July / Aug 2012
Sci-Fi & Fantasy
used to be a small genre with a dedicated group of fans relegated to “geek status.” Only a geek could tell you the history of Peter Parker as Spider-man, reveal the inner workings of time travel, spend Friday nights curled up in front of The X-Files, or dress up for Comic Con. That has changed. More people have come to love sci-fi through the influx of super heroes on the big screen. Anyone with a few bucks in their pocket and a free afternoon can find out how Iron Man built his suit, who Superman‟s nemesis is, or which comic characters can appear in the same film franchise together, and which can‟t. (I‟ll give you a hint… you won‟t be seeing Spiderman in The Avengers!)
Coming issues: Sept/Oct: True Stories Halloween: Alfred Hitchcock Nov/Dec: Middle-earth Write for us! email@example.com
When I chose “Sci-Fi & Fantasy” for our summer issue, I assumed there‟d be more of the latter than the former. I figured most of my writers are bigger “fantasy fans” than “sci-fi geeks.” I am pleased to be wrong, which proves the increased fascination faraway worlds, aliens, and super heroes have on our culture. It isn‟t just boys
anymore that love sci-fi… female audiences have found a lot to love in the kick-butt heroines of the genre, who on and off tote FBI badges, guns, and on frequent occasions (or all the time, if you happen to be Helen Magnus) high heels. There is a lot more sci-fi in this issue than fantasy. I‟m not sorry. Scifi is a great communicator of spiritual truths. If you are a new fan of the genre or just starting out, I hope this terrific collection of thought-provoking articles looking at some of the more popular (and a few obscure) sci-fi and fantasy franchises will increase your interest in traveling to distant worlds, looking at the world with new eyes, or discovering that God is present in all things… even and perhaps particularly science fiction. There isn‟t room for them all. If I had my way, this issue would be 700 pages long and have articles on everything from Fringe to Sanctuary. But there are future issues for that. In the meantime, read on, stay happy… and live long and prosper. ■
Follow us on Twitter & Tumblr
The Ineffable Amy Pond Companion to Eleven
Seeking Light in Darkness The Legend of the Seeker
Not Bound by Time I’ll Never Forget You
Death & Salvation Smallville
The Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum
Hero of the Silver Screen Thor
Beauty of the Fantastical Stardust
Darth Vader Pop Culture‟s Most Beloved Villain 18 Don’t forget to visit our contributor blogs!
Grace Under Pressure Battlestar Galactica
Storybrooke Romance Once Upon a Time
Remembering Firefly Sci-fi television series
A Boy Named Merlin The BBC series
The First Sci-Fi Western
Heart, Hope & Heroes
A Better Class of Villain Loki in Thor & The Avengers
Far Planet, Familiar Struggle Karen Hancock‟s Arena
An Element of Trust The X-Files
Love & Death The Symbolism of The Fountain
John Carter Frequency
36 32 40
By Hannah Kingsley → visit blog
Science fiction is not for everyone but the TV-series Doctor Who captures a wider audience than typical out-of-this-world fare. The current BBC-produced series combines time-travel, British-isms, and a fun, young cast of actors including Matt Smith as the eleventh doctor, Arthur Darvill as Rory, and Karen Gillian as the ineffable Amy Pond. By incorporating a handful of old-school robots in addition to newer, more complex plot themes, the show helps provide a balance to a different approach to sci-fi. But regardless of the plot‟s highlights, what is most appealing to viewers are well-rounded characters that help make the show relatable and lend an aspect of believability to an otherwise unbelievable science-fiction world. One such character, introduced in 2010‟s season five, is Amy Pond. Played a Scottish actress, Amy Pond is the eleventh doctor‟s first companion. The Doctor meets her when she is a little girl and later returns when she is a young adult but still infatuated with her “imaginary” doctor. At first, Amy is not presented in the best light. She does everything wrong, she works as a kissagram, and she wears very short skirts. One can sense that she is a little rough around the edges, not entirely feminine, and not always puttogether. She is also a bit loud, rash, and does not care what people think about her. In short, she is the sort of girl others might tell to watch her words around their grandparents. Although first impressions of her may not serve well, throughout the series we encounter a growing young woman with more personality angles
than just that of a ne‟er-do-well with lean legs. In fact, some fans call Amy their favorite of the Doctor‟s companions, in part due to her trademark feistiness that proves more than superficial. Her character also fits well in the context of today‟s generational mindset. Many modern, progressive-culture young woman like it when the media represents the way they feel about womanhood. Female fictional characters should be funny as well as smart, attractive as well as strong. Amy is all of these things. Possibly more importantly, she‟s a horrible heroine. Now, before Doctor Who fans feel the need to defend Amy against such a statement, it is important to consider her role in the series. Amy is independent, speaks her mind, and does as she likes even if she does not end up making the wisest of choices. She is the “modern woman,” or at least a recent TVincarnation of her. What sets her apart from many such progressive female characters is not her great enlightenment, but the failure of her forward-thinking to do her any good whatsoever. She is brave. She is powerful. Her story is valuable and integral to the world of the Doctor. But she is never ready with a happy ending or easy conflict-resolution, and she often fails miserably at “saving the day.” She is safest not alone but when she is with the men that care the most about her: her husband Rory and the Doctor. Perhaps this relationship between her happiness and the closeness to those she cares about reveals some truths about more people than just the fictional Amy. She is happiest when involved in the lives of others, just as
independence does not serve people so well as interdependence, which is sometimes referred to as the more mature spiritual state. At heart, we may all be horrible heroines. We don‟t always listen, even if advice comes from the keeper of time. Like Amy, our thought life may not be perfect, which can result in embarrassing situations. We may go places we don‟t belong and end up scared or hurt. Not everyone has to worry about Daleks and alien life forms inhabiting the earth, but Amy Pond may be a better representation of flawed, spunky femininity than most would like to admit. A theme runs throughout her role in the series that ultimately points toward the idea of trust. Although Amy may not be the most well-behaved or look -before-you-leap sort of woman, one thing she does grow to be better at is trusting. She is like a picture of human faith: hopeful, doubtful at times, but when faith is true, it holds fast in difficult circumstances. Amy frequently has to have faith that Rory or the Doctor will be there when her independent streak is not enough to keep her safe or grounded. Her ability to exchange pride for humility is important, both for her physical safety and her spiritual well-being. While it may not be the best idea to emulate Amy in terms of dress or the more wayward habits she can be given to at times, her choice to trust even when it means being humbled is something that should not be taken for granted. Especially when it might make the difference between saving the world well or doing so badly. ■
By Hannah C. Price
God can be found in dark places, at dark times, in mysterious ways. In the world of The Seeker, God is present but hidden from plain sight. He is known as the Creator, the bringer of light, beauty, and life. You wouldn‟t know that scanning through any of the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind; a deeper search is needed to discover a multifaceted work of philosophical and moral significance. At first look, it is a traditional fairytale with a likely cast of characters: a handsome hero, a beautiful heroine, and a grandfatherly wizard fighting to save the world from evil. These are Richard Cypher, the Seeker of Truth, Kahlan Amnell, Mother Confessor (she has the power to bring people under her control with one touch), and Zedd, a wizard of great power. They are united to hunt down and destroy evil, bringing balance and restoring peace. When authors set out to fashion a fantasy world, the result is a blend of their worldview, personal experiences, invention and the desire to make sense of their beliefs. Goodking‟s books are full of philosophical influences and spiritual undertones. These influences are Objectivistic, a worldview marked by an emphasis on individualism, reason, a rejection of blind faith and a firm grounding in reality. The ultimate purpose of life in this belief system is to find individual happiness and fulfillment. Objectivism and the faith of Christianity have opposing views, one focusing on the here and now and the latter on the hereafter. But lest you dismiss the series too readily, let‟s take a deeper look under the surface. The hero‟s belief is, life is sacred and beautiful, not something to be treated lightly or thrown away rashly. At first, Richard is an idealistic trail guide, embracing nature and a simple reality. His life is altered by the intrusion of
lies, secrets, barriers and artificiality as he embarks into the world as the Seeker. Richard matures and learns to cope with these unfortunate realities, but longs to help others realize the beauty and sanctity of life. He doesn‟t conform to people‟s expectations or blindly accept harsh realities. He wants to change the world so that everyone can live life to the fullest and pursue their dreams. Wherever he goes and whatever situation he finds himself in, Richard always finds a way to best evil. His faith in goodness and his leadership earn him a following, redeeming former captors and tormentors alike. Redemption features prominently; a good example is the transformation of the Mord‟sith, an elite group of girls trained in the art of torture and domination. Before Richard came along, they were Darken Rahl‟s right hand, carrying out his orders with merciless brutality. After Rahl‟s defeat, Richard becomes their lord and master. Under his guidance, many of them morph into strong leaders. Another example is Nicci, a sorceress who captures Richard and torments Kahlan in a search for meaning. After a long, hard struggle her heart is transformed, and she becomes a champion for peace. Religious influences are apparent. The Imperial Order is reminiscent of the Inquisition, and the Sisters of the Light strongly resemble nuns. God is found in the likeness of the Creator, a deity worshipped by both the Imperial Order and Sisters of the Light. But the Order twists the Creator‟s intentions, turning faith in a loving and gracious Almighty into a works-based cult that bends faith into a dark power trip. This brings to mind the Catholic Church preceding Martin Luther and the Reformation, a power-hungry institution in need of revival. In
contrast, the Sisters of the Light embrace the Creator as a merciful deity, a giver of light, life, power and magical talents. The debate between determinism and free will is also addressed. The Sisters believe in prophecy, adhering to it strictly and acting on their interpretations of it without realizing the power of free will. But Richard is a passionate believer in free will who fights the idea of a pre-determined fate. Both free will and determinism are shown to be viable, for what is prophesied through the Creator‟s foretelling comes to pass through the choices that are made. Probably the most prominent issue is reason vs. faith. As Christians, we know God is not hidden from us or asking us to believe Him on “blind faith.” He has revealed Himself to us through specific (the Bible) and general revelation (Creation). Science, history, archeology, art, and every other pursuit give us a glimpse into the heart and mind of our Creator. Christians don‟t need to view “reason” and “faith” as two rival doctrines. Our minds aren‟t designed to be sealed off from logic but to be actively used in pursuing truth. We don‟t need to be afraid of reason because our faith should be reinforced by it as we keep our eyes on Christ in the present and our hearts fixed on the hereafter. Despite the Objectivism in this series, there is also an appreciation of life, beauty, nature, and honesty. Some aspects of it are downright ugly but the beautiful elements found in its pages shine brightly when philosophical views are momentarily set aside and the Creator, our Creator, is allowed to reveal Himself as the light ever present in the darkness. ■
By Patti Gardner → visit blog
What if we were not bound by the constraints of time? What if traveling between centuries was as effortless as traveling between different time zones? What if going to sleep in one time period and waking up in another was not only doable, but probable? What if one could find the greatest love they have ever known in a time period other than the one in which they have lived the majority of their days? Would any of you be up for that? I would… without question. To me, the idea of time travel is among the most romantic notions ever, and when a story of this kind of love (a love not bound by time) is brought to life by Tyrone Power and Ann Blyth, it is even more romantic and beautiful. In I’ll Never Forget You, from 1951, American physicist Peter Standish (Tyrone Power) has been doing atomic research at a laboratory in England. Although firmly established in the 20th century, the somewhat reclusive Dr. Standish, who doesn‟t do much socially, lives in an 18th-century home left to him by a distant relative. With the exception of electricity and plumbing, the house is virtually as it was in 1784, and Peter likes it that way. Through the diary of his long-dead ancestor (also Peter Standish) he discovers that at one point in his life, his namesake claimed to be from the future and maintained he could foretell history. A few days after making that insane-sounding declaration, the man was normal again and went on to marry and have a family. Dr. Standish comes to believe he was the man from the future and he and the 18th-century Peter exchanged places for a time. He tells his friend Roger (Michael Rennie) that he is going back to the 18th century. Roger
thinks Peter is being fanciful and even suggests that the house isn‟t good for him. After being hit by a bolt of lightning, however, Peter does go back in time. On the very date the 18th-century Peter Standish arrived in England, current-day Peter is transported there. From the beginning, everyone thinks he is odd, since he knows things that haven‟t happened yet, and when he begins to speak of people as though they were dead, everyone begins to fear him. Eventually, he makes the claim in the diary, that he is from the future, a claim which finds Peter sentenced to an asylum. Though he knows from the diary that Peter will marry Kate, current day Peter falls in love with Helen (Ann Blyth). Though Helen is engaged to another man, she falls in love with Peter as well and, while others think he is crazy, Helen completely believes that he is from the future. Despite their deep and abiding love for each other, the centuries-different
lovers know that Peter will one day have to return to the future and therefore that they are destined to part, but Helen assures him that their love will be for always… not in her time or his time… but in God‟s time. How God brings these two back into each others‟ lives will play out in the balance of the film. I’ll Never Forget You is an amazingly romantic film, with a completely fascinating storyline. As one who has long-loved the idea of time travel, I was into this movie from minute one. The love of Helen and Peter is beautiful and timeless. Blyth is stunning, and Power is incredibly handsome; the acting of both is quite good. The filming is lovely as well; all scenes in the past are in color, while present day events are black and white. All these things combine for a lovely chick flick. If you are a fan of time-travel romances, you will definitely not want to miss it. And maybe after watching it, like me, you will wish that time travel was as common as any other kind of travel. ■
By Charity Bishop → visit blog
The best obsessions begin by chance: a conversation with a stranger, a spontaneous choice in the library… you pick up, read, or hear something that forever changes your life. For me, that was Smallville. It may have been about Clark Kent‟s journey toward becoming Superman, but as a Christian, I saw elements of my faith in it. It was about more than teenage angst; for me it was about faith. Smallville‟s defining point is the relationship between future archenemies Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. Lex is a capable, intelligent young man raised without any defining morals. His friendship with Clark aspires him to strive for self-betterment, but over the years, Lex slides further into darkness due to the continual rejection and distrust of those around him. From his father‟s attempts to humiliate him to the Kent family‟s reluctance to trust him, Lex as a character reveals the harsh truth that our choices define who we become, far more than who we are in the moment. Superman has always been a Christ figure. He is not of this world but was sent by his father to “save” it. Jor-El chose Jonathan and Martha to raise his son; God chose Joseph and Mary. Clark has a destiny beyond that of his friends, something he works toward that comes into fruition after he has gone through tests and trials. Clark‟s befriending of Lex is not an accident. He “saves” Lex physically but cannot save his soul because rather than accept this free gift Lex wants to know more about it. He wants the power that comes with it. This leads him to question and conflict with Clark as Lex takes after his father, Lionel. If Clark is the Savior in Smallville, Lionel is its Satan. He enters a small community and blackmails the locals
into business transactions. Luthor Corp is behind most of the evils that transpire in town. He never wastes an opportunity to humiliate, berate, or hurt his son, whom he hates, because Lionel sees Lex as an inferior, weaker version of himself. Lex is Mankind, yearning for a Savior but born sinful and under the temporary control of a brutal, cruel “earthly father.” His kinship with Clark has potential to save him, just as his budding romance with Lana Lang offers him a chance at happiness, but out of a desire to “have it all” (wealth and power) he rejects both and takes his father‟s place as a villain. In the end, Lionel gets what he wanted from the beginning: a ruthless, amoral son who shoves him out a twenty story window to his death without a shred of remorse. The series preaches the secular idea that circumstances shape who we become; while that may be part of it, our choices ultimately define us. One tenth season episode shows us who Clark might have been if his father had not chosen the Kents to raise him. In Lionel‟s home, he is brutal, lethal and untrustworthy. He is responsible for the death of Lex, has an affair with his stepsister, and is wholly out of control. Through this, the series implies that Lionel, and ultimately even Clark, are to blame for Lex‟s eventual corruption. He is, after all, the direct result of his father‟s upbringing… or is he? Lex has many chances to redeem himself. He could choose to be good and keep his relationship with Lana and Clark. He doesn‟t. While Clark‟s decision to abandon him does play a part in his slow descent, Lex chooses who he becomes; it is not forced upon him. He gives up being good because it is hard and surrenders to a fate he could avoid, much as how we as sinners can‟t overcome our sinful
inclinations on our own; we need Christ to take them on for us. Clark‟s role as a savior in the final season is shown in startling clarity. He faces doubt, isolation from his father, is betrayed, dies/resurrects (multiple times), confronts old enemies, defeats Darkseid, does not succumb to the Seven Deadly Sins, recruits followers, saves his friends from utter darkness, and fulfills his destiny. He even redeems young Conner (a depiction of humanity, equal in heavenly inspiration and sinful tendencies) by freeing him from his “evil” origins, as Christ‟s role in our lives removes us from sin and extends us grace. Lois Lane represents the Church, at times fearful but placing her faith in a savior that she is convinced will not forsake her. Even when he is gone for months, she still plans the wedding and prepares for their life together on faith that he will return. Her gradual acceptance of Clark as a hero reminds me of my own faith: full of mistakes as I struggle to know and trust Him, but making me a better person in the process. Lois can save herself sometimes, but she still needs him. Even the theme of the last season (life, death, rebirth, eternal love) is the message of salvation: He lived, He died, He rose again, and through His eternal love, we are reborn. Maybe Smallville is best known for its monsters of the week, its snappy and clever dialogue, and its often wonderful and at times frustrating characters, but it also taught me it is okay to have faith in someone, and it‟s also okay to need a savior. And for that, it holds a special place in my heart. ■
By Veronica Leigh → visit blog
Everyone remembers the first time they watched The Wizard of Oz. At the very least they remember the impact it had on their childhood and how it inspired their innocent imagination. They sympathized with Dorothy or the Scarecrow, the Tin Man or the Cowardly Lion, and by the end learned that there truly is “No place like home!” But the legend of Oz doesn‟t begin with MGM. Oz goes back a half a century further, to a dreamer who loved to entertain his sons with stories. Born on May 15, 1856, L. Frank Baum didn‟t find his niche in life until he found Oz. For a time he worked in the theater, but after he married he opened a store. That business venture fell through and he was soon bankrupt. After that, he began a career in writing and supplemented his income by working as a traveling salesman. Ever the storyteller, Baum amused his children and others by creating a fantasy world called “Oz.” To this day, there are conflicting reports as to where the name originated. One theory persists that in Baum‟s office there was a cabinet, with one half of the alphabet divided into the section A-N and the second O-Z. Another story is that as he entertained the children, he loved to hear their “ooh‟s and ahh‟s.” Whatever its origins, Oz left an impression on all, including his mother-in-law who encouraged him to write down his stories. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 to critical acclaim. The story opens on a bleak Kansas prairie with little Dorothy Gale, who lives with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. Her little dog Toto is her one
consolation whilst living in such a dusty and depressing place. One day, inside the farmhouse, Dorothy and Toto are transported in a cyclone to the magical Land of Oz. The house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, the evil ruler of the Munchkins. This begins her travels to seek the Wizard of Oz, whom she believes can send her home again. Along the way she befriends Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. The four overcome various obstacles and confront the Wicked Witch of the West before Dorothy learns she had the power to go home all along. Clicking her heals together three times, she wishes to go home and is reunited with her family in Kansas. Early on, attempts were made to bring this beloved classic to the big screen, first through the silent films. It was only after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that MGM opted to make its own movie directed towards young audiences. Through several directors and many writers, a film capturing the beauty of innocence and magic emerged. Baum‟s basic story remained the same but some of it was altered to compensate for length, special effects and creativity. The Wizard of Oz was filmed as a musical and has many dance sequences and elaborate numbers. The magical silver slippers were changed to ruby. The Wicked Witch of the West was transformed into the prime villain. The Good Witch of the North and the Queen of the Field Mice became a single benevolent witch called “Glinda the Witch of the North.” To contrast the Sepia toned Kansas, scenes featuring the exotic Land of Oz were filmed in Technicolor. The first
choice to play Dorothy Gale was Judy Garland, even though New York offices preferred the adorable Shirley Temple. However when FOX refused to loan Temple out, Garland was in and the role propelled her to stardom. Buddy Ebsen was first selected to play the Scarecrow and Ray Bolger the Tin Man. Bolger‟s heart was set on portraying the Scarecrow so he went to Mr. Mayer‟s office and demanded to have the role. His persistence won out. Ebsen didn‟t mind switching to the Tin Man until the aluminum dust in his makeup caused him an allergic reaction and he wound up in the hospital. Jack Haley took his place. Bert Lahr brought hilarity to the character of the Cowardly Lion, despite her congenial nature, Margaret Hamilton was casted as the Wicked Witch of the West, and to complete the main cast, Frank Morgan was the bumbling Wizard. Hundreds of little people from all over the world made their cinematic debut as the Munchkins. Many of the principle actors attested that while they loved The Wizard of Oz, it was an extremely difficult movie to film. Between the uncomfortable costumes, unfortunate accidents, and often dangerous conditions, it was a wonder it was ever completed. Over a hundred years have lapsed since the book was published and seventy years have passed since the movie debuted but time has not diminished the unfading love for The Wizard of Oz. It grows stronger with each generation. ■
By Ricci C. → visit blog
What is it about a hero that instantly grabs our attention? Is it because we love cheering them on? Because of their honest-to-goodness attitude that is nothing if not pure? Or is it something more complicated? Do we relish their presence on the screen because they remind us what it means to stand up and fight for all we believe in? To be a proud American? Being swept off one‟s feet or rescued by a superhero in a cool costume may not be a realistic expectation, but it doesn‟t change our view of the heroic gestures that get our pulses racing and touch something inside us. In the last year, we were asked to take a journey back in time with the first guardian, the all-American soldier from WWII, Steve Rodgers. He only wanted to serve his country and saw that dream realized in his alter ego, Captain America. We have formed a love-hate attachment to the cocky Iron Man whose Tony Stark first built an empire before he could fly. All four of Marvel‟s well-known heroes demanded our consideration with the release of their blockbuster, The Avengers. The first Marvel Avenger I met was the reckless god of thunder, Thor. Here was a character I loved, but a story I thought wasn‟t well paced, where as Captain America was the opposite: brilliant albeit setting more of a sluggish pace and a character we all fell head over heels in love with. (It wasn‟t just me… right?) The narrative of Thor backgrounds not just the titular character‟s beginnings—days consisting of nothing but partying and abusing his father‟s trust and respect —but also that of his family. Revealing that the brother who always secretly resented Thor is actually not a blood member of their family does not take long. But it isn‟t until Thor is banished
to the world he doesn‟t know (earth) that he begins to realize humility and everything he must become before he can earn the right to his father‟s kingdom of Asgard. What follows is on the surface a good time with hints of romanticism and cool special effects. But if you dig a little bit deeper, I think we enjoy the story for its larger significance: it is a story about a character learning that he must care about others more than his own desires. In part, what brings that about is the realization that his choices do affect others, but also Thor simply becomes more humane by having to interact with them. Here again is a symbolic story, containing elements of religious ideology, but with a twist: Thor is sent to earth by his father not to save it, but as a form of punishment. He learns from his time among humans whereas in Christian theology, the figure of Christ was sent to save them. When a story has something to say that is positive, not insignificant, the folly becomes second straw and the genuine heart is what triumphs. Here, the story is as much about Thor growing into the kind of man his father would be proud of as it is about villains and heroes. In it, Thor becomes a guy who can carry the metaphorical weight of the world on his shoulders. He starts off with an attitude, as a reckless and arrogant jerk. His selfishness makes him destructive, and his family and father‟s kingdom reap the consequences. His entire stance is changed when he must choose between a life of his choosing or protecting his realm. That is where Thor, irrespective of its pettiness, succeeds most, in asking us to confront similar selfish weaknesses in ourselves. Who among us has not thought of what is best for me before
stopping to think about how our actions might impact the other people in our life? Though we have all been tempted, it cannot be denied that one of the greatest gifts we‟ve been given is the choice to be selfish or unselfish. Thor hits us between the eyes with the lesson his father wishes him to learn: actions speak louder than words. The gift he walks away with from his time with the human race is not just what it takes to be a leader but also what it means to look out for someone other than himself. The guy who once thought he hadn‟t any responsibilities may have become just another dude with a white knight complex, but his ultimate sacrifices prove otherwise. Pretend or not, action figure notwithstanding, in the heart of Thor beats pure motivations and a will to never back down. Maybe that is why his actions speak to us as they do. Though filmed purely to introduce us to Thor and Loki before The Avengers, this film does impart something to contemplate. There is more to comic book heroes than sheer romanticism, or even the excitement of seeing an epic battle between good and evil unfold in all its HD glory on the big screen. Thor may not be of this world, but the spirit of determination, bravery and eventual selflessness that drives him is very much the same spirit that Americans aspire to. Though we may have forgotten what it means to be an American who isn‟t afraid to stand up and rebel, we are given the perfect examples to aspire to. First, we must learn the lesson Thor did. He may be weary but his fight isn‟t. Maybe it is time we take up the fight right alongside him, and decide to make a difference in our world. ■
“The old fairytales endure forever. The old fairytale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle him because he is normal.” —G.K. Chesterton
There is something undeniably fascinating about fairytales. Are we drawn to them because of the fact that there is a world in our own minds that we can create and shape to our liking? Fairytales present us with the notion that, in our imaginations, there are worlds unexplored and unexplainable. Worlds where adventures are possible, heroes are real and love is perfected. The world we are introduced to in Stardust is both mysterious and beautiful. Scattered with pirates, kings, witches, fair maidens, knights and heroes is a young man who sets out on a quest to win the heart of a fair maiden. Sound like your typical fairytale? Definitely. One of the lines that stood out to me in the movie is, “What do stars do? They shine.” To me, fairytales have always been a bit like the stars. Perhaps it‟s the way they display that small, brilliant bit of light in the vast darkness of the endless, sky—that flickering beauty. Or maybe we are drawn to the mystery of the unknown, the fantastical. Fairytales remind us the world is bigger then what we can see with the naked eye; it is bigger then just us.
beauty who toys with boys‟ hearts as if they exist solely for her personal amusement. Tristan is naive and thus unable to see the girl whom he seeks to win is self centered and vain. When he (barely) manages to gain her attention, they witness a star falling across the sky. She tells him the way to win her heart is to fetch her that star. She must have been laughing on the inside. Fetch a star? Impossible. Tristan is young & full of imagination —and, as so often common in heroes, he is certain that anything is possible. The denial of reality coupled with a confidence of success makes it easy to have an unabashed admiration of a hero—someone willing to risk the impossible, someone who will face anything because of the love they bear for us. We love that someone who isn‟t afraid to lasso the moon.
Stardust is not the first fairytale to remind us that sometimes love comes to us where we least expect it, but it may be the first to present the idea in such a fantastical, unique way. Though not a child‟s film, the story, like the hero, is almost childlike in its imagery—the scenery and characters leap out of the screen, enveloping you in their world, drawing you in with the promise of spinning your imagination in the direction of daring sword fights and fantastical adventures.
An element especially poignant in fairytales is the love story generally prevalent in them—Stardust being no exception. The need and desire for love is something many of us cannot deny, and when it is presented to us in the glory of a fairytale (where love conquers all!), it is irresistible. As we grow older, we can pretend the need for love does not exist as we hide behind our pain and insecurities, but the fact remains that we were created with two great needs—to be loved and give love. The younger we are, the simpler that is to understand. The less we‟ve experienced of the world and those who would hurt us, the more open we are to the idea that love is fantastical. Perhaps this is another reason fairytales appeal to us. It brings out our innocent inner-child.
When we first meet our naive young hero, he is smitten. Tristan wants nothing more then to win the heart of Victoria, a girl in his village, a blond
In Stardust, Tristan sets out on his journey with high hopes and eagerness. He is young, perhaps a bit foolish, but he is determined. He
By Jessica McDonald → visit blog
never expected to find, where the star should be, a beautiful girl with sparkling eyes—a girl, named Yvaine, who will eventually win his heart as he wins hers, a girl for whom he will risk everything to save her from an evil witch who wants her heart (literally). What follows is a story of adventure, peril, excitement, and the realization that when you fight on the side of what is good and right, victory is certain. Stardust, though in some ways predictable, is also unexpected as far as fairytales go. Pirates in the sky? A star that‟s really a beautiful girl? Perhaps not your regular recipe for a fairytale—but the idea is the same. So that brings us back to the original question—what is it we love about fairytales? J.R.R. Tolkien once wisely said, “A Fairytale does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat… giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy; Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.” That glimpse of joy is what you find in Stardust and in fairytales like it: the hope, and the joy we have in that hope. In the climactic, final scenes of Stardust, the villain is defeated and the maiden and hero are united. Isn‟t that what fairytales are all about? Isn‟t that why we love them? The answer should be an emphatic “Yes!” Fairytales remind us that the side of Good has the Victory! No matter what, Good wins in the end. The dragon has been defeated, the hero has won the day, love is triumphant and Happily Ever After is just beyond the horizon. ■
By Shannon H. → visit blog
When most people think of Star Wars, characters like Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo come to mind. They think of Jedis, Ewoks, and Stormtroopers, planets like Hoth, Tatooine, Endor, Dagobah, and Naboo. However, the fictional world of Star Wars is not without villains. Darth Vader, a fallen Jedi Knight, is the main villain in the series and considered a pop culture icon of evil, even more so than Sauron from The Lord of the Rings or Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. Despite his evil status, he is beloved by legions of Star Wars fans worldwide. From books to even a YouTube web series, Darth Vader appears to be more entertaining than simply as the father of the young hero, Luke Skywalker. Before Darth Vader, he was Anakin, a smart and talented boy with the potential to become a Jedi Knight. He was discovered by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi -Wan Kenobi as a child working as a slave who had a talent for building pod racers as well as racing them (all of this is nicely summarized in the “Weird Al” Yankovic song parody, The Saga Begins). He eventually becomes a Jedi apprentice under Obi -Wan but is seduced by the evil ideas of the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader, a man with the talent for good but a desire for power. His rise to power makes him memorable but his overbearing personality gives him an enduring appearance. The more entertaining side of Darth Vader comes out in a variety of media such as books, television, the Internet, and others. The cuter part of the Dark Side was seen in a 2011
Volkswagen commercial featuring a young boy in a Darth Vader costume “using” The Force unsuccessfully on household objects until he succeeds in turning on his father‟s car (his dad helped with the keyless remote). Most people know that despite Darth Vader fathering Luke Skywalker, he never raised him to adulthood. Illustrator Jeffrey Brown‟s book, Darth Vader and Son, explores the idea of Darth Vader actually raising his 4-year-old twins Luke and Leia. The book features father and son going on outings, dealing with sibling conflict, and even wrestling with the question “where do babies come from?” On YouTube, a popular web series titled Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager explores the idea of Darth Vader having a brother named Chad who works as a daytime grocery store manager dealing with everyday hi-jinks from dealing with the ghost of a deceased employee to a cleaning machine that keeps yelling “exterminate” (a nod to the
popular Doctor Who television series). Aside from visual media, there are several comics and Star Wars conventions where fans dress up as Darth Vader (the cost for a costume can reach upwards in the hundreds of dollars). Darth Vader stands out among other villains as entertaining; his mannerisms are seen as funny by some (the Chad Vader web series is a good example). His appearance alone is considered scary and evil (not something you want to see in a dark alley). However, he also looks really cool; his clothing gives off an epic villain vibe that one doesn‟t see in Lord Voldemort or Sauron (how often do folks dress up either one of them at pop culture conventions?). Despite being a bad guy, he is still beloved and admired by legions of Star Wars fans all over the world due to his memorable personality, appearance, and style. ■
By Charity Bishop → visit blog
What makes us human? Our ability to reason, create, have independent thought, our soul? Could a non-human also have a soul and be part of a bigger plan? This is the question of Battlestar Galactica, considered by many to be the greatest sci-fi series of all time. Following humanity on the brink of extinction by their enemies, a robotic force known as the Cylons, it shows a desperate ongoing fight for survival as well as explores the existence and beliefs of the Cylons, some of whose identities are not revealed until the very end. Full of provocative statements about humanity and intellectual debate that ranges from the distinction between right and wrong to contrasting the difference in civilian and military perspectives, its characters are realistic and relatable through their individual struggles; none are perfect and all play a pivotal role in the outcome. Our assumptions about who to trust are challenged, forcing us to redefine our view of what makes a person or a cause “good” or “bad.” It is tempting to dismiss the Clyons‟ desire to wipe out mankind as evil, but are they? Or are they just fighting for their own survival? Is this a war in which we can only root for one side, or can we see merit in both? This refusal to formulaic and ask hard questions sets BSG apart from most sci -fi. None of the choices faced are easy… does Admiral Adama risk the lives of the entire fleet to save one ship, or sacrifice a few for many? Even when wrong choices are made, it is often for the “right reason,” leaving us to debate inwardly our moral objections and rationalize them out with logic. When Laura Roslin tries to rig the presidential election, we know if her adversary wins, the consequences will be devastating. Her reasons do not make her actions any more forgivable … do they?
We never forget these faces once we are introduced to them, or the situation most are confronted with. While there are many memorable relationships, between sons and fathers, friends, and lovers, the one that stands out the most to me is between Admiral Adama and Laura Roslin, the president of the colonies. At first they do not see eye to eye. Both are thrust into sudden positions of power and responsibility, and out of a deep and abiding respect for one another develops a moving love story. Because Laura is dying of cancer, their romance is formed of an intentional choice to love in spite of future loss, which makes their final moments together incredibly moving. BSG pays homage to the military with respectful consideration of the choices the men and women of the armed forces are forced to make… choices between life and death that at times require distasteful actions for the preservation of life. Even though we, at times, do not approve of all their tactics, never are they vilified. Instead, they are shown as heroic, brave, willing to sacrifice their lives for others, and utterly human, right down to their fears, insecurities, friends, and mistakes. Beneath the moral gray areas and complexities that define BSG is an unexpected religious element. While the allegory is polluted with immorality, it‟s still blatant; the Twelve Cylon models may reference the Twelve Apostles (or the Twelve Tribes of Israel). This “super-human” race does not share the pagan faith of mankind in multiple gods, but believes in One God. He arranges outcomes according to His will. Their attempt to destroy mankind forces us to ponder whether BSG bashes Christianity or references its continuing survival over the centuries. What does it all mean?
Is Six‟s sexual affair with Gaius a warped reference to evangelism? Is Gaius‟ view of Six based on his own lustful nature, which begins to fade when he finds faith in God? In many ways, it is as much about his redemption as it is anything else. Even the eventual discovery of Earth and its colonization brings about the scriptural fulfillment of early prophecy, fulfilling Six‟s prediction that all of them will play an important role in what is to come. The character of Starbuck is in both worlds, a character that dies, returns to show them the way and disappears once more. It isn‟t straight-up allegory, and the final episodes bring to light the Mormon theology of the writers, but it leaves the audience much to consider on multiple levels. What does BSG say about faith and humanity? It is only when faith is adopted, when paganism fades, when two cultures learn to live in harmony, that contentment and fulfillment of a Greater Purpose is achieved. What are we left with? A series that frequently strays into muddied morality but also asks its audience to dig deeper, to question their beliefs and opinions, to see both sides of every issue and make hard decisions right along with these flawed but wonderful characters. This is not a world in which anything is black and white or obvious, but in which we must involve our minds as much as our hearts; a world in which disgust surfaces at the selfish actions of some, but we rejoice at the redemption of others. BSG is a series that dares to be different, dares to be controversial, and dares to force us to ask the hard questions simply because they need to be asked. ■
By Rachel Sexton
Four little words famously begin every fairytale. When the creators of Once Upon a Time chose them as the title for their new series, the message was clear—this show is both the classic fairytale you expect and the beginning of a new story. Once Upon a Time is one example of the recent resurgence of the genre and the most successful. It captures the hearts of fans by building on the universally appealing elements of fairytales with unpredictable writing, superb performances, and spectacular production values. The most important factor is the instantly recognizable narratives. Snow White and Prince Charming are at odds with Snow‟s stepmother the Evil Queen. The very first scene is the iconic moment when Charming kisses Snow‟s unconscious form in her glass coffin and wakes her. The Evil Queen threatened them on their wedding day, telling them she would destroy their happiness. She created a powerful curse that takes the entire fairytale world to a place where they will not remember anything about who they are—our world. Thankfully, there is a solution: a savior will arrive in 28 years to break the curse and lead a final battle to restore all the happy endings: Snow and Charming‟s daughter, Emma. The shifting of the narratives we think we know in ways like this becomes a trademark of the show as it goes on. The writers are adept at crafting romance and action that feels completely like the fairytales we‟re used to and then they throw in an unpredictable twist. Aside from the wonder the magic of fairytales can instill in a viewer, the sense of emotion and adventure is also what makes them popular. These writers handle that well and take it a step further. Any viewer of Lost will remember its use of flashbacks and non-linear storytelling. For Once, the
method of gradually revealing information follows a similar format. As chronological events transpire in Storybrooke, the town in Maine where all the fairytale characters live without their memories and without aging, we also see scenes from their previous fairytale lives that pertain to whatever is happening in our world at the time. What this allows the writers to do is create a rich blend of all fairytales and other classic children‟s stories into one expanded world. The Mad Hatter, for example, shows up in an episode in which the audience discovers that all fictional storybook worlds (such as Wonderland and Oz) can be reached into with enough magic. Also, though the Evil Queen is the central villain, the fascinatingly complex character of Rumplestiltskin (is he bad or good?) is front and center in the machinations of both worlds. Furthermore, crossing over the stories into two time frames also allows for wonderful repetition of parallel dialogue and scenes. A lot of the Snow White and Prince Charming romance is built around them telling each other, “I will always find you.” And that is just one example. Another characteristic of the writing for this show needs to be commended. The storytellers shaping each episode have a real knack for progressing the linear plot of Storybrooke in the heightened, fantastical tone of fairytales. People waking up from comas, kidnappings, affairs, deaths — the events in Storybrooke prove that fairytales might be considered the original soap operas! Of course, it goes without saying that the themes of love conquering all and good triumphing over evil span over both time frames. Because the series airs on ABC, owned by the same conglomerate as the Walt Disney Company, the extensive history of fairytales animated by Disney is fully available for the writers to draw
upon and reference in the scripting, as well as in any visual detail they can think of. Fans will definitely recognize some of the princess costumes seen on the actresses in some episodes, and that is only the beginning. Where else can you see Disney princesses (or in some cases, Disney villains) interact with one another on screen? None of the stories are simple; none of the bad guys are wholly evil; just when we think we have a character figured out, they surprise us. (Wait until you see where Belle winds up!) The steady high ratings for Once Upon a Time earned it a renewal for a second season. This shows how popularity for fairytales has spiked in recent years. Another new show for the 2011 television season was Grimm, a modern police procedural take on fairytales that was also firm enough in ratings for a second season. Two film versions of the Snow White tale (one dark and full of eye-popping visuals and the other a more campy comedy) arrived in theaters this year as well. Plus, bigscreen versions of Jack and the Beanstalk and Hansel and Gretel have been filmed and will be released in the near future. Clearly, something in the public imagination is responding to fairytales! The things that make Once Upon a Time so entertaining is uniqueness and creativity. It leaves us waiting in anticipation of discovering which of our favorite fairytale figures will appear next (here‟s a hint, Sleeping Beauty has been cast!) and how this take on their life will differ from the one we know so well. The magical spell of fairytales doesn‟t seem like it will be broken anytime soon. Once Upon a Time will resonate with viewers until they see the characters live happily ever after. ■
By Carissa Horton → visit blog
Ten years ago Joss Whedon created a sci-fi masterpiece of satiric wit and charm, Firefly. It lasted only fourteen episodes but each one is unforgettable. Anyone who‟s seen it remembers the obnoxious Captain Malcolm Reynolds, his loyal 1st officer Zoe, who married Hoban Washburne, the pilot of Mal‟s ship Serenity; the spunky mechanic Kalee, Shepherd Book, a preacher they picked up along the way, a charming companion named Inara, irritating Jayne can‟t keep his big mouth shut and the mysterious River Tam, who was kidnapped by the Alliance until her brother Simon, a doctor, plotted her escape. This is Serenity’s crew, chock-full of misfits, malcontents and individuals of a violent sort. Perfect characters tend to be dull. This might be why Joss Whedon continues to deliver hit television shows, even those canceled barely into their first season. His characters are imperfect, a complex jumble of emotions and choices, some good, some bad. Every single one except maybe Shepherd and Kaylee can be hated at some point. Mal is very flawed. There are many times I shake my head at his idiotic and even dangerous choices. Yet I‟m still behind him, because it can‟t be easy to captain a crew when they‟re flying under the radar of the Alliance. Serenity’s crewmembers are space pirates. Mal was on the “wrong” side of the war, meaning his side lost. He has no love for the Alliance so keeping a steady, respectable job is the last thing on his mind. All he wants is to be left alone, without interference from outside sources. He wants to lead his crew as he sees fit and live his life the same. This makes him a tad on the rebellious side, which explains why they‟re always in tough spots. Mal is violent but looks after his own. Once someone becomes a part of
Serenity’s crew, no matter how odd they may be, they‟re family. Mal isn‟t keen on harboring Alliance fugitives like Simon and River Tam. But still he does. He has plenty of opportunities to leave River and Simon behind and I‟m sure he contemplated all of them. But Serenity needed a doctor and Simon was awfully available. In their line of work injuries are the rule, not the exception. The longer Simon and River stayed on board, the more invaluable they became to Mal and his crew. Even though River suffered from what the Alliance did to her and at times dove off the deep end mentally, Mal still refused in every case to just abandon them. Don‟t get me wrong, there were moments when it appeared that suddenly the Tams weren‟t a part of his family anymore, but he always thought twice about the decision and did the right thing. That‟s what Firefly is about really, trying to decide right and wrong when a grey area makes it nearly impossible. Mal muddies the water of lawful justice and governmental right and wrong, but his personal choice of right and wrong was never muddied. I‟d never claim that Malcolm is a pillar of virtue. He certainly isn‟t on many levels of morality. But like many men of the Old West, Malcolm lives by a code of honor, a creed as it were. There are some things he just won‟t do and neither would his crew. One episode has Mal stealing goods at the behest of a very influential and dangerous man. It turns out the crates are filled with medicinal supplies to counteract a horrific epidemic amongst miners on a certain planet. Mal doesn‟t hesitate. He and Zoe deliver the medicine and when the Sheriff of that small town mentions that he had a choice all Mal can respond with is that, in this case, there was no choice. He would never mess with the lives of unfortunate and dying
people, even if it meant running from an entirely new danger—the man who hired him to do the job—Mal will still do what he sees as the right thing. I don‟t just watch science fiction to see massive space ship battles and grotesque aliens, as entertaining as they are. I watch it when I‟m deeply involved in the story and sincerely care about the characters, even the jerks like Jayne. There has to be a reason for a show to hold my focus. For Firefly it is the belief that Mal will try (to the best of his ability) to do the right thing by his crew and the innocents he is occasionally called in to protect. There was no flinching whenever he needed to kill someone he considered an enemy. But he would never raise a weapon to his own people with the intention of pulling that trigger. I can respect a man like that. I can look at him and despite the crazy notions and occasional moral lapses, I can still like him, imperfections and all. It‟s because he‟s real. No one is perfect… well, except for one Man and Malcolm certainly isn‟t Him. Humanity does the best it can with what it has. In other words, living in a sinful world and when you don‟t have God in your life, you do what you can. Mal lost his faith in the war because the unjust trounced the weak. It‟s a powerful reason to grieve for him. I don‟t love Mal because he‟s perfect, but rather because he isn‟t. He‟s just a man trying his hardest to live by a code that most don‟t see. I‟ll never forgive the writer‟s strike that stole Firefly from its fanbase. Even with 14 episodes and a major motion picture called Serenity, there still isn‟t enough, not by half. Firefly is a glorious flash-in-the-pan phenomenon that will never be forgotten, at least not by me. ■
By Rachel McMillan → visit blog
I heard an anecdote once about the builders of Great English Cathedrals— they spent their lifetime laboring for an end result they might not see. The construction of the towering churches (their main purpose to inch as close to heaven as possible) spanned many generations; back-breaking work went largely unnoticed and the artists and architects might never see the fruits of their labor. Similarly, young Merlin in the BBC series strives to bring Arthur to the throne. He toils and tasks for the rising of Albion: aware that his influence will go largely unnoticed and the sacrifices he makes for a better future may not be fully realized for many years. To add to it all, he must hide who he is and act as Prince Arthur‟s servant, a lowly and demeaning task well below his natural gifts as a magician. When Merlin firsts arrives in Camelot to become apprenticed to the court physician Gaius, he is an outsider. His mother, fearing his magic in a Kingdom where the use of it is an immediate death sentence, believes Merlin will be far less conspicuous in Camelot and blend in while learning a suitable trade. Gaius, a former magician, is taken aback by Merlin‟s inherent skill. Merlin has an extraordinary gift—one he must hide, pretending to be an ordinary human. When Merlin saves Prince Arthur‟s life, King Uther Pendragon rewards him with the task of acting as Arthur‟s personal steward: a task Merlin would much rather live without but allows him to honor his fate. His destiny, he learns from a sage and wise voice, is intertwined with Arthur‟s and only by bringing Arthur to the eventual throne will the utopian Kingdom of Albion come to pass. Merlin is willing to hide his gifts and talents to ensure that Arthur has faith in himself. He may tame the dragon
attacking Camelot but he will give Arthur all of the glory for saving the Kingdom. Merlin saves Arthur‟s life time and again, unacknowledged; Arthur continually fails to recognize his dedication and bravery. Moreover, he does so while fearing discovery. Merlin serves a King and Prince who would sentence him to death merely for possessing the gift of magic. How difficult it must be to know you are saving the world and not have anyone acknowledge it. Merlin has numerous chances to leave his life as a servant to find riches, fame, notoriety and adventure beyond his wildest dreams yet he remains steadfast, holding tightly to his ideal. With great power (which Merlin has in spades) comes great responsibility. Merlin has a huge burden to bear and a large secret to hide; he loans himself to ridicule and humiliation while hiding the most integral part of himself. Arthur may not be the first to notice Merlin‟s stalwart dedication and kindhearted loyalty, but two of the knights of Camelot, Lancelot and Gwain, are immediately taken with Merlin‟s kind nature and strong moral compass. At one point, Gwain tells Prince Arthur what he likes about Merlin is that he never complains. The Kingdom asks much of him, as does Arthur, and he continues to serve with characteristic humility. Merlin epitomizes the reigning power of good in a kingdom wrought with evil. He may be gifted with remarkable powers but is equally kind-hearted and humble. His bashful demeanor is wonderful counterbalance to the ultimate gift few recognize he has. When the King‟s ward Morgana, a sorceress limited by Camelot‟s prejudice against magic, tries to overthrow Arthur‟s eventual reign, we see again how easily Merlin could sidestep his ultimate quest to join
darker forces and achieve the throne. While Merlin‟s magical powers far exceed Morgana‟s, so does his true spirit and steadfast nature: a startling clash to evil domination she wields. It‟s hard to imagine how much patience and tenacity it would take to hide something so ingrained and remarkable about yourself while appearing a bumbling and humble servant but it is the task that Merlin accepts in order to honor his fate and destiny. He realizes his life and being are at the disposal of a much greater cause. He can give no thought for his own preservation if Arthur is in peril. If Merlin does not hold to his task, the great Kingdom foretold will never come into being. This re-imagined classic tale reflects our plight as Christians: we toil on earth for a future we cannot see and a King whose presence is manifested largely by Faith. Of all the characters in television and film, Merlin is the one I feel is most worth emulating: his gentle demeanor, steadfast and stalwart nature and belief in a future that is greater than he is, not to mention his refusal to abuse his great power or use his own gifts for personal reward, are what make him one of the most worthy models of virtue and perseverance in modern media; a hero we can champion and believe in. A model of integrity, passion and faith who wholeheartedly believes in the rising of a great Kingdom and leader even if the credit he is largely due is never thrown his way. Merlin is renowned as the greatest magician of all time and, in this incarnation, he trades recognition to sweep doorsteps, polish Arthur‟s boots and run small apothecary errands for his guardian. Not a great life, no; but one worthy of the great and wonderful future he so desperately believes in. ■
By Lianne M. Bernardo → visit blog
Every day we are preoccupied by a myriad of different thoughts, ideas, issues, obstacles and concerns, pulling us one direction or the other. Some of these feelings and concerns affect us more than others, such as love and death. They essentially describe what Darren Aronofsky‟s 2006 movie The Fountain (and the accompanying 2005 graphic novel) is about: a meditation on human mortality and the enduring power of love. Three seemingly distinct storylines separated by time and space not only convey these themes but are weaved into one major story. In medieval Spain, Tomas the conquistador is charged by Queen Isabel to find the Tree of Life in the New World to save Spain from enemies threatening to destroy her. In present day, Tommy is a researcher racing against the clock to find a cure to his wife‟s cancer. The third storyline is set in the future: Tom is travelling with the Tree of Life to the dying star of Xibalba to rejuvenate the tree and in turn live forever. Despite the different locations and time periods that separate each story, two things are clear: all three versions of Tom are trying to save Izzi from harm while struggling to overcome the spectre of death threatening them. Tom is afraid of dying, perceiving death as a disease to be cured; this is something he emphasises to his boss at a moment of pain and loss. Izzi‟s beliefs and attitudes towards the same subject are opposite of Tom‟s. Isabel of Spain was steadfast and hopeful of her enemies‟ defeat, while present day Izzi acknowledges her own mortality, believing it to be a part of life as well as the start of a new journey. Her interest in Mayan myths of creation and Xibalba, the Mayan underworld, fuels the novel she is writing and influences how she copes with death. Unlike Tommy, who is relying on science to save his wife, her approach to her
situation is spiritual. These different perspectives place the couple at odds with each other, which Tommy refusing to hear anything about Izzi nearing death.
his emotional breakdown thanks to his failure to reach his destination that he remembers everything he did up to that moment was all for Izzi.
Despite this, their love for each other is not weakened. Izzi is clearly pained at the thought of leaving him behind but seizes every moment that she has, making sure they count by spending time with Tommy and promising him that she will always be a part of him no matter what. Meanwhile, Tommy‟s love for Izzi fuels his work and, more unconsciously, his fear and anger about death in general because he is afraid of losing her. His work is solely to cure her illness but it later expands to include curing death as a whole. Their love is also present in the past, with Tomas seeking out the Tree of Life to save Queen Isabel despite his initial reservations for the mission. In return, Isabel relies on Tomas to save her kingdom and promises her hand in marriage should he succeed. This devotion and determination is so strong it ultimately consumes him.
Much of the movie, including the core elements surrounding death, is up for debate and interpretation: was the story involving Tomas and Queen Isabel a work of fiction from Izzi‟s book or actual events? Were most of the events portrayed simply a coping mechanism for Tom after losing Izzi? Was the ending a vision of rebirth, afterlife, or something else altogether? Despite all of these openended questions, the film is very much about Tom‟s spiritual journey across time and space, a voyage from scepticism and a fear of death as a finite matter to an acceptance of it as a part of life and the natural order of things. All things must end, whether it is Izzi‟s novel, a life or the dying star of Xibalba. Izzi‟s quiet urgings to “finish it” do not only refer to his promise to finish the novel but also to his desperate cling on life and to see his story to its conclusion.
Future Tom is so engrossed in his mission to reach Xibalba and save the Tree of Life that he forgot why he set out to find it in the first place and why he reacted so strongly towards death. Tom is suppressing memories of Izzi when he is first introduced in the film. He is visually in pain whenever her spectre appears, refusing to give in to those memories. In addition to this, Tom pays a price for depending on the Tree of Life and for living as long as he has: he is stuck in the moment, unable to let go, to move forward or onward. He promised Izzi he would complete her novel but is unable to because he does not know how the novel was supposed to end, a reflection of how frozen he is in a particular moment in time. He has lived as long as he has without Izzi, indicated by the tattoos that snake up his arms; it is only after
Despite this sobering reality, the film contains a message of hope and a promise that death is not infinite, ranging from the flowers and plants blooming around the Tree of Life to the new stars forming from the dying Xibalba to Isabel‟s line that “together we will live forever.” Stronger than the notion that death is a part of life is the message that love is stronger than death; Tom recognises it at the end when he says, “All these years, all these memories, there was you.” The Fountain is bittersweet in the challenges Tommy and Izzi face in the past, the present and the future. Outside the complexity and the many questions that arise from the story, or even the internal struggles portrayed throughout, in the end not even death can break the special bonds made between people. ■
By Caitlin Horton → visit blog
Have you ever watched something and thought “Boy, is that villain lame or what?!” This can lead to discussions on how a villain can be improved, by say, giving them a purpose other than standing there, filling up empty camera space. For example: Type 1 villain has numerous lackeys who do their dark and sinister deeds for them, which makes the viewer wonder just how bad they really are. If all they do is sit there preening, telling Lord so-andso to go and kill the person who is plotting to overthrow them, they can (and do) come off as lazy, boring, and rather forgettable. Hollywood also loves Type 2: handing out villains that once started as the “good guy” and had some catastrophic, life-altering event take place that pushes them over the edge of sanity. Type 3 usually encompasses all other villains, including the ones that take forever to kill or have a device their soul is attached to. By destroying said object, the villain dies, leaving the audience wondering why they didn‟t take better precautionary measures in the first place. And then there‟s the better class of villain category, or the BCVC, my own personal measurement system for baddies. This is Type 4, the one where the bad guy is really bad and seems to carry the torch of “I might wish I didn‟t have to do that, but boy do you deserve it!” Loki Laufeyson from Marvel‟s The Avengers and Thor is one of those kinds. Loki happens to be named after the Norse god of mischief, which gives a pretty vivid picture of his idea of a good time. He is also a little like the type 2 villain, who was once good but then turned evil. In Loki‟s case, there was always the potential for him being good, if he had only gotten what he wanted as a child: love and admiration from his father. But he didn‟t, so he became the mischief making villain of two immensely popular Marvel films.
In Thor, Loki is seen as the silvertongued little brother of the mighty Thor and second son of Odin Allfather. Because Odin is always preoccupied with Thor, he contrives a way to get his brother into trouble: urging him to start a forbidden war with the Frost Giants. Loki does this with the full intent to show him up and then calmly step into his shoes. Thor is cast out of his home of Asgard and sent to Earth to live as a mortal as punishment. Loki discovers more about his ancestry and the lies and deceit of Odin. Loki‟s transformation from “jealous little brother” to “jealous really-big-pain-in-the-you-knowwhere” is complete when he tries to murder Thor and successfully destroys the home-world of the Frost Giants. In an epic battle, Loki decides to give up on his little boy dream of being praised by Odin and allows himself to be lost to the vacuum of space. This leaves Thor feeling responsible for every bad thing that happens in the film and effectively rends Loki‟s relationship with his family for what seems like eternity. But is he done wreaking havoc on the universe? Absolutely not. If you have a villain people love, why kill him off? Loki made a triumphant return in The Avengers, arriving on earth in a blaze of energy and smoke. Living up to his namesake, Loki wreaks violent mischief in Germany and later on, New York City. It is a vivid attempt to get noticed by Odin, with the pretense of ruling the people of Earth. Of course, some people want to stand up to him, namely an iron suit, a supersoldier, two deadly assassins, a demigod, a Hulk, an eye patch, and a guy named Phil. That almost sounds like a bad joke, but Loki quickly discovers it isn‟t and there are people on earth willing to be the brick wall to a speeding train. He spends half of the film finding a way to bring forth his loaned army and the other half
contemplating Thor‟s words of kindness and forgiveness. Do villains ever listen to the hero? Sadly, no, and while Loki is one of the best super-villains to grace the big screen, he is also one of the most tragic. Trapped by his own lies and desires to be noticed and loved, he cannot find a way out of his self-made Pandora‟s box. The actor, Tom Hiddleston is keenly aware of the complexities of Loki, and in recently filming a version of Henry V, made a fascinating comparison of the characters: “They seem, on the surface, like chalk and cheese, but Loki is about as close to Shakespeare as Marvel gets. He‟s a prince, wrestling with kingship and responsibility, arguing with his father. And even though the production values are different and the films will look completely different, emotionally and spiritually, Henry and Loki are excavating the same territory.” Few superheroes ever get such a villain (possibly Batman and the Joker share nearby space on the list). But Loki has something the Joker lacks, which are finesse and flair, heart and soul. He walks down a staircase as smoothly as Fred Astaire and commands attention from everyone, including the movie audience. Rarely has a villain ever been so brilliantly memorable and at the same time pitiable in his behaviors. It can only be hoped that The Avengers is not Loki‟s swan song and he will, in fact, return to wreak havoc another day. Or maybe he will return with a change of heart and will come to fight alongside his brother rather than against him. Either way would be better than not at all, because in my humble opinion, the superhero universe won‟t be the same without him! ■
By Tryntsje Cuperus
What makes a good fantasy story? Is it the world building, the unlikely hero, the epic battle scenes? All of these play an important role, but I discovered what truly makes a good fantasy novel when I read Arena, the first novel by Karen Hancock. Twenty-something Callie Hayes is waiting: for life, for a miracle, for something, while stuck in a boring job as a laboratory employer. To earn some quick money, she participates in a scientific experiment at a local university. What is advertised as an experiment in decision making turns into something very different when Callie finds herself dropped into an alien world, the Arena, with nothing but a backpack and a manual. Though scared out of her wits, Callie tries to follow the rules in the manual and proceed as ordered. When evening falls, Callie is attacked by one of the alien life forms. She is saved by a fellow participant, Pierce. Worn out and frustrated, he tells her there‟s no way she will reach a Gate, as they are all positioned atop a steep cliff. He is well aware of it, as he has been in the Arena for five years! As Pierce and Callie cross the Arena to meet up with a group of his friends, Callie discovers there are many dangers to this place. Alien rockdragons and mites attack her, they constantly have to be on the lookout for groups of mutants called Trogs, and sinister shapes named Watchers stare from a distance. At the base of the cliff, right under each of the Gates, cities have formed. Here, Callie meets people who are trying to reach the Gate in many
ways. Some try to climb the steep cliff, others frantically search for a canyon rumoured to lead you over it. The city of Manderia has a temple where you can sign up to serve Mander and be rewarded with a lift to the cliff top after some years, and others cities have similar places. But most of Manderia‟s inhabitants seem to have settled, started a new life, and forgotten about reaching the Gate. Callie feels deceived. The manual promised it would be easy, but she is trapped between all these choices, none of which appeals to her. As Pierce and his friends decide to head for the canyon, Callie tags along. Soon, however, she is confronted with a paralyzing fear of heights when they have to cross a bridge spanning a deep ravine. No matter how hard she tries, Callie is unable to cross the bridge and sees no other way than to return to Manderia. On her way to the city, Callie thinks back to the manual and how she has broken all the rules in it so far. She remembers that it speaks of a Benefactor whose help she can ask in the Arena: „As you have asked, so shall it be.‟ But could it really be that simple? You have probably all been there: you read a book, an article or hear a sermon. You know it has a message, it is trying to teach you a wholesome lesson. But it is something you‟ve already heard so many times, it goes in at one ear and out at the other. It can also be the other way around. You read a book that tells a whole new story but still there is something familiar about it. It makes you sit up and take notice, and suddenly you
realize: this story is about my life, my struggles. Arena is one of these stories, more than just a fantasy novel, it is an allegory. A novel in which the events and characters represent something else, in this case, the life of a Christian. Callie, Pierce and the other characters are just like us, searching for a way to achieve their goals, and overcome the obstacles in their path. There are many different ways to go and many people pulling them in different directions. They struggle with fears and failures: Callie with her acrophobia and Pierce with his trauma of when he was captured by Trogs. Sometimes they are safe and protected for a while but sometimes the adversities are so great they almost want to give up. Even though we, young Christians from the 21th century, do not have to track across a barren land, battle Trogs or find a way up a steep cliff, the trials in Arena are nevertheless familiar and come close to your heart. And very often you will notice the story has taught you something, shown you a well-known message in a new wrapping. That is the power of Arena, the power of allegories, the power of a good fantasy story. Jesus was aware that we humans need stories to be taught invaluable truths; this is why He told many parables. Good fantasy like Arena takes its lessons from Him. That there is also impressive world building, an unlikely hero, and some epic battle scenes in Arena is so much the better! ■
By Ella G. → visit blog
The opportunity to experience magic only comes every so often; you must seize it while you have a chance. The feelings of fantasy, of being transported to another world where anything is possible and you can be all that you ever wanted to be—these emotions are common when we are young but as we get older, we are jaded by real life. It‟s harder to escape into a different world when we are fixed on a realistic world. However, people try it often and the lights and marquees of Broadway usually aid in that, even if it is only for a few short hours. We watch as ordinary individuals just like us put on makeup and costumes and become something new. They play a part and we are envious; we wish we could be in their shoes. I‟ll never forget the day when those Broadway lights made their way to my hometown. While we aren‟t out in the sticks, my “big city” is far removed from other cities. When news that the Tony Award winning show Wicked! was going to be around for a week, I just knew I had to go. Coworkers were telling me how amazing it was. I was loosely familiar with some of the songs and plotlines. Plus, I wanted to feel close to New York City, one of my dream locales, in some form or other. Spending the amount of money I did on tickets freaked me out but I knew that it would be worth it. The ticket stubs to that magical evening are still in my possession. Floor section, row M, seats 9 and 10. I can close my eyes and remember the sets, the gigantic clock on the stage. The excitement of other theatergoers was palpable. I imagined they had much the same thoughts as I did—Wicked! was going to be brilliant and we would definitely understand why it won Tony Awards. I remember my heart stirring as the beginning song started its crescendo. I was bouncing in my seat—it was starting! A Broadway show was in my city and I was witnessing it!
Into the world of Oz, my mother and I stepped. It‟s the place where animals can talk and teach; monkeys can fly. Spells are concocted at a moment‟s notice and witches are in existence. Perhaps you have made such a step into this land yourself? Wicked is the story of Elphaba, the strange, green girl, and the popular girl Glinda. They meet at Shiz (boarding school) and form an unlikely friendship. Both dream of a visit to the Emerald City and an audience with the Wizard of Oz. Circumstances ensue that grant Elphaba this opportunity, but it doesn‟t go as planned. She gets her hands on a spell book and… well, you know the rest. Elphaba earns a reputation of being a wicked witch and must flee. But is she really so bad? And what happens to all of the people in her life? After all, all she has ever done is love and try to protect them. What about Glinda? Is she innocent even though she has a “good” reputation? It is a fascinating story really. After the second curtain call, I still felt a part of Oz. I had seen The Wizard of Oz, so I was familiar with the “Wicked Witch of the West” and of “Glinda the Good Witch,” but now everything looked different. I saw the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow and the Tin Man in a whole new light. Elphaba didn‟t seem all evil and wicked; I saw her heart. As I exited my row, I knew my evening would always stay with me and hold the place in my heart of the first Broadway show I ever saw. It also was the first Broadway show album to find its way onto my MP3 player. Singing the songs all the way home must have been a common occurrence for all who had been in the theater. I know I did. “Defying Gravity” is such an amazing tune and the song Elphaba sings with her love Fieyro, “As Long as You‟re Mine” is slightly sensual and totally romantic. “Popular” is catchy and “I‟m Not That Girl” could have
been sung by most girls at some point in their lives. The entire soundtrack is something amazing and aids in keeping the magic alive. You would think the novel upon which the musical is based would be the same, right? As a librarian, I try to have an open mind about most books but frankly, I don‟t know how Gregory MacGuire‟s novel ever got published. It is well nigh impossible to enjoy it. In the first hundred pages, this reader was struck by the level of the innuendo (of which the Broadway show had next to none) and how downright boring the story was. And the book came first! Where the show had magic, the book slogged through a mire of mud. The characters did not jump off the pages; it took Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel to do that. I could only get through the first hundred pages (through sheer perseverance, not enjoyment). I had to give up. All who I have talked to are in much the same boat. We all tried the book and we all gave up. It certainly didn‟t “defy gravity.” There‟s a spiritual lesson in that. We can be individuals stuck in the mud. Our sins can slog us down and make it impossible for us to be magical and at our brightest, most beautiful self. That is where Christ comes in. He is the One who picks us up, wipes off the mud, writes a better story for us than the one we penned for ourselves, and puts us on the stage He wants us a part of. The Lord is in the business of writing many Tony Award winning screenplays; his children are the high caliber “actors” on the world‟s stage— the stage that gives Him the glory. I got an amazing Broadway memory and a spiritual truth out of a horribly boring book. That is truly magical. Magic does exist in the world; it just takes many forms. ■
By Carol Starkey
When I was younger, I knew what The X-Files was. Everyone did. My stepbrother watched it religiously (and in fact, had lots of correlating stuff like collectable cards and snippets from magazines and newspapers). Though I enjoyed the small handful of episodes I watched, I never really “got” the craze. As an adult, I have Netflix, and one of the shows available is The X-Files. Now I get the craze. It‟s not just the wacky cases and creepy monsters, it‟s the relationship between Mulder and Scully that really makes the show. From the first moment Dana Scully walks into Fox Mulder‟s cramped room in the basement of the FBI, you know they‟re going to have a great relationship. While Scully thinks Mulder‟s ideas are crazy, she at least listens to his explanations and goes on wild goose chases with him. Along the way, Scully‟s beliefs are challenged. She believes science has answers for everything, even things that defy scientific explanation. And as she experiences case after case to which there are no answers, she continues to believe in science, but she‟s willing to admit that there are things science can‟t explain. Mulder, on the other hand, firmly believes in UFOs, Big Foot, mutants, and other unexplainable and oftenscoffed-at ideas. He believes his sister, Samantha, was abducted by aliens when she was eight, and has spent much of his adult life looking for any evidence of her. Together, Mulder and Scully make a good team. The imaginative Mulder forces Scully to think outside what
should be possible or likely and her logic grounds him, keeping him from going overboard with his many conspiracy theories. As they work cases together, they become closer. She‟s there when his father dies and his mother has a stroke; he‟s there when her sister is killed and she discovers that she has cancer. While Scully still doesn‟t automatically believe in all the wild conspiracies Mulder does, she is more willing to trust him as time passes. Though he still believes that things are often not what they appear, he‟s more willing to listen to her scientific findings. Together, they are better able to solve the cases shoved across Mulder‟s desk. A partnership only works when those in it trust each other. Mulder and Scully rely on one another fully. While the most common and familiar catchphrase of the show is “The Truth is Out There,” another
well-known one is “Trust No One.” And they do. Even their allies, like Assistant Director Skinner, X, and Scully‟s mother are trusted only so much. But they rely on each other with their lives, and as a result, their relationship is very close. That‟s why I like the show. Neither Mulder or Scully is a weak character and each grows as a result of truly knowing the other. So many shows have weak characters or one of them tears down the other in order to puff himself up. Though there are plenty of light or funny moments scattered throughout the episodes, they rarely come as a result of this pair tearing down the other. Though I don‟t let my children watch it now, when they grow older, I won‟t have a problem with it. Mulder and Scully are a great example of what a friendship should be—based on trust, honesty, and respect. ■
By Ruth Anderson → visit blog
Earlier this year, John Carter came to theaters with much fanfare and left with a whimper. The splashy sci-fi epic under-performed, the victim of bad press, poor promotional trailers, and a word-of-mouth campaign that equated its financial success with whether or not it held merit. Thankfully, I caught John Carter on the big screen and was blown away by it. Director Andrew Stanton‟s labor of love introduced me to a magnificent world and characters first created by Edgar Rice Burroughs one hundred years ago. Since I first visited Burroughs‟s Barsoom (Mars), I‟ve never looked back, going on to explore his subsequent volumes in the John Carter series and bemoaning the fact that they are unlikely to make it to the big screen. If you missed this film in theaters, let me try to convince you why it is not to be missed for anyone with a healthy appreciation for imagination, adventure, and romance. John Carter, a one-time Confederate Calvary man, heads west in search of gold. While trying to save his mining partner from an Apache attack, Carter seeks refuge in a cave with mystical properties. He soon finds himself transported to Mars (there known as Barsoom). The lesser gravity of the Martian atmosphere gifts Carter with preternatural speed and strength, attributes that win him acclaim among the warlike, nomadic Tharks, a sixlimbed tribe of fierce warriors. Carter gives little thought to his long-term future on Mars until he meets Dejah Thoris, a beautiful Princess of Helium, one of the Red, or humanoid-Martian peoples. In a life-or-death struggle to safeguard Dejah and restore her to her people, Carter falls in love, and in losing his heart finds a reason to fight for a future on a planet so different from his own. A Princess of Mars, the first John Carter book and the primary basis for the recent film, was my first
experience with early 20th-century classic pulp fiction. Initially, the author drafted John Carter‟s first adventure to Mars after a series of failed business ventures. John Carter was birthed out of an existential crisis in the author‟s life and as such it is fascinating to watch Carter‟s journey from outsider to Martian hero unfold. A Princess of Mars is in many respects the first space western, with the arid Martian climate standing in for the American west. If Mars is the western frontier, the various tribes of warlike Tharks are stereotyped Native Americans—but Burroughs does not rest on stereotypical divisiveness. Carter moves from an attitude of superiority and frustration with his Thark captors to respect and admiration for their battle prowess and strict code of honor exhibited by warriors such as Tars Tarkas, who go on to become trusted allies. This eventually helps birth an alliance between the once sworn Green and Red Martian enemies, maybe pointing to Burroughs‟s own belief in the inherent possibility of new beginnings symbolized by wild frontiers.
appreciate all the more. If one views the film unaware of its place as the grandfather of modern sci-fi, having inspired everything from Star Wars to Star Trek, John Carter might seem derivative. But if seen with awareness of its place in sci-fi history, Stanton and his team deliver a visual feast worthy of source material, full of heart and humor and just plain fun.
It is an old-fashioned adventure novel, replete with sword fights, near-death experiences, and a fantastically imagined, fully-realized world full of peoples and cultures startlingly different yet universally relatable in their passions and struggles. John Carter‟s first adventure on Mars improves when revisited, giving me a deeper appreciation for Burroughs‟s work as a pioneer in the realm of science fiction and fantasy.
With superb world-building, special effects, and costumes, John Carter is a world I love getting lost in, and an absorbing work of art. I didn‟t expect to love the film, but I did. I encourage anyone who loves a romantic, oldfashioned adventure story well-told to visit both Burroughs‟s Martian novels and the film it inspired. A Princess of Mars is a ground-breaking, always entertaining adventure. It is a sterling example of Burroughs‟s imaginative prowess, a class from the pen of a pulp fiction master. I adore this book and the film version it inspired is a worthy, long overdue visualization of Burroughs‟s richly drawn world. Both are classics I‟m passionate to see introduced to new audiences.
The film is remarkably faithful to its source material, though it does quote from subsequent volumes to further flesh-out the world of Barsoom and the people, conflict, and cultures John Carter encounters there. The look of it is spectacular, rich with color and details that as a fan of the novels, I
Much like the novel that inspired it, John Carter is about a man‟s search for purpose and a newfound romance that gives him the heart and drive to live again. It is an old-fashioned love story. Carter possesses an inherent nobility and chivalry that I adore. While the Dejah of the novel isn‟t the warrior the film makes her out to be, her nobility, self-sacrificing spirit and intelligence mark her as a groundbreaking female character, every inch the lady, strong-willed, and willing to fight for what she believes. In the best heroic journey tradition, Dejah is the impetus to get Carter to open his heart to his new home and his journey throughout the film is oldfashioned adventure at its finest.
By Gina Dalfonzo → visit blog
Frequency didn’t make a big splash in theaters when it was released but you could safely say it‟s developed a cult following since then. It‟s one of those films everyone kept telling me I absolutely had to watch, until I finally caved in and did. And once I did, I understood exactly why it‟s so loved. As an example of its genre, Frequency isn‟t really anything extraordinary: the special effects are minimal, and the time-travel/parallel-universe aspect can be a little problematic. (Not that I‟m the best judge—anything involving either of those things tends to make my brain hurt—but even I could spot some discrepancies.) But none of that seems to matter in the final analysis, because it isn‟t just another sci-fi flick. It‟s a film with heart, and it offers hope. The movie begins in New York City in 1969, where we meet Frank Sullivan, a firefighter and a devoted family man who‟s adored by his wife, Julia, and his young son, John. We then move forward to 1999, where John is now living on his own in the same house. His career as a policeman is going well but he‟s having trouble with the “family” part. His girlfriend has walked out on him over problems that he admits are his fault but doesn‟t think he can change. We soon learn that John lost his beloved father in a fire when he was only six, a loss he still struggles with. Until one night when he‟s tinkering with his dad‟s old ham radio—a night when there just happens to be unusual aurora borealis activity going on in the atmosphere. Radio signals are acting in strange and unpredictable ways. And suddenly, John hears a voice he never thought he‟d hear again… a voice from thirty years ago. The voice of his long-lost father. The father-son bonding that
ensues, movingly portrayed by Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel, is a delight to watch. Caviezel said his performance was enriched by memories of his father‟s recent illness, and how his father reminded him to have faith and not be afraid during that difficult time. Naturally, John‟s father back in 1969 has a pretty hard time at first believing he‟s hearing his grown son contact him from the future. But John manages to warn Frank of the fire about to take his life, leading Frank, despite his lingering skepticism, to take a different route out of a burning building the next day. That night on the radio, a joyful Frank tells his son, “You‟re the voice of an angel… reached right out of heaven and pulled my butt out of the fire.” Father and son talk eagerly far into the night, until John is in tears of exhaustion and happiness. Of course, the two of them very soon learn the lesson so familiar to fans of sci-fi: you can‟t change one thing in the past without accidentally changing a whole lot more. Suddenly dealing with two sets of memories in his mind —the old timeline where his father died and the new one where he lived— John is dismayed to realize that now his mother is dead. And then horrified to find that she was the victim of a notorious criminal known as the Nightingale Killer. When John saved his father‟s life, he also ensured that his mother, a nurse, would stay at work that night instead of coming home early. That meant she was able to save the life of a patient who, eventually, would go on to kill her and several other women. John and his father now have to work together, across the three decades separating them, to catch the man before he can carry out those killings.
Frequency has many elements in common with other sci-fi films. What sets it apart is its worldview and what it honors. The movie unabashedly celebrates loving families whose members would do anything to help and protect each other, and unsung heroes who risk their lives for people they‟ve never met. As John‟s character slowly and subtly changes for the better due to Frank coming back into his life, it demonstrates what a difference a good father can make. Unlike the bleak and gritty dystopias that make up so much of the modern sci-fi genre it offers a scenario where tragedies can be turned around and what has gone wrong can be set right. It‟s not a world where victory comes without a cost. At least one woman is murdered in the altered timeline after Frank, trying to save her, is knocked out by her attacker. Though his intentions were good and he risked his own life for her, the fact remains that because he survived the fire, she died. It‟s a sobering reminder that even the noblest actions may have unintended consequences. Despite that important reminder, the feel of the film is overwhelmingly hopeful and positive. To see this family‟s tragedy undone is like getting a glimpse of a world we all long for, knowingly or not—a world where, one day, every tear will be wiped away. This is what stays with us long after we‟ve finally given up wondering how John could remember both timelines at once or exactly how the climactic scene worked. In this particular sci-fi universe, there‟s a sense of things being directed by a benevolent and loving hand, and Frequency shows the beauty of that vision. ■
Contribute, and make sure your favorite isnâ€&#x;t left out! There are only a few writing spots left! E-mail us today at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Doctor Who, Legend of the Seeker, Smallville, Wizard of Oz, Thor, Stardust, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Once Upon a Time, Merlin, Firef...