Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A minature Essay

For those of you seeking something different from your daily read- here is a short essay I wrote today about the 1985 Sci-Fi Movie The Quiet Earth. I wrote it because I actually believe that everybody who saw this film understood it wrong. It is not a science fiction movie at all. It is a film about the afterlife.



It is my belief that The Quiet Earth (1985) is an obvious story of the personal purgatory of the lead character Zac, based within the frameworks of modern religious paradigms.

It is my film beleif that the religious story here is not a metaphoric story - it should indeed be taken literally. The entire red herring of the Grid and the Effect should be ignored - the characters themselves struggle to come to any consensus and even then it is dismissed as conjecture.

The movie begins after our protagonist Zac's suicide and starts with his arrival into the next life. Zac's visit to the church and the appearance of the figure of Jesus Christ clearly contextualises the religious story within Christian ideology. This is neither a subtle theme nor a gentle metaphor. After his suicide he wakes and finds himself condemned to suffering in a place far from God

Literally Zac is in hell - but it is not Dante's depiction of hell with fire and brimstone, instead it is a more cold and harrowing place: An empty Earth devoid of love and and any spiritual quality - it is own Hell.

Acknowledge the revelations that Zac has gained every material possession that he could ever wish for and that fact that he also declares himself the president of Earth, and it compounds this idea further. Once Zac satisfies the very human vanities of power and wealth he is still alone and very much in torment.

Trapped in hell, Zac demands for God to show himself and in protest he then fires off a shotgun into a statue of Jesus on the cross in the same five spots that jesus was wounded in during his crucifixion.

This metaphor is crude but is revelas the contempt that Zac has for his own lack of salvation which becomes more apparent when he declares himself God and then seeks to destroy as much as he can.

It is in the futility of this moment when he stares into the flames ( the only traditional depiction of hell) of the burning building that he recognises his situation. About to turn the shotgun on himself and repeat the cycle he stares into the flames and experiences his revelation.

The exact nature of the revelation is unclear but it is obviously the beginning of his transformation and eventual salvation - subverting somewhat, the Christian notion of purgatory as a place that cannot be escaped from, and adopting a more modern Baha'i ideology. The Baha'i belief of hell is of a place not of fire and brimstone but of a place when man, lacking spiritual qualites, is thrust into a new world that he cannot understand - like a child born into this world with no eyes or ears. Signifiicantly the Baha'i believe that progress can still be made in the afterlife and within this paradigm is the road that Zac must follow to redeem himself.

We next see Zac appearing naked in the sea in an obvious reference to baptism - now that he has chosen his path it creates an opening for the other characters to appear.

The two characters appear and then themselves reveal that it was indeed death also that led them to this place. The flashbacks sequences and exposition that the character use follows the principles of the NDE (Near Death Experience) popularised by Raymond Moody during the 1970's in his book 'Life After Life"

The girl significantly speaks of Heaven as the 'light at the end of the tunnel' that she yearned for more than anything - her regret at being returned to the earth is obvious.

At the end of the movie when Zac sacrifices his own life to save the others. He experiences the same near death expericne but this time he reaches the light and then re-appears on a sandy shore staring out at the sea.

The clouds, the sky, the sea, the sun - he is clearly redeemed by his selfless actions - and find himself in Heaven.

No clearer allegory have I ever seen.

Copyright 2006 Lord of Doom


Blogger El Diablo De Verde said...

I skipped over your entire post, and am gonna go watch the film first.

5/11/2006 3:01 am  
Blogger Doom/Blondie said...

Good idea. It is a classic movie.


5/11/2006 11:59 am  
Blogger dotdotdot said...

You're writing is nice, if only I had seen the film and new what you were talking about...

5/11/2006 7:35 pm  
Blogger Dr Jim said...

The film you describe seems familiar. I can't believe that I wouldn't have seen it, but I guess it couldn't distract me fom whatever I would have been doing at the time. Kids.

You should perhaps consider submitting your synopsis to the IMDB (Internet Movie Database).

5/12/2006 10:42 am  

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