Thursday, March 20, 2008

Danger, with or without the sun

Let there be light

"When I was a little kid, my mother told me not to stare into the sun, so when I was six I did" Max, Pi

What does staring too much at the sun do? In the film Sunshine, it convinces one character to conclude that he had a conversation with God. And that God instructed him to stop the human space mission to save the dying sun. If the space crew did not accomplish their mission and blast the sun into a new life, it would ultimately result in mankind perishing in complete frozen cold weather.

No light

In the vampire film, 30 Days of Night, the light is only shown at the film's start and end. Shortly after the film's start, darkness slowly descends. And with that, evil takes over. The vampires in the film do not speak English but there is one instance that the leader of the pack speaks a few words in English. In that scene, a young girl is pleading for her life and utters, "Please, God". To which the vampire leader replies "God? No God".

Science vs Religion

Even though both Sunshine and 30 Days of Night belong to different genres, it is interesting that the mention of God is made in both films. On the surface, it is tempting to assume the excessive light in Sunshine means the presence of God and that the darkness in 30 Days of Night signifies the absence of God. But the mention of God is more tied to the two film's core.

The story in Sunshine is about using scientific principles to alter the fate of mankind which brings up the debate between science and religion. If science can save mankind, then where does religion stand? And the debate about how religion fits in with the crew's mission is uttered by more than one character in Sunshine. So the character in the film wants to follow the natural order of things and believes that life should end as God intended it. Mankind should not interfere.

I only paid attention to the concept of God in vampire films while watching the brilliant Abel Ferrara film Addiction. In Addiction we meet an existentialist vampire who quotes Nietzsche and does not believe in God. In a sense, the vampire's disbelief in God makes sense. A vampire by nature is a walking dead person. If someone cannot die, then why would they believe in religion, whose foundation is centered around the concept of birth, death and life after death. So if a person cannot die, then their existence is validated more by existentialism than by conventional religious beliefs. Appropriately, in Addiction the main character who gets bitten by a vampire only finds salvation when she gives herself over to religion; her belief in God saves her from a lifetime of disbelief. The vampires in 30 Days of Night are more sinister than the ones in Addiction but they still subscribe to the same existentialist belief. They have no need to believe in God as they move from town to town, feeding on the weak religion believing humans.

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