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POINT OF ORIGIN

A Movie Analysis
Samuel H. Aquino Jr.

I. RATIONALE

I believe that you are capable of adding significant amount of awareness to the
vast sum of knowledge the human society embraces. This movie review provides
considerable information about pyromania. This stimulating information will lead you to
speculate further possibilities about psychopathology which may be your personal
contribution for the betterment of our intellectual world. Any doubts you have about the
existence of pyromaniacs will be answered upon by this movie review. This will help
justify the existence of pyromania. It will also add to your preexisting knowledge about
psychopathology. Also, this thought-provoking movie review will satisfy your
intellectual curiosity. It will cater to your need for intellectual inspiration.
Lastly, I deem that our society is getting closer to the brink of insanity everyday.
Every community seems to provide its own share of psychopaths. Statistics proves that
between 2.3 to 3.3 percent of the population has been “psychopaths” sometime in their
lives. Psychopaths are one of the most dangerous people you’ll ever meet in this world.
Some people may even call them the perfect incarnate of evil itself. Psychopaths are
serial killers, serial arsons, serial rapists, and the utter evil. Recognizing them in the
gamut of people we meet everyday may extend a bit your meaningful existence in this
world. With the knowledge you’ll get from this review, you will be well-equipped to
identify and be wary about psychopaths that might add you to their to-do list.

II. DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTER

I focus my analytical attention to John Orr, played by Ray Liotta. The movie,
entitled Point of Origin, tells about a series of fires which the authorities suspect to be the
work of an arsonist, a pyromaniac. The local police, the arson department, and the ATF
created a task force designated to investigate the fires. However, all the evidence points
out to a fireman.
I am interested about the life of John Orr prior to the fires. I want to understand
what made the arsonist turn establishments to cinders. I also want to comprehend the
feelings of the arsonist after his fiery frenzies, after setting a house to fire. Lastly, I want
to realize the effects of his pyromania to his job, his peers, his family, and himself.
John Orr is a famous arson investigator. He is married to Wanda and has two
daughters. They live happily together. John is a good husband, a disciplined father, and a
dedicated career-man. But the good seems to be superficial.
Within six weeks, simultaneous fires erupted within Los Angeles. Six fires have
devastated the community. It’s within Orr’s jurisdiction to go about investigating this
series of fires.
Six fires in six weeks and still no suspects. The Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Agency decided to take hold of the investigation. The group of investigators was
composed of expert individuals in terms of arson. One of them an apprentice of Orr.
Evidences are hard to find since the fires left nothing for the investigators. But
witnesses have been apprehended and asked for sketches. Red haired, big, and strong
man was what the sketches say.
Orr was so good at placing the point of origin of the fire. He seems to be such an
instinctive and good arson investigator. That is, he seems.
On one situation, the arson watches the fires while the firemen are trying to snuff
it out. He sits at the restaurant affront the burning establishment. He sits pleasurably and
narrates the situation to the two women beside him. He tells them that the building has to
be holed above to release the pressure from the accumulating smoke. He tells them that
the fire is like a woman, slowly climaxing. He makes suborgasmic sounds. Then he says,
“…and then, she comes.” The burning building explodes.
Finally, the taskforce has found a fingerprint in one of the lighters believed to be
the cause of the fire. Unbelievably, the prints match that of John Orr himself. The task
force puts Orr in 24-hour surveillance, but he discovers the tracking device.
His apprentice, Mike Lang, who is also part of the investigating task force follows
Orr. He finds out that Orr, who is a non-smoker, bought a large pack of cigarettes and a
lighter at a store. He also discovers John’s discreet extramarital relationship.
Meanwhile, John’s relationship with his wife begins to cold. Soon, his wife
discovers that John is secretly writing a novel about the fires, the arson, and the life of the
arsonist instead of doing a report about the incidents. She read about the affair of the
arson with another woman. John persuades her to ignore those things and just love him.
And she does, sadly.
Finally, the ATF arrests John Orr for arson. Orr strongly denies the act. But the
jury pronounced him… guilty.

III. THE THEORY

Freud (1930) asserts that pyromania is a regressive retreat to “primitive man’s”


desire to gain power and control over nature.
Man struggles to gain control, to gain power over the domination of nature. The
acquisition of power over fire, a strong force of nature, is the most important. Freud
assumes that man had had the impulse when he came in contact with fire, to gratify an
infantile pleasure in respect of it and put it out with a stream of urine. We remember that
in anal stage, the source of pleasure is elimination. Putting out fire by urinating, therefore,
represents a sexual act with a man, an enjoyment of masculine potency in homosexual
rivalry. Whoever was the first to deny himself the pleasure and spare the fire was able to
take it with him and use it for his own service. By curbing the fire of his own sexual
passion he was able to take fire as a force of nature. It is remarkable how regular analytic
findings testify to the close connection between the ideas of ambition, fire, and urethral
eroticism.
Freud’s perception of pyromania assumes that pyromania is an ego-oriented
conflict. It is the conflict whether to gratify the sexual desire to urinate and extinguish the
fire or to deny the pleasurable act of urination and thereby gaining control over fire.
Primitive man could not but regard fire as something analogous to the passion of
love – we could say as a symbol of libido. The warmth radiated by the fire evokes the
same kind of glow as accompanies the state of sexual excitation, and the form and motion
of the flame suggest the phallus in action. Fire, then, represents sex.
A pyromaniac’s fiery frenzies signify that he has successfully denied himself the
instinctual and pleasurable act to urinate and extinguish a fire. He then sets
establishments in fire to feel a more pleasurable sexual experience. Sexual in that fire
signifies sex.
If a man is sexually unsatisfied with his relationship, he will tend to find better
outlets for his libido. He then finds fire to better gratify his sexual needs. Or, if he thinks
that sex is detrimental and is to be abhorred, he then will look for more acceptable means
of gratifying his sexual needs and it could still fire. Then, he is a pyromaniac.

IV. THEORETICAL ANALYSIS

In John Orr’s situation, the movie does not provide significant information about
the pyromaniac’s early life neither does it provide sufficient information about the
neurological condition of the pyromaniac, thus, restricting possible analysis to a
psychoanalytic approach.
As we remember from the presentation of the theory, a pyromaniac is someone
who is not satisfied with his sexual relationships or someone who is disgusted and
bothered by his own sexuality that he finds fire more acceptable or more satisfying for
gratifying his sexual needs and also, setting fire satisfies the “primitive man’s” desire to
control nature.
We will remember that John Orr had extramarital affairs. This may signify that he
is not satisfied with his wife’s sexual performance. At the end of the movie, Inspector
Lang discovers a box filled with photos of John in sexual intimacy with different women.
Based on the evidence of John’s multiple extramarital affairs, we may stipulate that he is
not contented with his sexual experiences. What the reasons might be, I do not know.

V. HYPOTHESIS

I, therefore, hypothesize that John Orr’s unsatisfaction with his multiple sexual
relationships led him to look for more gratifying experiences. Fire had answered that
need and firesetting had also answered his “primitive man’s” desire to gain power over
fire.

VI. APPLICATIONS

This movie review inculcated in my mind significant facts about pyromania, its
causes, and its symptoms. I also learned that man had had the “primitive man’s” desire to
control nature and the analogy between fire and sex.
I believe then that, if ever a man finds his sexual needs unsatisfied, he better
sublimate his libido. He may invest his psychical energy into more beneficial activities.
He may also sublimate his instinctual need to control fire by, maybe finding a career with
considerable exposure to fiery situations, a potter, baker, or fireman maybe.