Stone (2010 Film) Analysis (Heavy Spoilers)

This analysis if spoiler heavy so you should watch the film before reading any part of this essay.

Because of the nature of this film I did a sequential analysis, focusing on many details. A more general approach would result in a poor essay, so bear with me.

This is one of those gems with great insight on psychological/spiritual themes which most people and critics completely fail to see and so they find it utterly boring and non-sensical. For those who have bothered to walk on the road of Self-hood it’s a total different story and see this film for what it really is: A true gem amongst the bullshit. In fact this movie contains a degree of occultism in its details.

This is a personal interpretation of it and I may be stretching things too far on some accounts. I’ll mix the interpretation I give to the film with the dynamics I see happening within societies.

In the opening scene you get a taste of what is to come. It shows the typical married couple which remains together not because of love, but because of duty. However any relationships that starts or continues because of duty is doomed to fail and it doesn’t even have to end in divorce or the couple getting separated.

In this first scene you can also see a touch of psychological dependence and psychological sadism. Jack’s wife let’s him know that she’s frustrated with the relationship, in fact she goes as far as saying that Jack is keeping her soul in a dungeon. You can see Jack’s level of sadism/dependence when he threatens to throw their daughter through the window if  Madelyn ever dares to break free, after his wife submits Jack cries and begs her not to leave, a clear sign of psychological dependence.

After Jack’s speech at his brother’s funeral you see a scene where a radio broadcast is being transmitted and a philosophical debate of sorts take place, but it has a religious tone along the lines of free will, it is accompanied by an opinion on the current (film timeline) situation in the USA.

Next comes the first interaction (that we are shown) between Jack and Stone who are the main characters and the main Archetypal structures within the film. Stone is clearly frustrated by having the same talk again while Jack serves as a gatekeeper towards freedom. You can project this dynamic to a broader social level where people are expected to please the gatekeepers of the system ( big and small, parents or CEOS) to have a shot in life… Yeah, bend over and take it, because if you don’t then you’ll rot in hell and be a complete failure in Lemming Land.

After the interaction between Jack and Stone is over you can see a brief scene where Jack is driving and listening to the same radio station I mentioned earlier and this are the words which are spoken: “Man looks on the outward appearance. God looks on the heart and certainly the heart of a man does matter because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”. Keep this brief sentence in mind.

After Jack leaves the store you hear the broadcast again: “Only in the choices that God decides to present to us” Host: “Well , no, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that I just believe that we’re automatons”.

Notice that when Jack is picking up the mail he watches two young lovers, perhaps a reminder of how his relationship with his wife used to be when it started. Perhaps that’s how most people begin their relationships, pure bliss and innocence.

Radio Broadcast: “…And here’s the deal: I did not choose to be born and I cannot choose to be born again, I had no choice in the matter whatsoever, and yet there are so many people who think they have a choice in the matter of their spiritual rebirth and their spiritual transformation. The fact of the matter is, a seed is planted and conception takes place, which you had nothing to do with.”

When you see the second interaction between Jack and Stone you can tell that for the most part it’s just protocol, but almost at the end Jack is so frustrated the he says: “… It’s almost like I’ve been reborn, man”. Jack actually takes interest in this last bit and asks Stone: “What does that mean to you, being reborn?” Stone just has a WTF expression and the scene ends. Notice how the last bit is related one radio broadcasts and also notice how Stone begs to be treated like a person/human, another bit which is related to the series of radio broadcasts.

Notice that after Lucetta visits Stone, he glimpses a man reading the Bible and then sets out to read books which cover different religions, apparently he ends up disappointed until a particular pamphlet catches his attention: “The Power of Zukangor” and he actually manages to find the whole book.

At some point in the film you see Stone asking Jack about the Zukangor thing, of course for Jack is just mambo jumbo, he belong to some christian sect. What should be noticed here most of all is the part where Stone affirms that this Zukangor thing needs no priest, no religion and that in fact is a personal thing. Have this in mind.

Later on Jack is telling his problems to a priest, you can tell Jack has a deep existential crisis and it’s desperately seeking for some meaning, something to ground him. He hoped that going to church constantly would alleviate his pain. The priest has no fucking clue whatsoever as to what advice to give to his faithful servant, but there is one phrase he utters which has an immense meaning: “Be still and know that I’m God”. Sadly the priest just repeats the phrase like a trained parrot and has no idea of the esoteric power this little phrase has, more on it later.

Notice that so far Stone has shown signs of psychological dependence on Lucetta who will do anything to see her husband being released from prison. Oh and Stone is also trying to incorporate the teachings of Zukangor, but there’s just too much noise. Notice how in many scenes there’s a lot of noise surrounding the characters, this something to which you should pay close attention.

Lucetta manages to convince Jack to meet up with her outside his office by acting seductive, a total manipulator. Jack falling for it comes as no surprise since he’s in agony, trying to bring a thrill to his life and besides, his marriage has lost any and all things which could be considered lively and Lucetta may be the one who brings a sexual thrill into his wreck of a life.

Fast forward a bit and you’ll have a pivotal moment. Stone is having a meal in the dining hall, there’s a lot of noise around him… and suddenly the noise stops and Stone it’s very happy about it.

Radio Broadcast: “Sin comes naturally to us from our birth. It’s inbred in us. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. Even if you lived a life of perfect righteousness, you deserve hell. You know why? Because {All of our righteousness} Isaiah says, are as filthy rags”. This particular broadcast in tremendously important, especially when you see Jack listening to it, it fits perfectly.

Jack who has tried to live his life in perfect righteousness, who keeps the system running is a sinner. Yeah of course he is, all his life has been devoted to duty, effectively killing his own humanity, why on Earth would he deserve Heaven? He has paid dearly for it and in fact he’s living his own personal Hell. No human being who has thrown away his humanity in exchange for duty and badges from the system gatekeepers deserves paradise, for he uses righteousness as a filthy mask, says the gospel of Self-hood.

Next you have another crucial point. Jack is already breaking the walls of the mundane world and looking at deeper meanings, he asks a question to Lucetta about eternity and as you would expect, she looks completely lost and wonders what the hell is wrong with Stone. She gets upset when she let’s Stone know how his case is progressing, but his into bigger things already and couldn’t care less about it. Lucetta has a breakdown and at this point it becomes clear as day that Lucetta is an approval junkie apart from being an emotional manipulator, your typical psychic vampire case.

In that particular scene you can see a general dynamic taking place. Society is full of people who will do anything in order to get their badge of honour from their peers, bosses, overlords and what have you and will break whenever the approval they seek is denied

. On the other hand you have Stone, the Archetypal model for the human being who is trying to break the walls of their inner prison, a human who is already looking beyond the mundane and robotic idiocy of humanity, he’s also building psychological immunity towards the energy sucking people.

Radio Broadcast: “Is the Kingdom of Heaven… you think it should be a peaceful Kingdom and we should all get along? That’s great, but is it just going to be a constant struggle to have The Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth?”

In the next interaction Stone is trying to figure a way to explain to people what he’s experiencing, the problem being that other people have no frame of reference so it’s very difficult to convey such an experience. This is a natural happening when you are starting to break the bullshit you are constantly fed and the one you are constantly creating, but it’s not something that society teaches so it’s bloody hard to explain it to other people and in fact many get pissed off and think you are trying to play mind games with them, which is what Deniro’s character showed in the film.

Now I may be looking too deep, but notice that Stone changed his hairstyle. I feel this is a symbolic act, his previous hairstyle (don’t know what the proper term in english is) was a sign of co-dependence, after all he had it because Lucetta wanted him to have it and Stone was very dependent on her until recently. So in a symbolic way Stone has broken that co-dependence in his relationship.

It’s also worth noting that Stone doesn’t care anymore about Jack’s approval. He has an important realization when he tells Jack that he’s not a big fan of staying in prison, but he also knows that he’s gonna deal with the exact same bullshit once he’s released. That’s how the world functions at large, a prison the size of the planet full of dissociated people who are too worried about being righteous enough to get their little awards.

Oh before it slips my mind, notice the reaction Deniro’s character has when Stone tells him that he doesn’t care what anybody else is trying to make him do (Deniro). Jack gets angry at this and denies that someone is making do X or Y. This is your average Joe in today’s world, people who follow the chain of command like a good Lemming while at the same time has delusions of freedom and independence. If you’d ask people on the street if someone else has power over their lives, they would deny it, but as Edward Bernays did let people know: (not that many give a shit)

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

Talk about hearing incessant noise in your head.

Radio Broadcast: “You can take great comfort in that, but that can be a false comfort. Sometimes in the twilight of a civilization, there can be a great cultural flowering, but in reality, there are cracks in the foundation of that society and that society is doomed.”

True words indeed. We have had mask after mask in every civilization that has risen and fallen. The mask of progress, the mask of sanity, the mask of intelligence. We think ourselves very sophisticated because we have etiquette, universities, laws and technological advancement… yet our foundation, which ultimately is our own psyche, our very Self and it has cracks in it, some people have a completely dissociated psyche, broken people. A society full of dissociated people is doomed all right.

Later on the film Stone finally tells Jack how he felt the night he burned the house along with his dead grandparents. He has a new perspective on the event now that he has made true personal progress. This is another symbolic event which represents the burning of old structures, letting go of that which hinders your evolution as a human. It’s an inner fire which eventually consumes your rigid perceptions, your traumas, your toxic relationships… it is something which makes you feel alive, you are reborn.

Jack get’s pissed off when Stone let’s him know how Lucetta is just toying with him. Indeed she’s an emotional manipulator looking for control. Well the world is full of those people, isn’t it? Those folks who lack any inner center and therefore have to manipulate others with their little schemes. They are so dependent, so pathological that they’ll look for a thrill which takes their anxiety and desperation away, even if it is for a little while. Perhaps a little game of seduction, perhaps a little bit of control, perhaps fucking a little while.

In his anger Jack recognizes how plastic his life is, how utterly boring and repetitive he is… but he has no idea what to do about it. Stone tells him to burn his motherfucking life, to let go of whatever asphyxiating situation he finds himself in. However, Jack thinks that’s utter bollocks and well… he’s extremely dependent on his meaningless routine and his meaningless relationship with his wife.

Scene between Madelyn and Jack: “Did you know you started out as a stone? Your soul, it started out as a mineral or a pebble and then it was reincarnated as a plant, then as a fish, birds, animals and so on. You had to work your way up to being a human. Do you know what it’s been doing to your Soul? It’s been paying debts, past sins from past lives, reducing its burden from one life to the next.” You can see that it’s “The Power of Zukangor” pamphlet and Madelyn tells Jack it was just junk mail (massive facepalm).

I may be stretching things a bit here, but this is a crucial point, when Madelyn is reading the paragraph… I’m no fan of Karmic stuff, in fact I think the common conception is full of it… but here’s my take on it, notice how the passage starts: “Did you know you started out as a Stone?” Stone is the main character and in the Alchemical tradition you will often see analogies concerning the transformation of Lead into Gold or Coal into Diamond. Both can be seen as allegories for refinement and “perfection”, in a similar vein humans are capable of transmuting their base metal (their old Self) ,which is often full of psychological problems, into a new and better version.

Nature seems to go through this process in an effortless manner, although it takes a long time. Humans also go through it, but here’s the main difference: Humans have to do it in a conscious manner. It can be a bitter-sweet process, just as you see it happening with Stone who happens to be the Archetypal model for this refinement of consciousness.

Radio Broadcast: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man open the door, I will come into him and sup with him and he with me”

For Truth will sup with anyone who is willing to knock and get to know it, for the True Self will made itself manifest to anyone who is Willing to open the Door to his/her own Unconscious.

Towards the end of the film Madelyn finally decides to burn her motherfucking life, but Jack is unable to cope with it. His whole mechanical existence is suddenly shaken and now that he’s lost his house and retired from his job he has nothing to hold unto. Some people are unable to cope with such a sudden change and will try to rationalize everything as long as it allows them to go back to their golden prison cell.

There are three things which are fundamental in the film: Jack, Stone and the series of radio broadcasts. Miss one of these elements and you’ll be completely lost.

Jack and Stone are Archetypal models. Jack is the Archetype for the average Joe/Jane who is an automaton with a meaningless life and who is dead on a psychological level. There are different degrees for it, but most of the people on this planet find themselves in a permutation of Jack’s core existential crisis and just like Jack many are seeking for some answers out there and hoping to catch a thrill which can take the pain away and subdue the numbness they feel.

Some will try to be the perfect model of righteousness and dutifulness in order to mask their pathology, seeking that little badge of honour which gives them a simulacra of worthiness. They are the perfect gatekeepers of the System and they don’t even have to be Corporate CEOS, they can be as average as Jack and they bring Hell to Earth.

A thing to notice is the constant feeling of guilt that Jack experiences. Sex is just an escape which lets him release a little bit of steam, just enough to avoid a total and explicit meltdown, but alas duty to his dead relationship gets in the way and he feels tremendous guilt and anxiety.

A lot of people find themselves in this situation, they find sex disgusting because it goes against etiquette, against religious sainthood, it’s a depravity which erases righteousness, but sex is a natural need for the psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being of a human being. So a double life full of masks may reduce the pain… The onslaught against sexuality is a big problem in itself, I explored a little bit on the topic here: Sexuality

Stone is the Archetype for the human being who actually tries to break the cycle of a meaningless existence, not just mask it with a new religion or some sexual thrill. In the beginning he’s just a permutation of Jack, a man full of distress who has no clue as to what to do with himself.

At some point he is reborn and breaks away from the Jack Archetype by actively seeking to destroy anything which hinders his progress and that included his toxic relationship with Lucetta. Sadly only a few are willing to go through Stone’s Archetypal process. A process where there is pain, a process where one has to come face to face with those inner demons… yet it’s very rewarding because it is a very liberating process which gives you psychological immunity towards society’s neurosis.

Most of the radio broadcasts are not meant to be taken in such a literal way nor are they meant to be interpreted as some organized religion jargon. They are allegories which concern the series of battles that the human being has to fight in their Inner Temple. They also point this dynamic taken to a macrocosmic level, in this case into the level of society whose foundations are completely rotten, but will use all sorts of masks. You could say you are listening esoteric christianity.

Another important detail is the constant atmosphere of noise. In one scene you see that stone finds himself listening to silence all of a sudden. Now this can be interpreted in different ways, depending on what school of thought you are using as a foundation. I’m not a big fan of “light meditation” that is to say I don’t deny the potential benefits of meditation, but not even for a second do I believe that just because you happen to meditate for a little while you reach total peace, nor do I subscribe to the idea of destroying the mind because it’s inherently evil like some new age and some eastern approaches like to teach.

So I’ll give my personal view on the concept of noise and silence within the film:

All that noise is a symbolic representation for the constant bullshit chatter in most people’s minds which is created by social conditioning and people’s own stupidity/ignorance. It’s that noise which wants you to consume stupid shit, to follow tyrannical laws, to suppress any authentic expression of yourself so you can wear a coat of righteousness and decency, the noise which makes you live in constant guilt. Stone finds himself in this situation until he tries to apply the teachings of Zukangor and he listens to silence.

In my opinion that’s not so literal, you know it’s not like you’ll go to a concert and you’ll hear absolutely nothing, rather you have spent enough energy on studying yourself and you have built so much psychological immunity that you can still hear the noise/sound, but it doesn’t affect you in any way unless you desire to be affected by it. In a sense this is an expression of authentic self-consciousness.

All in all I think the film is a brilliant mix between psychological, spiritual, esoteric and societal ideas and dynamics. It is a film which should be watched by anyone who is truly serious about walking the path of Self-hood.


About Reaver

26 year old interested in psychological, spiritual and esoteric/occult themes.

Posted on August 8, 2012, in Esoterism, Films, Psychology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. very sexy the actress

  2. Did anyone pick up on the name of person that killed Stone’s grandparent “Teach”? Stone’s wife was a teacher so I lean towards thinking it was her. Also, did Stone and Lucetta part ways at the end??

  3. A passionate and thought-provoking analysis of a predictably underrated film Thank you.

  4. Wow. Enjoyed every minute of your essay. Is it a coincidence that I just watched Stone for the 3rd time last night and alerted to your comment on a email link today ? And I had been searching desperately for the sort of in depth (to put it mildly yet at the same time nothing about your discussion is over complicated or contrived in fact it condenses a lot of details into a clear not simplistic but simple message). Geez I’m not as proficient in deriving something that I can convey succinctly but believe me I’m trying. I was thrilled that someone wrote SOMETHING that recognized the impact of this movie, broken down and then put back together in a way we could begin to discuss what it says … all it says. And I agree and yes the transformation of Stone, the shift in control (for lack of a better less trite interpretation is most definitely glaring in the new hairstyle From unoriginal and taut to free and childlike (?) Absolutely I noticed that immediately. I noticed the reaction to Stobe’s new aloofness poured out the desperate tears of a toddler where once sat the queen of seduction and control — I didn’t like that character one bit. I felt contempt that surprised me and found Stone’s term ‘alian’ kinder than many I would have used for the least attractive and dangerous similar to the cross eyed wife. (Hey why was she presented as such a scary dismal character, the tattered remains of a once beautiful devoted wife and mother to drunken madness having stayed too long at the fair (in this case more a carnival) ? A true POW released as a shell to be rebuilt. Are Stone and Jack’s wife the 2 prisoners that got away ? Of course but your evaluation does more than note the obvious take-away(s) (plural). As unsettling as I found it, I think its brilliance provokes a discussion that makes any discomfort worth the numerous viewings and thank you ! for the time you gave in reviewing it. Well worth the read.

  5. Incredible analysis. In a secular society, no wonder this movie got shit ratings. Thanks for writing.

  6. Marlene Schuman

    Your analysis does develop key themes. One scene I find out of sync tho is where Stone goes back into office upon his release and tells Jack that Lucetta had told him all she’d done w Jack. It seems to go against his evolution from inhumanity to humanity, to freeing himself. It seemed he was copping to being part of the game all along even tho he denied such at one point, no longer cared about it….suggested even Jack do what he needed. Believed.

  7. I also found interesting that Jack’s wife says that she will say to the police/firemen that the fire (purification) started at the basement RAGS.

    Remember the broadcast? “Sin comes naturally to us from our birth. It’s inbred in us. We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. Even if you lived a life of perfect righteousness, you deserve hell. You know why? Because {All of our righteousness} Isaiah says, are as filthy rags”

  8. What is self hood?

  9. Just finished this movie and I couldn’t agree more with your essay. I love movies that make you think!

  10. I basically agree with the reviewer in full. The only question I ask is, at the end, Jack is packing a bag & Lucetta is in a bar scoping out a new dude. Does Stone leave her, this city he’s apparently from & what becomes of Jack? The missus appears to just bail & goes to live with their daughter & granddaughter. What about Stone, who is heard on the radio giving the crux of the meaning of ‘Zukandor’?? Thanx!

  11. Brilliant…!! I loved it… THANK YOU

  12. I read most of what you wrote but I admit it I skimmed some hoping for a shorter simpler key to explain what I just watched for the second time with only slightly more understanding and a tiny bit less anxiety. It’s not a feel-good movie is it? The understatement of the year… I was angry at Jack’s wife this time, not because she has a terribly stuck look but because he tried a few times to break through their facade by asking ‘do you buy all this stuff?’ And I wish she’d given him an honest answer. I guess her resentment and hatred was so imbedded in her, no way to separate herself. I couldn’t stand the character of Stone’s wife. I didn’t feel sorry for her. I found her verging on evil for the damage she does moves on and there’s no stopping the harm she’ll never see and therefore never fill up no matter how many ruins in her wake. Stone evolves while Jack deteriorates while both women own nothing I I’m not resolved at all I’d love to read others

  13. This analysis was mind stimulating it had me thinking we including myself live like robots and even though some of us are religious and God fearing people we attach to something that makes us feel like we are in control of that particular IT but it is damaging r lives and relationships .You have to trans form ur mind. Thank u for this

  14. Wow, that was a really great analysis!
    I just want to add one thing:
    I believe that the insect we see at the beginning of the movie has a very symbolic meaning. The buzzing of bees is mentioned later in the movie. When Stone speaks of the noise the teachings of Zukangor were telling him about he tells Jack that it can start with a simple sound like the buzzing of a bee. He also mentions other noises but a lot of emphasis is put on the buzzing sound of this insect (through repeating this example). Now, at the beginning of the movie we see the insect being smashed to death in between the window. The moment the window smashes the insect we also hear its buzzing sounds stop. I find it difficult to make my mind up about this, but could it mean that their (Jack and Madelyn’s) connection to ‘God’ was gone? That the very moment that Madelyn decided to stay with Jack their inner battle was lost?

    I’m left with one more question:
    Madelyn tells her daughter about another time when she wanted to burn the house but didn’t. The viewers don’t get to know.
    But when was that time and what stopped her from doing it?

    Thank you,

    Ps. I realize that you posted this in 2012 and it’s 2015 but oh well….

    • madelyn wasnt talking about almost burning the house once before…she was referring to leaving Jack, the very first scene when she confronts him that shell be leaving and he then holds the daughter out the window. thats why madelyn wont answer when her daughter asks why she didnt go though with it-

    • The first time was at the very beginning of her daughter’s life when her father threatened to drop her off the 2nd floor and kill her. We are left with a sense that mom isn’t about to share this now but not to protect anyone but herself. Her daughter may not forgive her mother’s profound weakness not to mention leaving her baby in risk for her lifetime. There was hope for 2 people but Stone was the only one listening. Jack tried but his minister and his wife didn’t have a clue about the big picture. Only Stone could have helped him. But Jack would never have allowed it.

    • I actually thought that the bee in the same scene you spoke about was a representation of Jack’s wife. She tells Jack how she feels trapped & wants her freedom away from him. Much like the bee. The bee is also trapped in the house & is trying to exit the window to reach freedom. As soon as Jack threatens his wife & she once again summits to him, the window shuts, crushing the bee & it’s freedom. Jack crushed Madelyn’s freedom.

    • And now is 2018.. but oh well!
      The way I see it, Jack’s daughter was asking his mom why she took so long to leave Jack. Not necessarily to burn the house.

      She is trying to leave him at the beginning of the movie, but the fear of Jack’s threatening to hurt their daughter stopped her years ago.

  15. religious and pseudo – philosophical bullshit. Can´t believe DeNiro and Norton sign up for this shit

  16. Reaver,

    This is briliant analysis! I’d like to throw out a few things.

    1. There is a lot of different symbolism with the name Stone, which you have covered. When applying it to Jack, it also raises the issue of his having a stoney heart or a heart like stone that is hard, impenetratable, unable to change unless it is crushed by something, etc.

    2. I find it interesting Stone’s wife’s name is Lucetta, which is very close to Lucifer, whom the Bible depicts as seductive, needing to be worshipped, and who created all kinds of turmoil in the world because of his selfishness and need to be at the center of everything, etc.

    3. The silence Stone eventually experienced may also speak to when Jack was told by his pastor, “Be still and know that I am God.” It may point to Stone’s soul finally being quieted enough to truly hear, drown out all the distraction, and find peace.



    • I like your comment. This movie is disconcerting at best. Very upsetting feeling r me because there’s such a sense of disconnect and hopelessness. I feel for jack but probably because we’re not supposed to. Stone’s wife is scary empty. So is Jack’s wife. I know there’s so much more to the sounds and the hypocrisy of organized religion that thankfully one person will escape and find himself some peace with the humility absent in the other 3.

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