Sunday, March 31, 2013
"The Host": Meyer explores "multiple identities" or soul changes
Does it make sense for one body to inhabit two more souls? I’m not talking about schizophrenia or split personalities or “voices” that are explainable medically.
Stephenie Meyer’s “new” novel and Andrew Niccol’s 2-hour slow-paced sci-fi film, “The Host”, pose that question. Aliens have conquered Earth, and displaced most earthling’s souls with their own. (This may evoke "Invasion of the Body Snatchers IV", but the mood and storytelling concept are totally different.) They say they can build a perfect world of cooperation and sustainability. Actually, their ideology sounds like Communism, of the Maoist or maybe even North Korean kind. (Yes, this movie is a kind of “Red Dawn IV”.) The problem with extreme socialism is that, when you try to enforce the rules (“everyone pays his dues”) and create a classless, moneyless society (stores in the new world order don’t have brands or even credit cards or cash registers), you break the rules yourself. Only criminals can eliminate other criminals without adding to sin. Meyer seems in touch with that.
There are a few refusniks, of rebels holed up – this time in New Mexico caves apparently left by the Chaco Culture (which slowly dismantled its own civilization over a few hundred years). They live underground, and have developed a technology to grow food out of sight. (Hint: the same concept occurs in the 1969 western “MacKenna’s Gold”. Here, there’s no “old turkey buzzard”.)
One of the young women, Melanie (like in “Gone with the Wind”, played by Saorsie Ronan) didn’t make the complete transition from Wanda. Her old self talks to her (like a schizophrenic’s voices). Much of the plot concerns her “escape” back to the rebels, and how “love” (for a smooth-skinned Jared, played by Max Irons) might make the switch complete.
In my own novel “Angel’s Brother”), the “victims” (so to speal) of a bizarre neurological retroviral infection sometimes find their souls living inside an angel – as they “tune on”, like for a dream, every so often, and learn the angel’s background, while the angel learns those. If the “victim” doesn’t die, he might “convert” partially (that sounds like the concept Meyer has, so I guess I gave away too much in previous blogs). Such a “special” (or exceptional) patient might experience having two bodies, switching back and forth through time-warps within his body (there’s a hint of that concept in this movie in the way the aliens can heal, and also in the way the eyes look). Just don’t give away too much in blogs. Oh, no matter. Ideas can’t be copyrighted anyway.
There’s also an interesting visual concept of what a soul looks like when it leaves – an idea we saw in the 1984 film “Dune”. It also reminds me of an image in the book “Proof of Heaven” (books blog, March 30). The movie gets its astronomy right – it really can take years for souls to reach other planets, even at the speed of light. (But maybe consciousness can move faster than light, inside a mini black hole, transmitted inside a bizarre retrovirus --- sorry, that’s my idea).
There's also another idea, not explored here: what would it have been like for the World going through the invasion? How quickly would it take people to understand what was happening? That is a problem with some of these "After Earth" (or "Resident Evil") scenarios -- the cataclysm that set up the story seems artificial unless really explained (the same problem plagues NBC's series "Revolution"). My own novel takes place "while it happens".
The official site from Open Road is here.
Not many people attended this movie at Regal Easter Sunday afternoon. The scenery – whether around Shiprock in New Mexico or in Louisiana (the nations’ new film center) is breathtaking. (Remember Devil's Tower, from CE III?)
Wikipedia attribution link for Shiprock picture. I visited the area in May 1984 (after going to Lama near Taos).
Because of some themes in my own writing, this film made more sense to me than it did many reviewers. But the story still seemed to have some loose ends or holes. In this sort of writing, they are hard to plug.
The end credits had some interesting art work of possible extrasolar planets. Many would be tidally locked.