Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Code 46 - Another Authentic Science Fiction Film

2 October 2007

I have had further success in finding an authentic science fiction film.

Code 46, starring Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton, is another low-budget effort that for the most part could have been a stage play. The director is Michael Winterbottom.

That’s right. This one is about the acting, and Robbins and Morton excel. But the premise is pure science fiction. What if biotechnology had become very advanced, and humans were widely reproduced through in vitro fertilization and cloning in order to regulate the emergence of troublesome genes?

This particular effort is low budget enough that there was no attempt to construct futuristic settings. Shanghai seemed a sufficiently futuristic city, so the crew operated in that city for two weeks (due to limited funds) – and the interiors were shot largely in London. The buildings, household items, and vehicles are exactly those you would have seen in 2003 when the movie was filmed.

Particularly during the scenes inside the vehicles, with evident contemporary Toyota logos, I was once again reminded of Godard’s use of “intergalactic space” in

The film is set nominally in a future different than our own due primarily to the presence of advanced biotechnology (fingers can also be regrown), ozone-piercing ultraviolet radiation from the sun forcing a nocturnal lifestyle, further multi-ethnic blending in the world’s leading urban centres, and the rigid segregation of the genetically pure from the genetically tainted.

However, given that there was so little effort dedicated to creating a futuristic set, my own preference would be to consider this an alternative reality film. What if
Alejandro Zaffaroni had been born 50 years earlier and nothing had been done about chlorofluorocarbons? Let’s just think of this as a self-reproducing fractal universe parallel to our own, courtesy of superstring and inflation theory (now perhaps increasingly in question, due to oscillating universe theory, but that’s another matter).

Now, let’s add a couple of additional elements. How about a virus that is neurologically active, enhancing empathy? Add to this a chance meeting with a woman who might be the clone of your mother – but she is young – near your age. Your genetic similarity is 50%, and perhaps you have never met your mother, due to being raised by host parents.

How might you respond to this person with whom you are deeply biologically but not experientially linked? There is only enhanced empathy to guide you.

How refreshing that this is not a film “about” technology. Nor is it a disguised thriller, action or horror movie.

Code 46 is quite simply the story of how two human beings might respond to a new type of situation that could be made possible only through the implementation of technologies which are presently conceivable, but not yet in application.

Robbins and Morton seem to understand this intuitively, and everything in the film is focused around their very human solution to this dilemma – a solution, of course, which the genetically regulated society cannot permit. I do not think this film could have been better acted. It is first rate.

Watch and enjoy. It’s the real thing!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe Science Fiction needs to be broken down into two different categories.

    a) Science Fiction: stupid movies, with bizarre characters and stupid wars e.g. Star Wars

    b) Futuristic: movies that cause us to think about what our future could be like. Maybe these help us take responsiblity for what we are doing now because we can relate to the outcome. (It is hard for us to relate to someone like Jarjar Binks)