The Island (2005 Film)

In the fictional world of The Island (2005), an insurance company promises to secure the health of a wealthy few who can afford to purchase organs should the future need ever arise; however, customers are unaware that their sustenance is dependent upon the death of others.

The promised organs are from clones, from human beings who are imprisoned on the island, ‘grown’ for their health benefits to others and falsely convinced that the outside world is contaminated.

The uninformed organ donors are assured that with hard work, they will eventually win a lottery that permits entry into the uncontaminated place, but this area of hope, of purity and of freedom is nothing more than a slaughtering ground. The lottery is rigged so that the ‘winner’ would be killed, and his (or her) organs harvested. The film meaningfully illustrates the myth of progress: the islanders are promised that by working diligently to progress they would eventually win, yet once they actually achieved their goal, once they progressed to ultimate satisfaction, they met their demise. In reality, the modern advancement designed to better humanity is an illusion.

The Island, like most science fiction, poses the question: Will the desire for perfection consistently lead to unchecked progress until human beings eventually become obsolete?

The people on the island exist not as individuals with goals and desires and passions, but instead, they live like robots, with set schedules and prescribed performance duties. They exist as technology, as man-made objects used to augment human ability. Those who are wealthy buy the insurance policies and are oblivious to the details. They so desperately want to believe in health progression that they are ignorant to its consequences.

As a result of modernity, the richness of humanity is lost. Human possibilities have been actualized into the efficiency of technology, and it is therefore a world in opposition to objects. But because objects are in constant flux, it is impossible to define oneself in relation to something so frequently changeable. To tolerate change, it is necessary to include the sacred, something that is immovable and indestructible by which to chart movements and promote unified communities. The myths of modernity imply that with more efficiency, there is progress toward perfection, and ultimately, toward satisfaction.

While it makes sense to progress in a world that has given up God for the secular, as the secular is more inclusive and current, it is impossible to ever truly be satisfied if morality is not redefined.

The argument is not that there needs to be a return to religion, but rather that by forfeiting that which is permanent (the concept right and wrong) in exchange for consumerism and commodity culture (the constant improvement toward that which is thinner, cuter, faster) the result is a loss of vision. Thus, modern beings, much like the wealthy who have purchased the policies, have lost sight of the fact that technology is being weaponized. There has been a transition from blind faith in religion to a blind faith in technology, but the latter leaves little room for introspection. Technology can only benefit humanity if it is governed by ideals of virtue ethics, that if even one person is harmed, avoid the advancement.

Technology has a way of naturalizing itself, and as such, it is natural, even inevitable that progression would lead to a way of bettering society—by harvesting organs for the salvation of the few who could afford the process. However, every utopia creates its own dystopia hidden behind it, which allows for the utopia. The Island seems to question the ideals of a society which will choose technological advancement over the preservation of humanity.

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