creation, sustenance, and destruction, are exemplified as are the Masonic, Rosicrucian, and Eastern mysteries as they relate to the “Solve et Coagula” formula of destruction and reconstitution.
The title “CHRYSALIS” is necessarily written entirely in capital letters. This is because the external state of the chrysalis is outwardly still and silent, while the internal state is one of noise and ordered chaos.
Nic Nassuet: Director
Nic Nassuet: Writer
Nic Nassuet: Producer
Anna Lee: Key Cast
Robert R. Ryel: Key Cast
David Nassau: Key Cast
Charles Claymore: Key Cast
Wolf Ramsey: Key Cast
Nic Nassuet: Cinematography
Nic Nassuet: Post Production
Film Type: Short
Genres: Experimental, postmodern, occult, religious, spiritual, mystical, hermetic, cult, metaphysical
Runtime: 5 minutes 6 seconds
Completion Date: September 10, 2017
Country of Origin: United States
Country of Filming: United States
Shooting Format: Digital
Film Color: Color
Long before we could speak, or understand our mother tongue(s), we had thoughts and feelings. Those thoughts and feelings are expressed in color, sound, and symbol. Each of us has our own internal language that we express through collectively understood external languages. Understanding the personal language of another requires the deconstruction of the hallucination of collective language and culture. The colors, sounds, symbols, and moods expressed in this piece transcend time and culture, and should not be interpreted through the lenses of language, location, or era.
Many people will not understand this film, and that is okay. It will reach and make sense to the people who need to experience it and understand. Art is communication, and not all communication is intended to be interpreted by all people.
Regardless, it stands on its own as an aesthetically pleasing work of art, so I hope that anyone who engages with the work will have a pleasurable experience without feeling that it is necessary to comprehend the piece.
This film is intended to be an initiatory experience of its own and is offered without elaboration upon the themes and symbols. For those who desire a complete explanation can read the walkthrough guide:
Walkthrough Guide for the Film “CHRYSALIS”
– A nude woman from behind standing in front of a statue of Satan and wearing a jacket that says “Lucifer”
– This represents all of the things of the Earth that bind us to our false impressions of self.
– The Alpha and Omega are separated at this point. Divided by Satan’s self-examination and the pleasures of the flesh. There is no balance or unity.
– The seven colors on her jacket are the seven phases that she will descend through in the next scenes.
– Static noise at a high volume with static that decreases in volume. When I begin to lose consciousness due to a medical emergency, I hear a ringing in my ears and static. The sounds increase until I am unconscious. This sequence of sounds is reversed in the movie, indicating that we just came from an emergency situation and are going backward in time.
– Soldier in white against white light posts. The androgynous soldier is just one of many objects standing erect. She blends in and has no identity of her own.
– Close up of the soldier. We see that she has no obvious facial features. She has no identity. She is white and lost in the purity of her collective identity.
– Inverted pentagram rank insignia. This indicates that she is of the Earth. Part of the lower sphere of consciousness often associated with “Satan”. It is also the direction of her movement. Everything after this, before she is reconstituted in the womb of the tomb, is a descent. It is a colorless silver/grey.
Third through ninth scenes:
– Her movement: she walks backward in every scene and the footage is reversed so that it appears as though she is moving forward. She is literally moving forward in reverse.
– Her direction of movement: she moves from, and to, a different point in each scene. If you were to map these out, you would see that she is moving in a counter-clockwise direction. This indicates her descent through color and sound.
– The colors: she descends through the color spectrum.
– The sounds: the sounds match the frequencies of the colors. She descends through the audible spectrum.
– Her position in the frame: her position is lower and lower in each frame.
– The angle of the camera: the camera height was lowered in each scene from above head height to resting it on the floor in the last scene.
– The zoom of the camera: the camera gets closer to each scene so that she fills more of the frame.
– The art: the art in the background goes from very modern – The Berlin Wall, to very ancient – “Mummies from ancient Egypt that are several thousand years old. The art also represents different phases in the process of alchemy from a variety of cultures around the world. For example, the old Chinese drawing is “The Taoist Immortals”. One of the paintings is “The Wedding of the Virgin”. In addition to this, she goes from crossing behind
some of the art to crossing in front of the art.
– She stands at attention, then goes to parade rest (military postures). She consents to the process of destruction and awaits her fate. The first appearance of the ruffians
– The Ruffians first appear against a vine-lined wall, this is the Eastern wall of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (East is the rising sun and birth) but the camera faces West (West represents death and the setting sun) upon which is a picture of the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
– The soundtrack is a voice intoning the sound “AUM.
– The Ruffians are from Freemasonic Lore.
– The name of each ruffian ends in a sound that corresponds with the word “AUM”; JubelA, JubelO, and JubeluM.
– Each of the three sounds in AUM represents a process governed by one of the Hindu trinity;
Brahma – Creation – A
Vishnu – Sustainment – U
Shiva – Destruction – M
– Therefore each of the three Ruffians represents an aspect of each of the Hindu trinity. Combined they form the complete formula of AUM and fulfill the duties and work of the divine.
The stripping and death of the soldier/initiate:
– She is stripped bare and reduced to just her body. Her outer layer, the uniform that defined her, is gone.
– Each Ruffian uses a different builder’s tool to strike injury. The tools to mold the Earth represent the Earthly aspects of the Gods as they mold mankind. In this instance, they are destroying the soldier so that she can be reborn anew without an identity bound in uniforms, names, eras, and labels.
– The Ruffians strike her heart, her throat, and her head – her feelings, her expressions, and her thoughts. This leaves her with nothing.
– We are left in blackness. We have become nothing. From the blackness, a crescendo of static and a high pitched noise emerge.
– We quickly, and without warning, are awakened from darkness to see a woman in a white robe holding a lantern and giving the sign of silence/sign of Harpocrates.
– The white robe and lantern are the purity of the inner light.
– The sign of harpocrates is used in some secret societies to represent the first degree of initiation.
Descent through the tomb
– We follow the lantern through the tomb opening, through the offering chamber, and past the crypt where Osiris rules the underworld.
The figure in black
– The soundtrack is the word IAO, which is a formula for the process of Isis, Apophis, and Osiris as exemplified in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Isis represents Nature, ruined by Apophis, the destroyed, and restored to life by the Redeemer Osiris.
– The figure in black stands in front of Osiris, God of change and of the underworld, as she gives “The Sign of Osiris Slain”, and the camera pans down into the crypt.
– The camera goes black again. This is our final descent.
– The camera fades in on the bones in the crypt then moves upward.
– The figure in black stands in front of the mural of Osiris and gives “The Sign of Osiris Risen”
The ascent through the tomb
– The figure reappears in a white robe with a pentagram on the front. This time the Pentagram is a single point up. It is the opposite of what she wore on her uniform. She is now on a higher plane and leading her new Self to incarnation. It is red, the color of vital life, and points upward indicating her coming ascent into a new life.
– She holds a rose cross and entices the white-robed infant to follow her with the rose cross.
The rose cross is an ancient mystical symbol.
– The child exits the tomb and we hear him start to cry in the soundtrack. The crying begins just
as he exits the threshold of the tomb. This represents the child leaving the womb and crying
– The child is attracted to the Rose Cross. He takes his first breaths and makes his first sounds.
He attains the rose cross and achieves the equilibrium that was lacking on the title card.
– Alive and vibrant in a sea of growing greenery, the child is born alive and explores his Earthly
environment with fresh eyes. He touches and ingests the earth.
– The soldier was female and Asian. The child is male and Middle Eastern/Hispanic/Caucasian. This demonstrates that we are not our outer flesh and that through the processes of stress, putrefaction, and recombination of our elements, we can maintain our essential Self while discarding the old and taking on new forms. We are informed by the past, not bound to it.
The final scene after the credits roll
– The sound is a crescendo of Hindu monks in the worship of the Divine Mother, whose womb, disguised as a tomb, we just left in order to become cleansed and regenerated as something new and different than we were before.
– The visual is the total completion of the cycle and the attainment of the highest knowledge – Yeshua. Yeshua is the “unspeakable name of God” to people of the Jewish faith and to those who practice Kabbalah. In the center of the letters, Yod He Vau He the letter Shin is placed, making is “Yeshua”. The three branches of the letter shin represent the three dimensions of the human being, the triune nature of God, the three patriarchs, the three pillars, the Jewish Messiah, and the world that is to come. This makes Yeshua a complete, unified, and balanced formula that completes the cycle we started with the opening title card where the Alpha and Omega was separate and incomplete, and knowledge was based on Earth, not spirit.
There are other alchemical, psychological, and initiatory meanings and interpretations to this film, but these are the main points. The explanation above specifically relates to the initiatory and personally transformative alchemical processes that I undertook as a way to “become human” again after leaving the Army, and that I came to understand in dealing with a chronic and degenerative disability.
© CHRYSALIS – All rights reserved.
Alone on a desolate planet. Or is he?
This experimental lo-fi sci-fi, shot on super 8 film, charts a voyage through space to another world. Although the monsters may lie much closer to home…
Props from the film were also used by David Bowie’s production team for his penultimate music video, ‘Blackstar’.
The film was painstakingly edited by hand, using optical effects to create an authentic, vintage style.
Ben Barton: Director
Michael Slade: Key Cast
K.B. Gibson: Key Cast
Film Type: Experimental, Short
Genres: Sci-Fi, Mystery, Experimental, Short
Runtime: 9 minutes 25 seconds
Completion Date: January 30, 2017
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Country of Filming: United Kingdom
Film Language: English
Shooting Format: Super 8
“I was so lucky that production of this film coincided with David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’. When his team contacted us about hiring the spacesuit we had reserved for the production, we were happy to help him out. In return, he funded our little film. I was delighted. Of course, at the time we didn’t know it would be his final project before he died. So it’s bittersweet, in a way. But I’m happy to be connected with that amazing legacy.”
© Stella Erratica – All rights reserved.