I thought this was a blogworthy subject for a couple of reasons. First, because it dovetails nicely with my previous post concerning unthinkable- or in this case, perhaps, unwatchable- ideas. I'm sure many people would consider the making of this film to be outside the pale of moral acceptability. Frankly, if I ever see it I'll probably be peeking through my fingers a lot of the time. And tell me if I'm wrong, but isn't Ebert home-brewing his own batch of Helsinki formula (nyuk, nyuk) when he ends his review like this?
I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine.
On the other hand, if Michael Moore was doing the cutting-and-pasting, employing Republican members of the Senate, mightn't Ebert be turning a whole n'other worm? (Again, and in case you missed it...nyuk, nyuk).
The other reason I thought the film and review were germane to what we mostly talk about here is reflected in Ebert's introduction-
It's not death itself that's so bad. It's what you might have to go through to get there...You would have to be very brave to choose this ordeal over simply being murdered. Maybe you'd need to also be insane.
Ring any bells? There's nothing to fear before you're born. It is my belief that the same applies after you're dead. The two states are, in fact, experientially equal; or perhaps I should say non-experientially equal? There seems to be this continuum, like this long, long stretch of impeccably smooth road extending from the infinitely distant hills behind us to an infinitely remote land beyond the setting sun, interrupted by this one fucking, teeth-jarring speedbump. If we had the ability to look back and reflect, wouldn't we be asking ourselves who the hell put that damnable thing there in the first place? Of course, the answer is...our parents. And it's an odd thing, isn't it? Even though relative to the length of the infinite road, the jolt of the speedbump seems an ultimately inconsequential thing, for one who is sensitive to it's jarring effects upon one's self and one's fellow passengers, it seems to take an ungodly length of time to get beyond it. Alternatively, for one who finds the encounter with the obstacle thrilling, the experience is over far too soon.
Perhaps in the end, some would be 'brave' enough to choose this ordeal; although, the ordeal is never actually open to choice. Someone else always chooses for us, and we learn to play along, or not. Are there things more horrible than non-existence? That's easy- everything that's horrible- or even slightly uncomfortable such that you'd wish for circumstances to be different- is worse than non-existence. Because non-existence is in no way bad. Non-existence is our natural state of affairs. It's where we're coming from, and it's where we're going. In the meantime, we laugh, and cry, and contemplate, and hope like hell that somebody doesn't kidnap our children and surgically attach their mouth to somebody else's anus.
UPDATE: Damn! I almost forgot to mention the third reason I found this subject pertinent, having to do with the relationship of this film to the Utopian visions of the transhumanist crowd. At any given time in history, the world is populated by a given number of sick fucks, as well as an even larger number of people who'll go along with the sick fucks, for any number of reasons. It doesn't take a genius to imagine the possible horrors inherent in new technologies wielded by maniacal hands, such that one might pray for the privilege of having ones mouth surgically attached to someone else's anus. Let THAT one sink in for a while :)