Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ark motif in movies

It’s interesting to see the different spiritual motifs that arise in film and TV shows and how they change and o ask the question why these particular ones appear at certain times.

In a lecture I was in earlier in the year it was pointed out that Vampires were very popular at the moment (not just because of the whole Twilight phenomenon) and it was postulated that often Vampires become a strong and popular motif at times when there is a fear of the unknown and in particular technological advancements. It’s like they are this dark force that stalks the dark nights of uncertainty of our society. Although I don’t know of what to make of the fact that vampires are stepping out from the shadows and becoming heroic as well as villains. Maybe it’s that we find ourselves caught between the utopian promises of our technology and still there in the background is the fear of a dystopia. That all this stuff is going to come back and bite us in the... well neck.

The lecturer also suggested that in the next year that the spiritual flavour will be Angels again. I don’t know what that represents maybe we are entering a time when there is a need for hope and knowing that there is something out there that can help.

But the Motif that I have found fascinating and wondering what it means is the growth of the Ark in a couple of movies.

Wall-E which has been called the best silent movie ever made is full of “Ark” imagery. Not only a spaceship sent away to wait for the flood of our own garbage to be broken down by the robotic cleaning crew. But the robot the white robot that Wall-e falls in love with( called 'eve' evoking Genesis again)is a dove, sent to look for an olive branch a sign of hope that will cause the Ark to return to the earth. The plant that Wall-E has to save from destruction represents that hope.

I took my tow oldest kids to see 2012 the disaster film to end all disaster films. Amidst an over kill of apocalyptic special effects and cheesy lines and visual references (like two of the main characters talking of something coming between them as a chasm appears down the middle of a supermarket between them and well you can guess where the crack first appears as the cistern chapel collapses). The world powers who have known of the coming destruction have been preparing and building a fleet of Arks to save the best of human society and the rich and powerful.
I guess in both movies the motif offers hope. Hope that our technology can save us from both the consequences of our own society’s excesses and any natural disaster. But both movies posse the question is it enough to save human beings and loose our humanity? In Wall-E the opulent consumer society seems to have been perpetrated and taken with humanity into space. In 2012 the rich and powerful unlike Noah and God in the biblical narrative have not warned anyone of what is going on and have used the old capitalist idea of user pays to build arks for the rich and powerful. Those with places on a luxury ark are asked if they have lost their humanity as they seal the doors (acting like god?) and leave the labourers who had built the arks behind to face the coming flood.
You can throw in other texts like ‘Evan almighty’, a resurgence of ‘Battlestar galactic’.

I guess I still trying to work out what it means and how it reflects on what this has to say to us. I guess there is the hope that we can escape consequences but also the realisation that faced with the unholy trinity of ‘extreme weather, extreme poverty and extreme ideology’ that Bono talks about that just maybe it’s a spiritual issue and our very nature needs to change or we need to rediscover what it means to be human.