Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Love (2011)


Produced by Angels and Airwaves

This film accompanied their two Love albums, with music from the albums serving as the soundtrack.
Its currently available on Netflix so check it out if you're interested.

Not surprisingly this film is at times "out there" and confusing, not unlike most music videos, which if you'd like to view it as such, you could think of it as the longest music video you've ever seen.  But there is a point I assure you.  It isn't an easy film so I'll give the synopsis as well as some discussion. Everyone may take something different from it, but here is one interpretation.

Synopsis (from Wikipedia)
"During an 1864 battle of the American Civil War, a lone Union soldier, Captain Lee Briggs (Bradley Horne), is dispatched on a mission to investigate a mysterious object reported to Union forces. 175 years later, in the year 2039, United States Astronaut Lee Miller (Gunner Wright) is sent to the International Space Station as a one-man skeleton crew to examine if it is safe for use and to perform necessary modifications after it had been abandoned two decades earlier. Shortly after arriving on board, tumultuous events break out on Earth, eventually resulting in Miller losing contact with CAPCOM and finding himself stranded in orbit alone, forced to helplessly watch events on Earth from portholes 200 miles above his home planet. Miller struggles to maintain his sanity while in isolation by interacting with Polaroid pictures of former ISS crewmembers left aboard the ship. When the station has some power glitches, Miller journeys into an unpressurised module of the space station to perform repairs and discovers the 1864 journal of Briggs. Miller reads Brigg's account of the war and becomes enthralled by the mysterious object he is searching for, not realizing he will soon become more familiar with the very same object, and not by accident."
It's all a study in the psychological effects of isolation and loneliness. Miller is trapped in the space station for around 6 years or so starting in the year 2039.  Being isolated for so long you will realize how much you need others, you need interaction and relationships. A voice-over tells us, "connection is perhaps the most cherished thing a person can have." There are documentary style interviews intercut with the action inside the space station. People talk about their ideas on love and relationships and the need for human interaction. One interview states the following:
"We can control our environment. We decide whether we go here or there. Once we've established ourselves, that's when our environment starts to take a toll on our personalities and our habits and the way we think every day. We are social creatures and we need to interact with people, that's why relationships are so important, so crucial for existence. If you don't talk to anybody, you don't interact with anybody, then your whole sense of reality is pretty warped."
This is what Miller goes through. Eventually Miller starts talking to pictures around the space station and hearing voices in his head. It's his only communication. He finds the journal of Lee Briggs (is it mere coincidence that their names are both Lee?) the civil war soldier who ended up being the only one from his division to survive. He describes being trapped in the battle with nowhere to go.  He wrote the journal to commemorate the men from his division. So they wouldn't be forgotten or lost for nothing. Their story deserved to be told. It's a history worth remembering. It was a battle that seemed to serve little more than to extinguish human life. These are all themes that resonate throughout the film.


We find that both Miller and Briggs are the only ones left alive in their time. While Miller is stranded aboard the ISS a catastrophic war leaves no one left alive on earth. Someone seems to have recognized the very serious threat that war poses to humanity's very existence. A time capsule of sorts was created at some point although the time of its creation is not clear. The object that the civil war soldier Briggs is searching for and that Miller later docks with in space is one in the same. It's NOAH's Ark (National Organization of Archival History) and we discover that the interviews we've seen periodically throughout the film are archival recordings that have been placed within the Ark.

In a similar way that Briggs' journal was meant to commemorate the men in his division who died, the Ark was built to commemorate human life.  It seems to have the ability to travel through time and space. It's a time capsule for someone to find that will tell humanity's story.

This is a cautionary film telling of the destructive power of war and it's affect on human life. This film also stresses not just man's need for human connection and love, but the importance of memories and stories to be kept as a record of mankind and our journey through life. The end states that the way we live our lives may change the way another lives their life. If we can share our stories with others perhaps we will know we have "a history worth remembering" and "a heartfelt purpose."  Facing the end of one's life, anyone would want to know that it meant something, that we will be remembered. There have been many lives lived throughout time, how many are truly remembered.

There is a forum on this film on IMDB in which a user (who goes by Avatar1974) laid things out in an understandable way:
"If we don't get some perspective about how fragile this environment is, and that while scientists are discovering there could be trillions of planets of life in the universe, they're too distant for us to journey to... and this planet is it. This is where we make our lives mean something or nothing... and the universe won't miss us when we are gone. We're utterly replaceable... the only ones our existence matters to is each other. This is the central point of the film and why the war themes are in there, as a warning."
This film itself was inspired by Carl Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot where we get this quote:
"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Look again at that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."
- Carl Sagan
If you've listened to Angels and Airwaves Love albums before, but not seen the film, you may understand them differently after having viewed the film.  And because it doesn't seem right to talk about Angels and Airwaves without talking about their music at all, I'll leave you with the lyrics from one of their songs... see the connection.

The Flight of Apollo
by: Angels and Airwaves

"I'm flying, and somethings reaching out
Vibrations, can you hear them now
Please help us, were running out of time
My brothers, we are deathly out of line
I feel you, on a far off distant land
We fucked up, lets give ourselves a hand
Its over. From the heavens look down
Our footsteps, gods coming around

Gotta make like a cat theifs caught in the line
Its gotta sound like a gunshot over and over
Ive gotta voice so lost off back in my head
It takes the heart rate up then down even more
I've got my friends face down like a kid in the dark

They've got the same fear built up more even more
I've let my eyes bright up like a predator shark
To let my mind close down every hour by hour

Finally I get this feeling were all alone in one big world
Just to realize that all these shapes and colors are so it doesn't hurt so badly
So life doesn't hurt, doesn't hurt so badly, so life doesn't hurt, doesn't hurt so badly
Please don't look at life, look at me so sadly. Life shouldn't hurt, doesn't hurt so badly

Do you feel light shine in the darkest of nights, or does the Pain stack up from the skin to the core
Do you find every time that you cover your eyes to keep the tears held up, dripping down even more
Let the words come down, every line in sight and put the young flames up and make you cower and cower
If the sun breaks in instead of sparkin the sight, I promise you I'll be here to let the light in

Finally I get this feeling were all alone in one big world
Just to realize that all these shapes and colors are so it doesn't hurt so badly
So life doesn't hurt, doesn't hurt so badly, so life doesn't hurt, doesn't hurt so badly
Please don't look at life, look at me so sadly. Life shouldn't hurt, doesn't hurt so badly

I'm flying and somethings reaching out
Vibrations, can you hear them now
Please help us, from the heavens look down
Our footsteps, gods coming around

So life doesn't hurt, doesn't hurt so badly, so life doesn't hurt, doesn't hurt so badly
Please don't look at life, look at me so sadly. Life shouldn't hurt, doesn't hurt so badly

Gotta make like a cat theifs caught in the line
Its gotta sound like a gunshot over and over
I've gotta voice so lost off back in my head
It takes the heart rate up then down even more
I've got my friends face down like a kid in the dark
They've got the same fear built up more even more
I've let my eyes bright up like a predator shark
To let my mind close down every hour by hour

Do you feel light shine in the darkest of nights, or does the Pain stack up from the skin to the core
Do you find everytime that you cover your eyes to keep the tears held up, dripping down even more
Let the words come down, every line in sight and put the young flames up and make you cower and cower
If the sun breaks in instead of sparkin the sight, I promise you Ill be here to let the light in