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ASSASSIN'S CREED. Justin Kurzel, dir. Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage (script, "Based on the video game series created by" Corey May et al.). Andy Nicholson, production design. UK, France, Hong Kong, USA: Regency Enterprises, New Regency Pictures et al. (prod.) / 20th Century Fox Film Corporation (US dist.), 2016; see IMDb entry for complex production financing and various corporate forms of 20th-C. Fox for international distribution.[1] Michael Fassbender (as present-day Cal Lynch, and 15th-c. Aguilar), Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, featured players.

The A-List cast — Michael Fassbender is #46 on IMDb's STARmeter the week of the films' release — and the film's sheer heft in terms of production costs and visibility, require it to be taken more seriously than negative critical response and relatively tepid audience enthusiasm would indicate. Relevant here for the Animus device, which, according to the first young-adult American male Rich Erlich encountered exiting the theater (the ticket taker), is the portal for a player into the Assassin's Creed game. According to the first Assassin's Creed fan site to come up in a Google search, in the game the Animus is "a projector which renders genetic memories in three dimensions" or, more formally stated, "The Animus (plural: Animi) is a virtual reality machine [… that] allows the user to read a subject's genetic memory,[2] and project it onto an external screen in three dimensions."[3]

In the game, the subject of the Animus VR experience sits in what can be pictured as a modern dentist's chair, which Justin Curzel thought would render the VR visuals "passive and inert," with Michael Fassbender's Cal Lynch "in this chair with his eyes fluttering." Instead, in the film the Animus is "a giant mechanical arm and holographic lights to help represent the genetic memories its accessing in the user."[4] In the film, Cal Lynch is grasped and moved about by the cybernetically-controlled mechanical arm, adding motion to his VR experiences, which are mostly combat. Since he is frequently or always bare-chested, we routinely see not only the grasp of the mechanical arm but Lynch's connection to the large machine through a port penetrating his body where his neck joins his back, apparently penetrating between the lowest of the cervical and highest of the thoracic vertebrae. When we're not within the VR world itself — (re)living Aguilar's real experiences in that world — we see Fassbender's body moving among quick-flash projections of Aguilar's world while being physically hauled about by a computer-operated giant mechanical arm while his central nervous system is in intimate communication with a device whose name suggests "animus" as hostility and the "Animus" of Jungian psychology, "a masculine inner personality," at least in women.[5] The plot of the film involves a violent quest for the Apple of Eden explicitly related to free will and disobedience, and the antagonists in the film are an ahistorical Knights Templar who apparently controlled much of the Spanish Inquisition — and imagery of the Roman Catholic upper hierarchy; so Cal Lynch in the Animus device should provide an image of both constraint and power serving as an objective correlative for something related to free will vs. control and a degree of surveillance that is decorous in sequences showing the Inquisition — and in present time goes right down into one's "genetic memory." (For "Pieces of Eden in the game, see the fan wiki.[6])

RDE 28/XII/16