Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

My resolution to catch up with the travel blogging was set aside for a brief visit by two of the grandchildren. It should be a no-brainer how to keep them occupied at this time of the year – beach, then beach, followed by more beach. Except that the weather did not co-operate.

So we fell back on a trip to the movies, and their choice was Assasin’s Creed or Passengers. Neither appealed to me, but hey! It’s another couple of hours access to their company and something to talk about over dinner. The session times dictated Passengers, so off we went.

Having a zero expectation, I found the film tolerable, even entertaining at times. Anyone who sees it will get a kick out of the role of Arthur, the Android bartender, played by Martin (whoops!) Michael Sheen who is familiar from the Masters of Sex television drama (based on the research of Masters and Johnson (Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson).

The last half hour became increasingly unrealistic, and for my taste, pretty corny. Really? I hear you say. It’s a sci-fi! Which part of the film did you expect to be realistic Gwen?

Then, on the drive home, I got to thinking. Actually, it was not that unrealistic.

The plot goes along the lines of “The starship Avalon is transporting over 5,000 colonists to the planet Homestead II, a journey that takes 120 years.”

So, to analogise that. The First Fleet (of eleven ships) transported over 1,400 colonists to the ‘lands beyond the seas’ now known as Australia, a journey that took eight months, with some of the convicts having been held on the ships for another seven months prior. At a time when life expectancy was around forty years, that would have seemed a significant chunk of time.

The passengers on the Avalon are hurtling through space, surrounded by a big empty nothingness, much as the open ocean would have seemed to those first sea-going passengers. Your future is entirely in the hands of the crew, who may, or may not have control of the situation. Orienting to any recognisable landmarks is impossible. You are not even sure which direction you are travelling. Venturing away from the transport is fraught with fear and almost-certain death. These passengers have no choice but to go on, and on, while all the time they have no idea of what lies ahead for them. Their fate is controlled by the masters of their destiny – in the film, that is the Homestead Corporation; for the First Fleeters, it was the British Government. In both cases these passengers are the pioneers. They are to create a new life from nothing.  Everything they have to depend on is in the cargo hold: implements, seed, food, clothing and so on.

The only major difference between the two experiences I noted, was that on the Avalon, the passengers had chosen to be there, and many were selected for their skills. Which was definitely NOT the case for the convicts. Very few convicts knew how to farm and the soil around Sydney Cove was poor. It’s a miracle the new settlement lasted until “help” arrived in the form of the Second Fleet two years later. Although its high death and illness rate, only made it more of a burden to begin with.

I can’t tell you whether the passengers on the Avalon survived to make a similar success in their new colony. All I can say is  . . . it is an American movie, so take a guess. Of course, if it was a French movie, we’d never know whether they arrive or not 🙂 Heck! We wouldn’t even know which were Androids and which were Humans.

It was an interesting interlude that obviously got me thinking. There is no such thing as an original story it seems.

Now, back to Ballarat . . .   🙂

Footnote: For those who also see the film and read this post: I am not even intending to go near a discussion of the ethical choices of the male lead – that is an entirely different philosophical topic! A subject for another day perhaps.

13 thoughts on “Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

  1. I enjoyed your flight of fantasy in comparing a C grade sci-fi melodrama space opera mashup with The First Landing. Certainly there are existential parallels in transporting humans to unknown worlds, but there, I fear, the friendship must stop. Your fantasy has far more cinematic potential than has been realised in this lame effort at plausible science fiction. Nice chatt’n though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I so very nearly went to see this over Christmas as I am such a fan of Michael Sheen’s work and there were supposed to be hints of ‘The Shining’ about the film. However, in the end it was the male lead, not a fav of mine and his character’s ‘choice’ that I knew I wouldn’t be able to stomach. Still on a positive note, am very much looking forward to October 2017 and the release of ‘Blade Runner 2049’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would never have gone to see it if it were not for the grandkids. On the other hand, most of the local cinema is not to my taste during the school holidays, and there are no art-house cinemas down in the part of the world. The ‘choice’ is very open to criticism, although to be fair to the film, they do present it as a moral dilemma that he eventually succumbs to, rather than his decision of first choice.

      Liked by 1 person

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