|from top: Dracula; O Brother Where Art Thou?|
Three sisters --- immovable power.. the magic number...the trinity. A solid bloc of womanhood where sisters can't help but become witches.
|9 to 5|
Why three? Two women can be turned on one another; four women get lost in chatter; but three, should they stand united, cannot fall. No man, nor army, can stand up to them. They might be killed by Nazis, but they can't be stood up to. They represent a feminine solidarity - an unknowable, strange concentration of feminine power. Three allows both intimacy and group dynamics without being bound to the pitfalls of either. This facilitates a rare and magic alchemical union of three souls that can become more than the sum of their parts.
|top: Heavenly Creatures, Meet Me in Saint Louis, Macbeth (2006)|
There are groups of four sisters in the movies -- Meet Me in Saint Louis, Little Women, but they never quite rise to the thrize; they mute each other out with over-talking and end up surrendering to one leader, i.e. Jo or Judy, rather than the perfect interaction of equal parts that is the number of three. With three there is constant support and competition. Each can take a part that leads to a calculated whole. Two and they get too conspiratorial and overly intimate, a kind of straight same sex pair bond that gets incestuous with no link left for the outside world. Four and it's practically a party. Three / is the magic number. There's always room for us to imagine stepping in and seducing one, but never shattering their connection.
1. The 3 Foxy Granddaughters in Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Even fans of Spielberg's perhaps best film have some qualms about the framing narrative involving the elderly Ryan staggering possessed and gut-broken through Arlington, his wife, daughter and three hot granddaughters walking behind from a respectful distance, like they're following a drunken baby on his first brace of steps. We never get to linger our gaze but that girl in the center with the pink tight pants and lavender shirt naturally hooks our attention.
The power of the three daughters is employed the same way it is below, for Inglourious Basterds
but on the opposite end. Ryan's own children (flanking the girls) seem surly and preoccupied but these three granddaughters--faces blank from easy comfort and suburban securit--seem to sense that their ease-of-living is the result of this strange man's sacrifice. Whatever's on his mind, it's affected their survival in ways they innately sense more than consciously know. One look at them and you know they've never been lost in the woods or fought against huns or starved in attics or hid, terrified, under floorboards. Their soft colors and serne health bespeaks Ryan's life as a success -- the 'wealth of feminin-American' What they lack in sophistication they make up for in un-trampled surface sensuality.
2. The three darker-haired dairy farmer daughters in Inglourious Basterds (2009)
The daughters here are much darker in lighting and mood and represent the other end of the timeline, the cautionary 'before' to the Ryan's granddaughters' 'after.' Ingeniously, Quentin and Waltz make Hans Landa a cultured intellectual, a superficially charming and meticulous man, his greetings to the lovely daughters, kissing the hand of the prettiest and saddest--a redhead who looks down at him (he's shorter) with eyes lidded to hide her weary terror--belie that he represents the evil that has created the tension of both films, and here we see what life would be like for any nervous father with three beautiful young daughters in an occupied country run by genocidal thugs, no matter how cultured their ranking officer.
In both films their sororal trinity represents a bloc of feminine innocence any father or grandfather would lay down his life to protect, and, worse still, must sometimes lay down the life of others as well --eminently harder.
|Top: Clash of the Titans (2010) / Macbeth (1948)|
'Power of Three' has to do with Alchemy. The Egyptian god Thoth or the Greek Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice Blessed or Thrice Great) are the progenitors of the Emerald Tablets describing the mysteries of Alchemy. The alchemy of three is demonstrated by its power of multiplicity. For example, in understanding the numbers - One gave rise to Two (1+1=2) and Two gave Rise to Three (2+1=3) and Three gave rise to all numbers (3+1=4, 3+2=5, 3+3=6, 3+4=7, 3+5=8 3+6=9). Thus in addition to being a number of good fortune, Three is also the number of multiplicity and alchemy among other things. Many believe the Triquetrais an ancient symbol of the female trinity, because it is composed of three interlaced yonic Vesica Pisces (a.k.a. PiscisSLatin for "Vessel of the Fish") and is the most basic and important construction in Sacred Geometry, which is the architecture of the universe. A Vesica is formed when the circumference of two identical circles each pass through the center of the other in effect creating a portal. 'The Triquetra' represents the 'Power of Three' or the threefold nature of existence i.e. body, mind and spirit; life, death and rebirth; past, present and future; beginning, middle and end; Sun, Moon and Earth; and the threefold co-creative process described as thought, word, and deed." (Crystalinks)
There's numerous examples of the three sisters in television but may favorite are the three evil (or are they?) genius Russian sisters of Alias. One is Sidney Bristo's mother, a former KGB agent, the other two are even more insidious and deadly. The great thing about this early J.J. Abrams show is that his full attention seems to be on it--at least in the first four seasons--so the level of intelligence--the layering of allegiance and identity--astounds. If there's ever some secret we learn about them, it's because they want us to know it, and so therefore it's probably not true.
- 20. Thence come the maidens
- mighty in wisdom,
- Three from the dwelling
- down 'neath the tree;
- Urth is one named,
- Verthandi the next,--
- On the wood (runes) they scored,--
- and Skuld the third.
- Laws they made there,
- and life allotted
- To the sons of men,
- and set their fates
- -- Vafþrúðnismál
- (My capsule reviews for all three seasons)
- CHARLIE'S ANGELS
If you can stand its mounting panic attack quiet, Ingmar Bergman's ultimate depressant CRIES AND WHISPERS pays off with a tragic series of events that among other things would stand as a good argument for gay marriage. It's Sweden at the turn of the century during the endless nights of winter, and Nordic depression make isolation in red rooms (!!) a matter of being so far past the realms of time and space that you feel caught like a fly in the manic-depressive ointment that's been the Swedish birthright since the Ice Age.
And we learn, presumably, the origin story of all subsequent auteurs' genital self-mutilation fascinations, i.e. ANTICHRIST, BLACK SWAN and THE PIANO TEACHER; and out of the weird symbiotic passing of traits between the two living sisters at the climax comes, if nothing else, Altman's 3 WOMEN. CRIES is one of Bergman's more unflinchingly bleak films but made with shocking confidence, and not a drop of music. It's so quiet we can hear people breathing from whole rooms away and each toll of a clock resounds through the red rooms like a John Donne mortal dis-encoiler.
But also it's a film for anyone who loves powerhouse acting: there's some malevolent depressive monologues so bitter they make Woody Allen's tepid INTERIORS--clearly a homage to this film--seem like one of his"earlier, funny ones." HANNAH AND HER SISTERS is a better option but to me it's always seemed a little more Rohmer than Bergman-esque. Then again, I quote Max Von Sydow's role nonstop. "I do not sell my art by the yard!"
Maurice Chevalier, nothing but a tailor, endears himself to the wins the instant approval of these three spinster aunts, who recognize him as the prince they've been conjuring into existence for their sex-starved princess niece, drawing him towards her via an alchemical spell they've undertaken to cure their princess of her 'fainting' condition, a knight riding to her dream rescue, "as he never did for us." Unlike the uncle's stuffing of the estate with elderly dead bridge players, short and comic royal suitors, and geriatric footmen, to keep his two randy charges--Charlie Ruggles and sexy Myrna Loy--prisoner in this vast cavernous place, while waiting for the princess to be rescued first, and man like the suitors in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, we want to find the princess a worthy husband too, so we can move in on sweet nymph Myrna. Meanwhile, the three ladies express their woes at being marginalized on the fringe of the biological molten dam of forward rolling generational magma, but they have a good time, keeping each other clucking and laughing, and working their old maid alchemy.
8-9 - The Three Mothers -- The Black Cat, Suspiria, Inferno, Mother of Tears
These ladies on the other hand brook no sass or umbrage. Fathomlessly old and evil, they feed off the psychic energy of youth, and leave breadcrumb clues to draw innocent blood to them, like gingerbread house flippers.
10. Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer - The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
But these ladies are too sexy to brook anything else.
Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy in Hocus Pocus (1993)
And these, who knows? Too PG to be too sexy, yet at least one rocks per three:
|Rose McGowan, Alysa Milano, Holly Marie Combs - Charmed|
|The Three Weird Sisters from 90s kid cartoon Gargoyles.|
12. The Manson sisters; Sharon Tate, Patty Duke and Barbara Parkins - The Valley of the Dolls (1967)
Maybe it's the height of bad taste to link these two sets of sisters together, since the Manson girls are responsible for the slaying of Valley star Sharon Tate in one of the grisliest high-profile crimes of the era. But given the subject matter of Valley of the Dolls it makes sense. We should remember that 'dolls' means Valium, the designer drug of choice for the pampered but hard-working LA elite. As that crushing song by Andre and Dory Previn sinks any last trace of hope, the girls rise and fall and die for love and limelight -- only one makes it out, by moving home (New England) for the winter, and getting respectable. Patty Duke falls off the wagon and ends up freaking out in a backstage alleyway that seems like the bottom of a deep tomb (echoing the kind of outdoor night interiority director Mark Robson must have picked up working for Val Lewton); and Sharon Tate ODs once she realizes she'll never be free of her grubbing manipulative, soul-crushing mom who doesn't care her daughter has to do Eurosleaze to pay her diseased husband's medical bills - she wants money! When the three 'sisters' stand together they are strong, but they don't stand together that often and even when they do we worry show business will chew them up and spit them out, use them for sex, dub it into French, and their gigolo boyfriends will piss away the royalties.
Where will we / how will we / learn who we are now?
Sisters help us, the charm's unwound.