“As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” — Hermes Trismegistus
As Above So Below Original Summary
As above so below be careful…
Archaeologist Scarlett Marlowe has devoted her whole life to finding one of history’s greatest treasures: Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone. According to legend, the artifact can grant eternal life and turn any metal into gold.
When she learns that the stone is hidden underground in the Catacombs of Paris, she assembles a crew to guide and document her historic mission. As they begin their descent, the team members have no way of knowing that they are entering their own personal hell. — Google
An Above Style of Filming
Ever since The Blair Witch Project documentary style type of filming and the arrival of the Gopro cameras, many movies, especially in the horror and thriller department, we see self-filming movies rising.
As Above So Below, despite its documentary style, has excellent steady filming. The scenery of each scene is easy to follow. The presentation of the main character, Scarlett, as you would see in any official History Channel documentary, reflects the entire movie’s ambiance.
The choice was careful and thriving in the style of the movie. The search for the one dream alchemist stone with multiple doctorates and master’s degrees university professor would be through the camera of a documentary.
Assemble The Heist!
Scarlett is following her father’s footsteps in search of the Flamel Philosopher’s Stone with the help of his research and hypothesis. We learn that many thought he lost his mind and turned to a lunatic before taking his own life.
His daughter and professor, Scarlett, stops at no obstacle to finishing amassing all the information she needs to prove his father’s life work to be true.
The movie even starts with her alone in Iran going in a tunnel with an entrance hidden in one of her father’s friends’ house. All she wants is to scan the Rose Key Statue acting as a Rosetta Stone for what’s to come before the tunnels blow up.
Throughout the entire movie, Scarlett shows to what ends she is ready to go—even break the law to prove her father was right. She goes to museums, finds secret emplacements, steals, takes pictures of what she shouldn’t. As a result, she hurt her closest friends along the way, including George.
However, to find the tunnels needed to find the stone, he helps her find a stranger who mentions a catacombs expert named Papillon. With a full team of six people, they are ready for the mission. As above so below be careful not to find hell.
But How Do One Finds A Philosopher Stone?
What we know from the movie is that the Philosopher’s Stone is the “grail” of all alchemists, considering it a source of immortal life. From a notebook Scarlett carries with her—most likely from her father, there is information dating from the early alchemist.
Alchemy is the pseudoscience from back in the day when the earliest scientist believed they could change a sample rock into gold. It was the first days of chemistry but also belief in a bigger picture.
As part of the notebook was a page where alchemists created a vision of what they thought to be the distance between Heaven, Earth, and Hell.
To conclude this distance, they based it on the number associated with the Devil. No, it is not 666 but 741. As above so below be careful because the Devil doesn’t mess around with numbers either!
With the number 741 in mind, Scarlett and George deduced that 371 feet below their feet would be “Hell.” If they can be at the exact emplacement beneath the tablet from the museum where she found the key, the Philosopher Stone would also be there. But what route could they use?
What Is The Philosopher Stone?
Historically, the Philosopher’s Stone dates back to 300 AD. However, some like Elias Ashmole, dare say that the Philosopher’s Stone goes back to Adam as in Adam & Eve.
God gave Adam the knowledge of the stone and shared from father to son in the biblical patriarchy.
The stone would give them longevity and would be linked to the Temple of Solomon even. More information on this particular speculation is in Psalm 118.
We can also find some more historical possibilities of the stone in Plato’s work. He mentioned that four elements come from one master element, the Prima Materia or First Matter equalling chaos. To the alchemist, the First Matter is the prime ingredient needed to create the Philosopher Stone.
“The first matter of the stone is the very same with the first matter of all things.”Thomas Vaughan
Deep Below The Catacombs
In France, the catacomb is a maze of two thousand miles of tunnels that hides over six million bodies decayed to their bones.
The team goes off the grid of the touristic guide by following Papillon and his team to find the chamber hiding the one Philosopher Stone and its treasure. As above so below be careful sins are the same up and down.
Signs such as “Arrête c’est ici l’empire de la mort” translated to Stop, here is the empire of the dead, and “Au son de la trompette les morts ressusciteront.” meaning At the sound of the trumpet the dead will resurrect. can bring goosebumps.
The last sign can read, “Ossements cimetière innocents déposés en avril 1785,” meaning, Bone Cemetery of innocents laid down in April of 1785.
Facing multiple dangers by climbing down, such as lack of air, lights going off, no service, running out of water and food, getting lost, wasn’t enough to scare Scarlett.
George promised not to go below due to his claustrophobia, but can’t bring himself to leave Scarlett or stay when cops attack Papillon and his team.
Dead Will Resurrect or Guilt?
George’s claustrophobia came from his guilt when his little brother died in a cave drowned in the water. He promised he would come back with help, but it was too late.
Walking more rooted in, George tries to keep his head cool and helps with many translations along the way as Aramaic surfaces.
The catacombs show much graffiti on the walls. It broke my heart since those tunnels are old and represent a dark moment in time.
We then notice people in the middle of some sort of somber ceremony, as Papillon mentions many people are weird down there. As above so below be careful one might find people they thought they lost!
Strange noises and objects start to appear like an old phone ringing. After Papillon explains that Paris used to pass phone lines through the catacombs, they removed them fifty years ago.
Yet, in a room, a vintage phone is ringing. In another place, a piano covered in dust reminds George how he used to play it with his younger brother. As above so below be careful guilt is the same.
The Only Way Up Is Going Down
The feeling of claustrophobia as the team goes through narrow tunnels and the ceiling rising and shrinking as they walk feels real.
They crawl through piles of bones, swim through small tunnels of water while screams and hellish noises crawl up their ears.
We can easily recognize signs of mass hysteria spreading as the team realizes there might be no way out. The lead, Papillon, does not remember the way they followed despite using his usual passage. Somehow they end up somewhere they couldn’t go.
Rooms using the Ancient Egyptian padlock system leaving Scarlett and George figuring out the functional historical equation to free them from one place to the next.
Philosopher Stone or enotS rehposolihP
The entire movie revolves not just around the team finding the room with the Philosopher Stone but also getting out of the catacombs. Many signs alchemists used over the centuries show up in the movie as a way for Scarlett and George to decode.
“According to mythology, that is the inscription over the Gates of Hell.”Scarlett Marlowe, As Above So Below, 2014
In fact, that quote comes from Dante’s Inferno. So many little details bring you back to the classic that is Inferno. The up is down and down is up the circles of hell, each circle representing a different sin.
Everything mirrored, Scarlett and George know the stone must return to its original place.
If you didn’t watch the movie As Above So Below yet, you must! If you read Dante’s Inferno, you can notice every little detail from the purgatory of La Taupe to the greed that led Papillon to agree to Scarlett’s term and refusal to admit his guilt when faced by his deepest guilt.
You can even understand why they keep going down to the belly of hell, where all gravity is turned upside down. In the end, hell is what we create from within. Sinful or not, it is guilt that keeps us in hell because of …well, as above so below be careful!
I give it 8.5/10.