I’ve been talking a great deal about both ‘The Americans’ and ‘Westworld’ lately, mostly to anyone who can’t make me shut up about them. A friend mentioned the term ‘apophenia‘ to me — a word I’d never come across before. It is used to describe the mind’s tendency (more pronounced in some than in others) to notice patterns and meaning where there might well be none at all.
Think Jesus In The Toast (or pareidolia) but for concepts or narratives. Westworld (HBO) is great for this. “Maeve is Neo, Dolores is Morpheus, Ed Harris is Agent Smith, and the whole thing is The Matrix”, I thought the other day. Or as I have already promulgated, the whole palaver is a Marxist/Leninist parable.
Here’s another pattern for you that might just be in my mind.
In 1968, ultimate cinematic good guy Henry Fonda played the amoral Frank in Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon A Time in the West‘. In 1973, fresh off reprising his much-adored (for the time) role as the King of Siam in the 1972 sitcom (you read that right) Anna and The King, Yul Brynner played The Gunslinger — both a bad guy and a bad robot. In the current HBO reimagination of Westworld, everyone’s trustworthy mission control guy Ed Harris plays the Man In Black — a man who doesn’t simply want to watch the world burn — he wants to prove that it can even catch alight at all.
Notice any similarities in these three actors cast against type in the late stages of their careers? Just me then? OK.
EDIT: No, it’s not just me. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/westworld-exclusive-jonathan-nolan-lisa-joy-once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-season-1-season-2-a8039991.html
P.S: Watch Once Upon A Time In The West already.