Tuesday, July 9, 2013

THAS: LIFEFORCE WEEK: DAY 3 - The Distinction of Life

Actually one more "Day 3" post...


Another major discussion point in Lifeforce is the distinction of life.  What makes something alive and what makes it dead?

Certainly what makes something alive is its physical order - the perfect condition of its body, a normal flush of the skin, the attractiveness of the simply resting face of the healthy.  The two alien males (as is the female) are the ideal of life.

In this scene, they make uneasy in their skins two average blokes.  After a trademark Hooper scare-but-not-really (a trademark technique perfectly embodying Hooper's cinema of sense, not sentiment), an exchange occurs between the two guards in regards to the perfect bodies in front of them. One guard is routinely boorish - to put it more understandingly, personally guarded ("I'm not paid to believe nothing, am I?") - while the other is (or at least seems, at first) inclined to question.

A spellbinding whisper of the deeply perceiving, but followed by a sneer: "They don't look bloody dead to me," the inquisitive guard exclaims, emphasizing again the possible intuitive aspect of determining life and perhaps the pettier subtext of his questioning.  Implicitly, the scene is about these two bodies being too invidiously perfect of specimens, reflecting back and making chopped liver of the two average schlubs.

It is Hooper's sacramental tracking shot moving through a temple of glass and human forms, a shot which begins this scene, that makes it clear the guards' attitudes may emerge from the film's suggestion that we are to worship these perfect alien conduits of life.  

"Your body is the temple," says Corinthians, "which is not your own - it is bought with a price."  But instead of the Holy Spirit - component of God - being contained within our body, as that which wrought us and demands we keep our body pure, Lifeforce's life-giving being within us all is the rampant alien, with their liberated (at times excessive) methods towards world calamity and world creation.  The proclamation "It is bought with a price" rings with puritan fear-mongering in the Bible.  With Lifeforce, what we give and what we receive, with whom and with what price, is part of life.  "It is bought with a price" is simply an honest statement of fact.  Lifeforce is that most matter-of-fact sci-fi film one is looking for about sex.  Skip Species, Shivers, even John Carpenter's grand classical piece of a film The Thing.  

The terror is not condemned, it is accepted, shown as natural, manifold, and made up of equal parts destruction and final, hopeful generation.

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