Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Juno is Not Just a City in Alaska

As we learn during the powerful movie, Juno was named for the wife - and older sister - of Zeus. Juno is the Roman version of the Greek Goddess Hera. Hera was born of Cronus and Rhea, and was abruptly swallowed after birth due to a prophecy that one of Cronus's children would take over his throne. She was goddess of marriage, presides over the right arrangements of marriage and is the archetype of the union in the marriage bed, but she is not notable as a mother.

Myths about the namesake of the main character of the four times Oscar nominated and very popular film include that Zeus and/or Hera herself were disgusted with her son, Hephaestus' ugliness and threw him from Mount Olympus.

Juno is modern day Greek tragedy about a teen abandoned by her mother who -- without any input from family, the baby's father, his family, a social worker or counselor -- hands her newborn son to a woman she finds in a Penny Saver, even after the woman's husband leaves her after seeing himself through Juno's eyes and wanting to return to his "rocker" days instead of being a jingle-writing yuppie Dad.

The characters often spout mouthfuls of truth, but ignore their own words, such as Juno's father raising concern that she doesn't get "ripped off by nuts" and sadly assuring her that she'll have another baby when the time is right - trying to keep the hope alive for himself as much as for her.

While not Greek or Roman, Juno is so filled with hackneyed adoption myths it's almost satirical at times. Juno's step mother, who is pining for her to leave so she can have dogs, suggests that adoption is a "blessing from Jesus" and someone says Juno might be "canonized for her selflessness."

And the ultimate quintessential cliche "pretend that this has never happened" is also uttered. This, perhaps that relates to the ironic fact that mythical Hera was also worshipped as a virgin who renewed her virginity annually, in rites that were not to be spoken of.

The most ironic scene involves an argument that erupts with the ultra sound technician who upon learning that Juno is planning to loose her child to adoption says: "Thank goodness for that." Juno suddenly speculates that the adoptive parents could abuse or mistreat her child while her step mother shouts angrily: "maybe Juno could do better."

In this FOX version, Juno and her boyfriend go off into the sunset together "as if it never happened" allowing the curtain to come down long before the reality of what she has done sinks in and likely destroys the relationship she believes to be the "the one." But then, impermanence in relationships is a theme from start to finish.


mary ellen said...

excellent review!

AdoptAuthor said...

I was pretty blown away when I read up on the mythological Juno.

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