Archive for November 27th, 2010

By Bob Clark

At the heart of every plausible dystopia in science-fiction, there must always be an element of paradise. After all, the root term for the very word stems from St. Thomas Moore’s satirical novel “Utopia”, which in its own way was really attempting to describe the fallen state of man’s world by painting an ideal society so perfect it could not possibly exist even in our wildest dreams– a literal “no-where”. Fueled with a religious notion of our post-lapserian world, one might even be tempted to see the Garden of Eden as a classic dystopia, filled with all the pleasures of the senses, but at the expense of any kind of recognizable human freedom. When the Snake first suggested that God’s favorite creatures taste the forbidden fruit, was he invading that hallowed territory as Milton painted him, an avenging angel of the fallen sort, or could he have instead been described as a revolutionary figure on the behalf of mankind, instead? Was the plan he hissed through the licks of a forked-tongue intended to doom us into an eternity of misery on the wasteland plains of greater creation, or did he truly wish to liberate us by activating the sleeper-agent program of free-will?

Either we were tricked out of a genuine utopia, or freed from a gilded cage, but only with just as much preparation for the outside world as a chimp set loose from a zoo, or experimental laboratory. In the end it doesn’t really make much difference if Adam and Eve were led astray or merely misguided by good intentions– the centuries of misery since then have been the same. That’s how it tends to be at the end of any dystopian fiction when the hero escapes their prison, that nagging doubt of “what happens next”, like the anxious silence of a young fool in love and a runaway bride sitting in the back of the bus. Running away from paradise, no matter how heavily policed by angels with swords of fire, must always arrive with at least a tinge of regret. When Robert Duvall escaped the subterranean electronic-labyrinth of THX 1138, it provided the perfect capsule image for this motif– a bald-headed silhouette climbing out on a desert landscape bleached by the sunset, a world heavily implied to be an uninhabitable nuclear wasteland, very much like the wilderness Adam and Eve must’ve walked out into, their blessed existences cut short by the new half-life of mortality.  The question then is whether or not the prize of free-will is worth the price of suffering the consequences of original sin, or at least if it’s better than living it up in the lap of luxury while tied to a short leash.


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(France 1934 9 min)

Directors Anthony Gross, Hector Hoppin

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

They, every inch the good time gals, bounce and sway with fresh white smiles. He, top to toe the dapper chap, pursues them. Oh no, it’s not like that at all. He just wants to give them back one of their shoes. La Joie de Vivre is a frolic, a race to the next adventure, a bike chase, a chaste romancing of life itself.

Over these nine minutes, that feel like only a couple, you get the impression that the girls don’t want to be caught because that would mean the end of the fun. When he does eventually catch up with them it is on their terms. Eventually they just flow and fall into each other’s company.

Until then, they hide behind bushes, in bushes or become bushes, their skirts morphing into voluminous voluptuous petals. It is as if the girls are at one with the world. They are able to manipulate it at will and Hoppin and Gross more than once have them play with the illusion of 3D in 2D space. They even float about a power station, zapped by lightning and captured in a flash.


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