Why scifi is awesome: The Island

. 2 min read

Moving down a little bit on the greatness ladder (but not a lot), we encounter Michael Bay's The Island from 2005. The Island is a movie about a man who lives in a large, clean and futuristic station - working a job, spending evenings at the bar or the arcade, and wearing white like everyone else - from which the inhabitants are one by one chosen by a lottery and then moved to the last uncontaminated place on Earth to live on, the Island. One day he discovers a live moth in the AC system and begins to question if the outside world in unlivable after all.

As a regular Michael Bay movie, The Island is excellent entertainment, even if not a pure masterpiece like yesterday's scifi pick. It succeeds on many levels. First, it's scifi, case closed. Second, it's also an action movie. Third, the twist is very philosophical.

The beginning of the movie takes brutally advantage of the phenomenon that viewers are likely to believe everything they see - every situation, every explanation, every possible universe no matter how incredible. The viewer truly believes that the Earth has been contaminated and that the people living on the station are the last remaining ones (although it is strange that they keep finding survivors so long after the accident) and that the mysterious Island is the last inhabitable place and that for some completely legit yet untold reason people have weird names, like Lincoln Six Echo. Until the truth is revealed, that is - that the people on the station are clones, and that "winning the lottery" means that the person according to whose genes the lottery winner was developed is dying and needs the clone's organs to survive. Or, alternatively, a female clone can be developed to carry the real persons's child if she didn't want to be pregnant and deliver the baby herself.

This is a beautiful yet more brutal version of Plato's cave. While Plato wrote that this material world is a mere illusion - a metaphorical cave with shadows dancing on the wall - and that people should try and find their way out of the cave and into the divine light of God and enlightenment, The Island offers a physical cave from which escaping is also physical. (To the question of if the world the clones escape to from the station is also an illusion, the movie offers no answer.)

Are you living in an illusion? How can you know if the world around you isn't a hologram, a matrix, a simulation, where you're allowed to live only so that one day your organs can be used for something else?

This is a somewhat obvious and even corny interpretation of the message of the movie, so I shall ask another set of questions.

Are you spending your life waiting for a lottery win or death? Why are you doing everything you're told to do without questioning any of it?

As the first stand is already studied to quite the extent in other movies as well and offers somewhat a dead end when it comes to living life, let's put emphasis on the second stand. Are you going thourgh the motions of everyday life without doing some digging? Think a little. See if you can find a moth in the AC. Go out and look for signs of life outside the conventional lifestyle.

Who knows what new worlds you could find!