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It’s the times we’re in which led to this Reflections Post.
An Uncanny Resemblance to Reality.
I was catching up on my film playlist and watched The Maze Runner Part III the other day: The Death Cure, based on the original trilogy by James Dashner which now offers 5 volumes to the reader (two prequels and one ‘guide’).
I think that as creative artists we have a duty to alert and denounce Human sufferings and Plights, and those of all living beings I would personally add. Through paintings, sculptures, poetry, literature and essays, films, photography.
In Paintings, I am thinking of Guernica by Picasso, Medea about to kill her children by Delacroix and the tryptic By Hieronymus Bosch on Hell.
In Sculpture, The Kidnapping of the Sabine by Giambologna, The Burghers of Calais by Rodin and countless war memorials.
During the Second World War, Picasso remained in Paris while the Germans occupied the city. Picasso’s artistic style did not fit the Nazi ideal of art, so he did not exhibit during this time. He was often harassed by the Gestapo. During one search of his apartment, an officer saw a photograph of the painting Guernica. “Did you do that?” the German asked Picasso. “No,” he replied, “You did”.[5
In Poetry, Milton’s Paradise Lost comes to mind. As do Shakespeare’s Tragedies. In Theatre, Molière’s Social Tragi-Comedies, Arthur Miller’s plays.
In Fiction, I am thinking of Anticipatory Fiction and non horror Science-Fiction.
Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell (1948)
Brave New World (1931) by Aldous Huxley
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, and the War of the Worlds (1895-7)
Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires series (54 novels, 1863-1905)
2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick (1968)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
All made into several film versions and that I consider the basis for all more recent Anticipatory Fiction.
I think The Maze Runner series by James Dashner inscribes themselves perfectly in this trend launched principally by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells a hundred and fifty years ago.
The First Volume, The Maze Runner, can be likened to the Hunger Games series. How to keep the Poor downtrodden by entertaining them and at the same time separating and reducing their numbers while the Rich enjoy unnecessary privileges at the expense of the survival of the Weaker fringes of Humanity. The Law of the Jungle, when what makes us Human is our capacity to take care of each other equally , democratically and without discrimination.
The Second Volume, The Scorch, reminds us of the fragility of our environment and ultimately our survival as a species.
The Third Volume, The Death Cure, the film of which I watched the other night, uncannily resembles our current crisis.
Brief Synopsis (may have spoilers)
A virus has hit Humanity. The Rich and Powerful have protected themselves by containing the virus within guettos where the Poor, Infected and Weak are kept prisoners. The virus attacks in various ways. It declares itself by fever and eating at the flesh. First provoking hallucinations and paranoïa, then enraged behaviour, like rabies, madness and murderous instincts, ending with a failure of the brain and all organs, if the subject hasn’t been shot before. Some infected survive. Some survivors escape. Some are immune. The Immune who are also the Rebels have survived the Maze and the Drought in the Wild. However they have been tagged with a chip as property of the WICKED, the governing power. They are hunted down to be experimented on to try and find a cure and extract enough anti-bodies to create a vaccine…. unsuccessfully. (A chill runs down my spine as I think of the Nazi doctors in the camps who experimented on the disabled, the mentally ill and the jews. I also think of the Constant Gardener and the real pharmaceutical experiments on whole villages in Africa to find a viable treatment for AIDS).
There are traitors, morally questionable scientists, politicians or the three combined, the Evil on the one hand; the poor, infected and dead (or to be eradicated) on the other. And we have our Heroes: Rebels, Immune and Survivors.
Here are some significant extracts: possible spoilers
Trailer watch here
Newt’s Death here
Train carriage scene here
Ava Paige here
What they do to the infected (chilling), and reunion scene here
To learn more about the original trilogy by James Dashner read here interesting to see the origins of the characters’ names.
To learn more about the three films by Wes Ball here
Other film extracts which come to mind
The Constant Gardener, 2005 here
The Snowpiercer, original Korean film, 2014, here
The Snowpiercer, Balance and Revolution, Ed Harris scene here is this where we are headed ?
The Snowpiercer, series, 2019 here not as good in my opinion.
And here are a few treats to alleviate your spirits :
Wes Anderson The Grand Budapest Hotel, watch here
and on a darker note, which reminds us of islands devoted to nuclear waste, notably on coasts of West Africa since the 70’s, Isle of Dogs here
All transmitting messages with humour.
Two of my recent discoveries. The origins of music.
Mari Boine, Native Sami (Norway) here
Kiwanuka, Native Bantu (Uganda, British born) here
I thoroughly believe that it is the duty of all people who have been lucky enough to benefit from an education in whatever field, to put their knowledge to use : to strive to improve everybody’s lot in life and not only for their individual gain. Solidarity, Democracy, Empathy, in a word Humanity. And I would personally extend this benevolence to all living things on Earth and in the Universe.
Sunshine finally come out today in Toulouse France. All flowers, wild and planted, kissing the sky with their glorious colours.
Have a safe week and take all precautions for you and others.
For the latest most reliable information and safeguards, please visit the site of the World Health Organisation .
and stay vigilant as to the respect of our basic Human Rights by our sometimes questionable authorities.
All comments, discussion, likes/dislikes welcome. We are all free to agree to disagree.