Friday, January 19, 2007

"Event Horizon" And the Nature of Chaos



I just saw the sci-fi/fantasy flick Event Horizon again. As usual, two things bother me about it.

One: The staggering visuals I remember from the large screen don't hold up at all in a home rental format.

Two: Dr. Weir spells it right out for you in this movie. The gravity drive of the Event Horizon hauls its crew into a "dimension of pure Chaos," and boy does it ever suck. You turn on the ship's engines, and next thing you know everyone's dissecting each other and eating barbed wire. Here is the central problem of the movie for me: he makes Chaos sound like a BAD thing. Worse, the movie makes CHAOS look an awful lot like ORDER.

Let me expand on this second point a little. When I watch this movie, the artificial black hole created by the ship's engines leads you nowhere but into your own subconscious, or as Jung would put it your "shadow side." I hate to break it to you, but there is nothing but Order in that dimension. As the ship starts to crawl inside the rescue party's minds and stir their fantasies with a stick, WHAT DO WE SEE?

>> A mom, who left her disabled son alone with the ex, sees him suffering in torment.

>> An officer racked with guilt who left a crewman behind in a burning spaceship is chased by the crewman's ghost. The ghost breathes fire at the fleeing officer.

>> A lonely widower is taunted by the naked ghost of his wife, a suicide.

All these people are racked with guilt. The ship picks up on that and gives them exactly what they think they deserve: a punishment that neatly fits the crimes they think they've committed. Spare me. Is there anything more Aneristic (orderly) than fitting the punishment to the crime? Fairness is one of the universal delusions of childhood, something we all outgrow after Life has punted us around like footballs for a couple of decades. A dimension where everyone gets what they deserve is the exact opposite of Chaos. It's a dimension of perfect, if painful, Order.

Remember that line from Oscar Wilde? "The good end happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means." There's your cold light of day, right there, people. Real outcomes and punishments are pretty freaking random. Or hadn't you noticed?

I'm not sure where the barbed wire comes in. Maybe my personal guilt complexes don't require it. I guess I can live with that.

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