Monday, October 19, 2009
We have been traveling for the last couple of weeks. Traveling these days means travel in the inner tube of a jet airplane. It means time for movie-watching.
We watched a movie called Moon, starring Sam Rockwell as the lead character Sam Bell. It was a pretty good sci-fi thriller with an absurd twist.
The premise is this: At some point in the future, a company called Lunar Industries mines the moon for Helium-3, which it ships back to Earth. We use this helium to generate power in the future.
Sam Bell works for Lunar on the Moon. At this one-man outpost, Sam oversees the machines that harvest the helium from the moon's soil.
But then things get interesting... (SPOILER ALERT)
Turns out Sam is not really Sam Bell at all, but a clone of the original Sam Bell on Earth. I'll skip the twists that get us here, but Sam encounters another Sam on the station after some mix-ups accidentally activate the other Sam Bell clone.
What follows is some absurd dialogue between the two clones, who are convinced they are both the original Sam Bell. As the viewer, you're not sure who is who either. They share the same memories, uploaded from the original. They look the same. Share the same personality.
(They also find a storehouse in the station where there many more Sam Bell clones waiting to be activated when a Sam Bell clone breaks down, so there is always one operating the station.)
Later the movie reveals that they are both clones and they come to reckon with their existence.
This is all absurd philosophically, because it exposes the idea of self as an arbitrary thing, or even better, a very powerful illusion. We are just a tangle of muscles and tissues, a jungle jim of bones, a sort of self-referential feedback loop.
In the movie, the two Sams only really start to get along when they appreciate the absurdity of their existence. They stop bickering and fighting. They stop acting selfishly. In fact, they become more determined to live, and live fully, by escaping the moon base.
We don't know what message the film's director wanted to get across. But the movie struck us as quite absurd on many levels. In a sure sign of a good movie for us, we were thinking about it, on and off, for several days afterwards.
Posted by Inigo Montoya at 6:52 AM