Kidnapping is one of the greatest fears every parent has. You’re child is playing out in the backyard, maybe picking some flowers, and in the next second, she’s gone. Vanished without a trace. The uncertainty of what’s happening to that child, of not knowing if they’re alive or dead is gut wrenching to even imagine.
I didn’t want to imagine it, which is why in my version of events, Demeter knows Persephone’s whereabouts the entire time. My own daughter was six months old when Persephone was finished. I literally could not write the missing child story. But it came up a lot in my research, and as with anything else, the more you know, the more parallels you can see in modern culture. The fear of kidnapping predates the pantheon. That universal fear of losing a child is a major reason Demeter’s role features so heavily in the myth. So I wouldn’t consider these to be retellings. More like echoes. So why way back Wednesday instead of modern Wednesday? These are adaptations that may have inspired my telling of the myth. They happened in my lifetime, prior to, or during, my writing of Persephone.
Sarah, who plays a unique combination role of both Demeter and Persephone in this myth, loses her little brother to the Goblin King (Hades). To win him back, she must venture through the dark and mysterious land of the labyrinth (the Underworld), resisting all the temptations therein. Yes, technically, this is more of a changing story. But there are echoes of Demeter and Persephone here.
Man on Fire
When Dakota Fanning is kidnapped, Denzel Washington (I’m sorry, were they supposed to have other names in this movie?) razes the earth to find her. He probably kills about as many people as the first winter and his grizzly brand of justice would win the goddess’ approval.
Also in this vein is the movie Taken. Very similar plot structures, very similar violence, only in this case instead of a surrogate father figure and a younger child it’s an older daughter that goes missing.
When Jodie Foster’s daughter goes missing on board a plane, she enlists the aid of the flight attendants and passengers. However it soon comes to light that no one recalls seeing her daughter on board. Gas lighting and psychobabble ensue as this mother does anything she can to find her daughter. Beyond the obvious connections of a mother searching desperately for her little girl, there’s also an echo of the silence of Olympus and the misdirection of Zeus in the film.
Based on the video game by the same name, this features a woman literally going to hell and back to rescue her missing adopted daughter. The symbolism in this movie is pretty impressive. I love the way the mom’s dress slowly turns from white to red as her journey through silent hill progresses. Very loss of innocence. A key feature in the Demeter myth.
There are literally thousands of other stories featuring kidnappings. Can you think of any parallels to Demeter?