Updated: Jul 9
As with all movies on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete synopsis of the film, but rather to document how the movie relates to the meaning of life. With that said, be forewarned, there are still spoilers ahead.
Equilibrium is a dystopian science fiction film that was written and directed by Kurt Wimmer. Starring in the movie, we have Christian Bale as John Preston. The premise is basically that humankind got so out of control with its wars and its violence and its inhumanity, that the only way to save the world was to create a drug called Prozium that would stop all emotion.
Although Prozium does kind of sort of stop the wars (those with no emotions are still waging a war on those with emotions), it also came at a considerable cost. Music, art, creative books, and many other things are forbidden. If paraphernalia is found, it is burned, along with the people owning it. People also walk around with blank expressions on their faces—functioning, but functioning only as cogs in a machine. They still think, but they cannot feel. Anyone that is caught feeling is labeled a Sense Offender and is incinerated (or killed on the spot).
As "Father," the leader of the society would state in a training video, ...a single inescapable fact that mankind united with infinitely greater purpose in pursuit of war than he ever did in pursuit of peace.
You see, at the beginning of the 21st century, WWIII broke out, and it was a war humanity couldn't survive. It was a war that made humanity realize that if the species were to survive, humanity would have to be eradicated as malignant as it was. But if people are stripped of all sense, of all feelings and emotions, of anything creative, then is there still any meaning to life?
John Preston was a cleric for the Tetragrammaton. A cleric's job is basically to be highly skilled in fighting, so experienced that he or she would have Matrix-like moves without actually having any real superpowers. Having these skills, a cleric weeds out any Sense Offenders and arrests them. One of these Sense Offenders that John captured was named Mary O'Brien (played by Emily Watson), and Mary would pose just such a question to John, just such a question on purpose.
Mary: Why are you alive?
John: I'm alive… I live… to safeguard the continuity of this great society. To serve Libria.
Mary: It is circular. You exist to continue your existence. What's the point?
John: What's the point of your existence?
Mary: To feel. 'Cause you've never done it, you can never know it. But it's as vital as breath. And without it—without love, without anger, without sorrow—breath is just a clock ticking.
As you can probably guess, John has an awakening of sorts. He accidentally drops his morning dose of Prozium, and the vile smashes on the ground. He starts to feel. He joins the underground movement. Saves a dog or two, kills a bunch of Prozium dosed people, and eventually takes down Father. Thus starting the process of restoring emotion and regaining a bit of humanity.
John noted that he lived to safeguard the continuity of society. Mary countered that it is a circular argument. Yet, is this not what parents do all the time? Is this not the game of life? To reproduce? To go forth and multiply? Do so many others not say that children give their life meaning? Either way, what the film shows is how emotions, perhaps, bring some purpose to life. The evolution of life can be circular no matter how you spin it, but toss a few feelings into the mix, and that supposedly makes it worth living, gives it some purpose. Would you agree? Or is the dystopia created by Kurt Wimmer really a utopia in disguise? Can life have meaning without feelings? Does the goldfish in the bowl have any real purpose?
Overall, the movie was mediocre at best. Its biggest downfall was that those who supposedly had no emotions still showed a wide range of emotions. From anger to jealously to even being opportunistic. So although there was a solid premise, the believability factor fell apart with its ridiculous nature.
Overall - 6
Meaning of Life Relevance - 5
Uniqueness – 6
Did you see the film? What did we miss? Comment below and let us know.