Saturday, February 04, 2006


We finally got around to seeing Serenity at DocFilms last night, and I have to gush a little bit: wow, what a cool movie! I love the way Joss Whedon punctures the usual solemnity and self-importance of too many sci-fi movies, while still managing to make it serious and exciting. Although I love Star Trek and its ilk, the ghost of Jean-Luc Picard does not hang heavily over this film; it has some genuinely funny moments (without becoming Douglas Adams goofy) and, as usual, Joss writes some clever clever dialogue. It was a lot of fun to see the film at Doc, where the crowd is super-vocal (with die-hard Firefly fans well-represented, apparently). Obviously, my next big obsession will be to checkout the 14 Firefly episodes.

To provide an antidote to all this gushing, the hoverbike blog critiques Firefly (links here and here) as right-wing libertarian sci-fi with a pro-Confederate, anti-Indian subtext. Given the setup of the show, its hard to argue that there's nothing to this point, but I would pretty much disagree that it is the only or the best interpretation (especially given the big reveal at the end of Serenity, which the hoverbike guy hadn't yet seen). It's interesting reading, at any rate, especially some of the rebuttals in the comments section. Sci-fi always seems to invite political interpretations (I'm thinking Orwell and Huxley, as well as Hollywood), but anything more complex than Ayn Rand should have enough subtlety to carry multiple interpretations. If I had to put a slogan to it, Serenity spoke more to the seemingly inevitable corruption that comes with any rigid ideology coupled with the power to enforce it. 'Tis much better, Joss says, to be pragmatic and humanistic, to stick by your friends and try your best to figure out what the right thing is, and then do it. Which isn't so bad.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I thought Serenity was great. 100% cliche, but awfully well-built cliche. The direction was punchy and alive. I've never seen the series but someday hope to.

The hoverbike analysis is interesting. I agree with your interpretation more. A sort of key thing missing from hoverbike's comparison: actual slaves. Ne? But without the end of Serenity, I'd agree with him that the Indian theme is thoughtless and backwards.

Har har. Anyway, fun to yak about.


daraka kenric said...

Hey, it's nice to see that Doc films is still goin strong- I saw my first John Woo film there, miss Chicago alot.

So, I've seen Serenity now, and I still stand by my analysis. Very entertaining, but still full of paranoiac libertarianism... the big problem here is Whedon's choice of metaphor...just bad.

Even with the "twist" at the end, its still just sloppy to have cowboys who fought on the side of the "independent states" during a civil war being hunted by an evil federal government and trying to avoid a group of savages who paint their faces and dismember people. It doesn't matter that they were created by said evil federal government.

Still my two cents. Still liked the ships, though.