Saturday, 1 June 2013

Michael Bay's The Island : "I wish that there was more"

 Michael Bay is not exactly a religious Hollywood director. In this filmography we find The Rock (1996), Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001) or the Transformers series. In 2005, Bay directed The Island, starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, as Lincoln 6-Echo and Jordan 2-Delta. Lincoln and Jordan live with other people in an isolated, futuristic and utopian residence, a kind of indoor Club Med, highly monitored. All the residents in this pseudo-holiday complex are told they are the survivors of massive contamination. The environment they live in is controlled carefully, apparently for their own benefit. The monotony of their lives is stopped every once in a while by a lottery game which prize is to quit the residence to go live the rest of their live in paradisiacal island, the last uncontaminated spot on the planet. Like all of the inhabitants of this residence, Lincoln hopes to be chosen to go to there. 

It is possible to perform different readings of this movie, there are several subjects that are evoked – human dignity, freedom and control, the significance of human being - but in this case, I would like just to concentrate on how impossible is to avoid the desire of transcendence to come up to the surface, even if all our basic needs are more or less satisfied. 

From the very beginning of the movie we notice that Lincoln feels some kind of anxiety, not for a specific reason, has nightmares, and he starts questioning the environment. He is asked to pay a visit to doctor Merrick (Sean Bean), who is in charge of the programme:

"L: All right. Tuesday night is tofu night. And I'm asking myself, who decided that everyone here likes tofu in the first place? And what is tofu, anyway? And why can't I have bacon? I line up every morning, and I'm not allowed any bacon for my breakfast. And... Let's talk about all the white. Why is everyone wearing white all the time? It's impossible to keep clean. I always get the gray stripe. I never get any color. And I hand it in to be cleaned, and someone cleans it, and folds it neatly back in my drawer, but who? Who is that person? I don't know. I just... I wanna know answers. And I wish that there was more. 
D:  More? 
L: Yeah. More than just waiting to go to the Island. 
D: Lincoln, it's your nature to question things."

They might look like silly questions (food, wardrobe…), but then it turns to be a critic of "system", the way things are run at the residence. Though his main source of dissatisfaction is the absence of meaning in his flat life. "I wish that there was more" is also the cry of contemporary man thirsty of transcendence.

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