I just watched Aronofsky’s Noah. It was a powerful, disturbing film. I don’t know if it was calculated to please a religious audience, but I think that Christians ought to be pleased by it. What follows is my take on the film, and there are a few spoilers – so be warned.
I took the opportunity to see Gravity tonight. Houston has a theater with a very large IMAX screen and well-calibrated projection and audio reproduction. Seeing this movie in 3D was a wonderful cinematic experience, one I recommend to you. Here are a few reasons why:
Some films beg to be discussed philosophically. But many of these films are dismissed by professional philosophers as pseudo-philosophy. Cloud Atlas – the new film by the makers of The Matrix – is one that will be so dismissed. It has all the same vices as The Matrix Reloaded, a movie I greatly enjoyed.
Like the Matrix sequels, Cloud Atlas is flawed in many ways, not least of which is philosophical argumentation less rigorous than most professional philosophers would hope for. But if it is laughable to say “we are bound to others, past and present”, as the messianic figure of Cloud Atlas says, then it is just as laughable to say that “no man is an island entire of itself; … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind” as John Donne said or “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” as Paul says in Romans 12:5.
This theme of interconnection between people is the key to Cloud Atlas. The film seems to be about reincarnation, but that’s a red-herring. The filmmakers’ choice to cast the same actors in more than one role – including actors playing different races and genders – is an illustration of the view that one’s character is a construction. We are all actors. And just as Tom Hanks can put on various costumes and play different roles, so can we. The filmmakers are rejecting what is called gender and racial “essentialism” in favor of the view that gender and race are “social constructions” – not surprising given the fact that one of the filmmakers is transgendered. Continue reading