Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone


         It's very hot these days with temperature only rising and, considering I can't stand that kind of heat very well, I'm getting an urge to shoot down the sun. It happens to me every summer. What I don't think of in moments like that, are repercussions of such an act. Without sun, every form of life on this planet would cease to exist. So if the sun was to die, what would you be willing to do to prevent it from happening? That's one of the questions director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland ask in their 2007 sci-fi movie called „Sunshine“.

         In the movie, the sun is dying, and the only way to save it is to deliver a massive bomb to its surface, activate it and sort of reignite the sun that way. The movie opens with spaceship Icarus II on its way to carry out that mission. As you can assume, there was Icarus I before that, which didn't succeed. The crew of Icarus II consists of eight people, mostly scientists, who are all convinced the mission will go well and they'll come back to Earth, or at least want to be, until things start to go wrong. It's an excellent study of human character under pressure, feelings of guilt (individual and collective) and coping with responsibility. And it doesn't just observe human reactions but also makes you question ideas of guilt, responsibility, dedication and bravery themselves. There are some ethical dilemmas present too. As well as the questioning of today almost universally accepted way of deciding (democracy) in extreme situations. As if that weren't enough the movie also tackles the question of faith. More precisely, faith in God. Information I found out reading on various Internet sites reveals that subject of faith was even more emphasized in Garland's screenplay but Boyle decided to tone it down in the movie. There is one more very interesting thing. Somewhat similar to „Prometheus“, which speaks of human fascination with the ones who created us, „Sunshine“ speaks of human fascination with the thing that keeps us alive. Many ancient civilizations worshiped the sun as a deity, but as the world slowly developed to what it is today, human fascination with the sun faded. Scientific explanations demystified it and, in our ever-increasing ignorance, we started taking it for granted. But for some the fascination still remains. As we can see from Kaneda's and Searle's death. Both of them sacrificed for the sake of the mission, but you can sense they wanted to go down in that particular way.

         It's not just all the things this movie deals with. What makes it great is how it deals with them. The characters are greatly written and superbly acted. You can feel all the fears, doubts and wishes even before you see them show. Visual effects and cinematography are great, as well as the haunting soundtrack. The screenplay is brilliantly simple yet incredibly effective. And on top of all, Boyle manages to turn it from sci-fi to horror halfway through without the characters, or the story, losing their credibility. In fact, you get even more immersed. While in the beginning it engages you intellectually, as the movie progresses you become more and more emotionally involved. 

         It's often the case in movies that one hero, with nothing to lose but his own life, is willing to do whatever it takes for the sake of others. Unlike that, here we have a group of ordinary people with much to lose but nevertheless putting the mission ahead of themselves. And it's worth telling it is done in a very realistic way, devoid of all melodramatic scenes usually present in stories like this one (ok, maybe there's one). In contrast, some of the scenes here are truly profoundly disturbing and emotional, poetic even, but to write more about them would do them no justice. You just have to see them for yourself. The crew of Icarus II was mesmerized by sunshine, and so will be you.


  1. ;)

    How does the film question democracy? I'm curious about that.

    1. Trust me, the best way to find out is to watch it yourself. :)