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Basically "The Giver" For Adults
on October 15, 2015
Standard dystopian future flick of a post-apocalyptic society that chooses to chemical suppression of emotions (along with art, romance, religion, compassion, etc.) in order to avoid future wars and conflicts. The penalty for failure to comply with this policy is death, and the lives of "sense" criminals and great works of art, literature, music, etc. Must be destroyed in order to preserve a State free of crime, war, and love. If you liked "Fahrenheit 451," "Brave New World," and of course "The Giver," you'll probably like this film too since it incorporates elements from all of those books. The style is roughly "The Matrix" meets "Resident Evil" (both in clothing and fight sequences), so if you find that cheesy, you want to avoid this. My son rolled his eyes at what he called a "pre-Internet vision of the future," but I enjoyed it.
Basically, this film asks the question, "What is the purpose to life?" As one of the "sense" criminals points out, if you're living just to exist, that is nothing more than a circular existence; your life is a waste and serves no purpose. For the people of "Equilibrium," the purpose of life is to serve the State, which will give both liberals and conservatives plenty to chat about. Christian Bale plays Preston,a cleric, one of the enforcers of sense crime laws and punishments. Essentially, the clerics are akin to the firemen of "Fahrenheit 451" in that they destroy anything which might stir human passion and fill the mind with longing which cannot be fulfilled by the State. Quite early on, we learn that Preston had lost his wife for sense crimes, and he quickly losses his partner for the same offense (Sean Bean dies? Didn't see that one coming!" He is then saddled with a new partner who ominously aspires to make his career under Preston's lead. And we see little by little how Preston is drawn into the sense crime world himself.
As I have said, fairly by the books dystopian material. We see shades of "!984's" Big Brother with Father, the all-powerful leader. An interesting question to pose is whether religion has been exterminated or if it has morphed to a different form. The cross is used as a symbol of Father and the State. The term "cleric" of course applies to the Catholic clergy of our day, and I suppose some would say that the popes (aka Holy Fathers) were the all-powerful rulers of Middle Ages. However, it should be noted that human life has absolutely no value for this society, which runs counter to the very core beliefs of Catholicism. In addition, the Catholic Church has been a patron of the arts and sciences for centuries, whereas Father and the Liberan society holds art to nothing more than a disruptive force and a display of passion. There certainly appears to be no afterlife concept in Libera, but the manner in which sense criminals are executed does invoke allusions to the burning of witches (capes, crosses, burning alive).
Overall, a pretty fun and interesting movie that might even make you think. One thing I would LOVE to see that dystopian films never show is the Day After the great society has fallen. Okay, you have all of these unruly anarchists who just overthrew the Evil Empire. Are they really going to be ready to rebuild and form a new government? Or will it be every man/woman for him/herself, making the weaker among them long for the "good old days" of totalitarianism? Personally, I think that would be cool to see, but I'm not holding my breath.