No Turning Back (2019)
serious topic: the lack of space to be. For some.
I have never before written a review of a movie I did not see. But in regards to this one I feel compelled.
Judging from the trailer the acting and the cinematography leaves something to be desired. The lighting is off, there is an abundance of close-ups of actors, who all seem wooden from lack of competence or bad directing, the script is too casually “normal” – all tell tale signs of a low budget, lack of professionalism on all levels, including the financiers.
None the less “No Turning Back” has won or been nominated for several awards – best picture, best director – which could be due to lower quality of other contestants. But.
The topic is relevant. That’s it. Why would anyone with a functioning family leave all and everyone for a place there is no coming back from?
When the world was colonised, most often by men, women often only being along for amusement or procreation, there was rarely an idea of “coming back”. What was left behind was the grueling monotony of basic survival, often at the merciless hands of diseases, local wars and despots, lack of food and entertainment – basically the idea that “standing still” was equal to dying, the death of the spirit. Men became pioneers and scouts, ofte paying with their life for this dream of variation in life, of “freedom to roam”, to make a buck to secure the path for those following to establish secure outposts of civilisation.
Then came the migration of whole families to the sparse lands, often to more gruelling work, but with the opportunity initially to stake out their own claims and become their own masters. Nothing fancy about it – every luxury that had preciously been enjoyed had to be made from the bottom up, but there was freedom to roam, free space.
And now we are over-civilised. Our cities are mostly just filled with people surviving in a complex trade of time for sustenance and entertainment. There is little freedom affordable for anyone in a family. Just like… always. And there is little excitement, for anyone, which is not either a depravity of lust outside of common acceptance or understanding, or an enjoyment of knowing and understanding something “before anyone else”. Where to go to feel a real freedom of the soul? Something that feels not like a repair of a faulty culture or yet another fragmentation of scientific facts into another new field of study, that one can “own”, or a manuscript or novel or poetry collection or record or play or series of paintings or performance or building or invention of a gadget that brings some cashflow and shifts some jobs or create a few new ones, or a power position, which changes nothing from lack of absolute dominion…
The only thing left is the spaces in-between everything. There is no more room for real expansion. Exploration, yes, and relatively safe as such – often a rescue helicopter a call away – excelling at sports, production, academic studies, vaccines. But the feeling is generally that the Earth is full.
Humanity has exhausted its options as a species. Which is why you will read and see lots of fantasies about AI overlords, alien invasions, deadly vira (yeah, that one didn’t change much, did it?!), time travel… a million more fantastic tropes await you – because life is predictable and monotonous in the overall picture. And we try to imagine what would not be boring, while at the same time feel worth the risk of dying.
Preparing the whole human species for life on a new planet. Maybe that is it? Life on Earth is not “fixable” – barring a natural or man made catastrophe, which would “re-boot civilisation” (essentially wipe out too many people to keep everything running as it is) – but tackling the impossible, setting down stakes on a barren planet, first for science to “conquer” (understand and make habitable), then setting up shop and create a life and begin the exploration of the NEW again, while being forced to invent on the spot and make new language for new experiences, and new rules to fit new circumstance, and raise children in a fresh environment unhampered by old morals and ethics (well, exporting hetero normative sexuality and similar ideals of personal ownership might be the easiest, but it would also guarantee a fast return to internal strife, so think hard on that one) – all of it appeals to everyone, who re-watched “The Martian” seven times.
Believing it CAN BE DONE, and I MIGHT NOT DIE, and IT’S WORTHWILE and EXCITING are all traits of business, war, exploration, conquest, and science. And going on a one-way trip to Mars for science, while leaving everyone behind… How do you actually defend that?
Maybe this film does or does not argue that question well, but it tries. And we need that. For we are still those explorers, the primitives longing for the big open expanse, and the collaborators, who carve out nieces and go about changing malfunctions from within. And the primitives have no more room to be. On Earth.
Oh – and notice how the poster title uses the NASA font. Not the TRUMP font.