Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

For part one, click here

Just a quick quote from St. Paul to start:

For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now… (Romans 8:19-22 — bold mine)

Dawn_Apes

Throughout the Old Testament, we see that while Israel is indeed the nation of the Chosen People, God gives the advantage to the nations surrounding Israel whenever the latter strays from its divinely appointed mission.

It is interesting to think of what it would look like if God were to go a step further.  What if He were to respond to the failure and sin of humanity, His true Chosen Race on earth, by giving the advantage of reason and en-soulment to the animals, or to anything else in creation?

Certainly, if He were to do so, the apes would seem to be the most logical choice.  They are, after all, the closest to us on the “Chain of Being” among all creatures in this world.

KobaMatt Reeves’ “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” shows us what this scenario might look like.  In the film, apes have effectively dismantled human society, reclaimed nature for themselves, and basically taken charge of the earth.

Beyond that, their very attitude toward human beings is a kind of judgement.  We can say this particularly in the case of the antagonist ape Koba (Toby Kebbell), who learned hatred from humanity after years of being subjected to torture in their laboratories.

What does this have to do with the opening quote?  Well, that goes back to the Orpheus analogy in Part one.  Creation relies on us to exercise good stewardship; if we fail to do so, we will learn about it one way or another.  Science fiction and fantasy scenarios that explore this reality in extra-ordinary ways are worthy of our reflection.

movies-dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-jason-clarkeAs for humanity itself, it is interesting to note that its trajectory from “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” to “Dawn” is not all that different from the trajectory of mankind in the Book of Genesis.

Confusion_of_TonguesHumanity’s sin reaches its height at the Tower of Babel, which men envisioned as a way of reaching heaven itself.  Likewise, the scientists in “Rise” — and many in today’s society — show forth a modern day Babel in their overreaching of ethical bounds in scientific and technological advancement.

The aftermath of Babel is well-known just about everyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible:

…there the LORD confused the speech of all the world. It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth. (Gen. 11:9)

In “Dawn,” the human community to which we are introduced is isolated, cut off from whatever remains of humanity.  That, in fact, is why Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his team go into ape territory in the first place: They are sent to gain access to a hydroelectric dam that could potentially bring electricity and, by extension, contact with other surviving communities back to their own.

Jason Clarke _ Andy SerkisSo how does it end?  I won’t give anything away, but I will say this: We do not easily learn from our mistakes.  Throughout the Bible, throughout human history, in current events, in our own communities, families, and lives, and alas, in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” we see something resembling the Orpheus story: It is much easier to turn around then to forge ahead, to turn to the darkness and to oneself in defensiveness or despair than to turn toward the light, so that our “works might not be exposed,” and lest we “be converted, and (God) heal (us)” (John 3:20, 12:40).

“Babel” image from Wikipedia; movie images obtained through a Google image search

Read Full Post »

Orpheus_EurydiceUndoubtedly one of the saddest myths of the ancient world was that of Orpheus and Eurydice.  After charming his way into Hades to find the soul of his deceased wife (Eurydice), Orpheus is promised that he can have her back from the dead as long as he does not turn around and look at her until he has reentered the Land of the Living.  Alas, he looks back too soon, and loses his beloved forever.

Orpheus is a sort of shadowy Christ-figure (albeit a failed one).  I imagine him walking forward towards the light with his beloved bride behind him, relying upon him to show him the way.

In my mind, there are a couple of analogies that could work here: Jesus Christ is the Orpheus-figure, and Eurydice represents His Bride, the Church.  And unlike Orpheus, Christ leads His Beloved unfailingly toward the light of the Kingdom.

Alternatively, we could look at it this way: Christ is the light at the end of the tunnel; mankind is Orpheus; and the remainder of creation is Eurydice.  And it is our “Orphic” duty to lead creation to its fulfillment in the Sabbath Rest which is the coming of God’s Kingdom.

But what happens when we turn our backs to the light?  What happens is we forfeit life — for ourselves, and for the creation subjugated to our dominion.

Dawn_of_the_Planet_of_the_ApesOkay…so what does any of this have to do with Matt Reeves’ recently released film “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?”  A decent amount — but what I have to say bears on the recent “Apes” franchise in general.

Rise-Planet-Apes-TrailerThe 2011 film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” directed by Rupert Wyatt, shows us the genesis of the apes’ takeover of the earth.  Basically, the apes develop their human-like intelligence as a result of being the subjects of experimental drug testing.  Clearly, this is an example of human science and technology gone awry.  Good in themselves, they are divorced from a moral and ethical framework and subjugated to the modern technological hubris of man — or the idea that we should do something simply because we have the capability.

It is interesting, in this case, to note the ancient sense of the word “hubris.”  Blogger Alex Jones brought this up in a comment he made on my most recent post:

The opposite of wisdom is the ancient word “hubris.” Hubris in the ancient sense is belief in an opinion that is contrary to how it is in reality. (Bold mine)

Not that science and technology are the only areas of human endeavor that can be affected by, and in turn affect, this impulse; but they are particularly strong in conveying to man a degree of control over reality, and therefore take on a particular danger if not handled carefully.

Original Sin

In any case, this understanding of hubris is the essential aspect of the sin of Adam and Eve and their fall from grace.  By eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — that is, by arrogating to themselves the uniquely divine prerogative of determining right and wrong — they presumed to make themselves the masters of reality.

So from the very beginning, we have been guilty of the “sin of Orpheus.”  We have abandoned our “Light” (God), and we have failed our “Eurydice” (creation) — and with disastrous consequences.

I’ll talk more about “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” — though without spoilers — in part two.

Still from “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” obtained through a Google image search; remaining images from Wikipedia

 

 

Read Full Post »