Tuesday, July 08, 2008

In which I ramble about my view of humanity

I was thinking that I would review The First Men in the Moon for you today. You know, the movie I posted the poster of yesterday? You remember? Come on, it wasn't that long ago! Well, for those of you who don't recall, The First Men in the Moon was the 1964 film adaptation of HG Wells' story of an expidition to the moon in 1899, you know, 70 years before it actually happened.

On the moon, they meet some insectoid creatures. The scientist wants to try to communicate with them and to learn from them. However, it is Arnold Bedford who takes over, throwing the creatures into a pit and fighting with them before even attempting to learn the slightest thing about them. And, to be honest, it made me very sad.

You have to assume that it is Bedford's reaction to the strange creatures that humanity would emulate should we ever encounter some peoples from another planet. While some people, like the scientest, Cavor, would want to greet and learn from the new creatures, it is much more likely that we would instintively lash out and attack them without waiting for provocation. And, at the end of The First Men in the Moon, it is Bedford's glee that the creatures had been wiped out by an accidental germ from Cavor that really kind of sticks with me.

It strange, sometimes, to see a mirror held up to humanity in film. Think about The Lord of the Rings. It is Aragorn, the noble king who stands by his friends and would never betray them, that we hope to emulate. However, it is the tragic Boromir who is more of a true encapsulation of mankind.

Boromir is a good person, but he has many flaws. He wants only to do the right thing, but he doesn't realize that the right thing is the wrong thing until it's too late. He believes only in himself and his ability to succeed. Where Aragorn sees the ring as an evil thing that cannot be wielded by man, Boromir only sees a weapon. A weapon that he believes can save his land and his people. The truth, ultimately, is that they're both right. Boromir is simply too short sighted to see that the only way to use the weapon is to destroy it.

Of course, Boromir is tempted to take the ring. Who among us would pass on that? If all you saw was the ability to save the ones you love, wouldn't you try to take the ring as well? How many of us could truly pass that kind of power up the way that Aragorn did? Aragorn is the ideal, but Boromir is the reality.

We fear what we don't understand. Boromir and Bedford both show us this. We want to do the right thing, we want to help those around us, but sometimes, I think, we lose track of the right way to do that.