Æon Flux is one of those things that stuck in my head. The nineties were a strange time. It’ll be hard to see it again when the shadow conspiracy hits the reset button to bring that all back. And Æon Flux is all about hitting the reset button.
The titular character is the epitome of sex and death, Æon is a strange attractor, with chaos beating at her footsteps. This sometimes works to her advantage, but most of the time, the chaos she intends to cause destroys her in the process. Then there is Trevor Goodchild. Something of a thrice-blessed genius, Trevor seeks only to bring humanity to its next age, whatever the price. He sets the boundaries of his new order, but finds himself exasperated by everyone working towards breeching the borders of his Utopia.
The stories writhe on fetishism (bondage, foot-fetish, tongues and acrotomophilia being brought up throughout), violence, indulgence and repression. It is equal parts Nineteen-Eighty-Four and Brave New World, where each new thrill is accompanied by a new control to the changing experiment.
The first episode I watched was The Demiurge. I still think it’s the best episode of the series. At least, hopefully that’s not some kind of imprinting thing. It is a well-rounded story of death, rebirth and redemption, with a Gnostic/Vedic-themed space god, a bizarre depiction of a virgin birth and the usual cause-and-effect calamity.
And this was the sixth episode in the series. Æon Flux had already died at least twice in previous episodes. And this is my point about this show. Unlike Lost which begged at you that there was a greater mystery, there is none in Æon Flux, except for the mystery of human nature. Each episode is quarantined from the others, as if they reside in separate petri dishes. It seems that technology, when it reaches a certain level, allows us to shed the chains of consequences. And when the experiment fails, it’s time to reset and start again.
I barely remember the live-action film based on this, and while I didn’t mind the visual style, it didn’t have the same bizarre heart of the animated series. The brutalist architecture, the platonic republic, strange designs and landscapes that recall Egon Schiele and Jean Giraud illustrations. And all of this tangled with the love/hate relationship between Goodchild and Flux. None of this I remember in the live action film. I can barely watch the trailer for it, especially just coming out of cramming the entire series into my skull.
So if you want to see a mind-bending animated series, from an era when MTV were making decent shows, the start digging for a copy of this, because I doubt you’ll ever see its like again.