Lately there have been staggering breakthroughs in space exploration. There have been planets discovered that not only hold water, but sometimes even having an environment that could support human life. Though it seems absurd at times to talk about, all of us have wondered if there are other life forms “out there” and whether or not we may ever make contact.
In fact, we all think about this quite often. If we didn’t, alien movies would be relegated to low budget children’s films. On the contrary, in the top 20 box office successes of all time, 5 of them are alien-related. And when the list is adjusted for inflation, there are 7. The interest and wonder are there. We’ve all seen illustrations of how small our planet is in comparison to the sun, and the sun compared to the galaxy, etc. The vastness of the universe has a dizzying effect. Life outside of Earth is not only possible, it’s fascinating.
And here on planet earth we have a resident expert on all things space. Just recently he told us that if any aliens do make a call, we may want to just pretend it’s a telemarketer and let the phone ring. Why??
His reason makes me realize just how smart Stephen Hawking really is. We already know he is today’s Einstein or Galileo, and most likely the smartest human alive today. But his head isn’t lost in the study of black holes, metaphysics, and little green men. He knows history. He knows humanity. His reason for saying that answering alien emails could end up more like The War of the Worlds than Alf is summed up in one simple anecdote: “Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus — that didn’t turn out so well.” In other words, we should be wary because they could be… like us.
I have a high regard for humanity and the potential for good in all of us. But our track record for getting along with each other, especially when coming into contact with those who are very different from us, is grim.
Now, don’t let the subject being discussed here fool you. This week’s movie isn’t Arrival. Yes, that one is about making extraterrestrial contact, but it’s Loving that came to my mind when I read Hawking’s words.
Loving is the movie I am most looking forward to. It centers on a couple who love each other and face the possibility of prison because of their love. They face the possibility of prison because of their desire to marry. That premise seems utterly ridiculous, until you see the colour of their skin. We all understand that this was a thing in the 60’s, when the movie is set. We also all understand that skin colour (amoung other inconsequential things) is still a pretty big deal. It’s as if thousands of years of practice hasn’t quite done enough yet. So think about it: if you looked like E.T. and you landed on planet earth, would you want humans in any time in history to find you? Even animals know to get the bleep out when humans are around. You’re a smart man, Hawking.
So let’s just hope that as we grow and learn we become more like Yoda and less like Predator.
Congratulations Loving. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: None of us have seen these movies, so it’s hard to judge who’s the best, but based on past performances, I’m going with Amy Adams in Arrival.
Best Actor: Definitely Joel Edgerton in Loving. He’s one of those actors that is so good you forget it’s him playing the part. If you haven’t seen Warrior (2011), I’d highly recommend it.
Best Quote: Again, it’s tough to quote a movie that’s yet to be released. However, here is a great quote from the original 1915 Birth of a Nation. Since it’s a silent film the quote comes from a title card (intertitle): “A PLEA FOR THE ART OF THE MOTION PICTURE / We do not fear censorship, for we have no wish to offend with improprieties or obscenities, but we do demand, as a right, the liberty to show the dark side of wrong, that we may illuminate the bright side of virtue – the same liberty that is conceded to the art of the written word – the art to which we owe the Bible and the works of Shakespeare.”
If any of you reading this would like to go and watch any of these with me, let me know. You buy the tickets and I’ll buy the popcorn and pop, or vice versa.
Movie of the Week