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Stephen Speicher

Equilibrium (2002)

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I'm surprised there are no comments on this. This movie has some great moments, and for a (relatively) low budget film manages some terrific visuals. Thematically, it's man vs state.

More specifically, the State has decreed that all citizens inject with "Prozium" every day, a drug that suppresses the highs and lows of human emotion. And while it mistakenly implies 'emotions' to be the source of man's rights (and not reason, the only faculty capable of conceptualising "rights" in the first place) it manages to get across an individualistic message.

The villains express collectivist sentiments:

Father: Prozium. The great nepenthe. Opiate of our masses. Glue of our great society. Salve and salvation, it has delivered us from pathos, from sorrow, the deepest chasms of melancholy and hate. With it, we anesthetize grief, annihilate jealousy, obliterate rage. Those sister impulses towards joy, love, and elation are anesthetized in stride, we accept as fair sacrifice. For we embrace Prozium in its unifying fullness and all that it has done to make us great.

His justification lies in the collective; prozium's "unifying" effect.

DuPont: It's not the message that is important but our obedience to it.

Kantian sense of duty, regardless of values.

Father: At the cost of the dizzying highs of human emotion, we

have suppressed its abysmal lows. And you, as a society, have embraced this cure. Prozium. Now we are at peace with ourselves and human kind is one. War is gone. Hate, a memory. We are our own conscience now, and it is this conscience that guides us to rate EC-10, for emotional content, all those things that might tempt us to feel, again, and destroy them. Librians, you have won. Against all odds, and your own natures: You have survived.

1) Demonstrates how the simultaneous undercutting of thought and preaching of 'collective conciousness' (and therefore, consience) leads to a tyrannical monopoly on values. 2) Malevolent premise of man's inherently evil natures undercuts the common man's moral certainty.

Unfortunately, the heroes lack a solid philosophical base other than their 'feelings', which (in this particular case) leads them to the right conclusion (as the government is overthrown), but taken literally could be self-destructive. (Ironically, this is the villains' reason for administering prozium in the first place - to prevent war and violence).

Most importantly, their actions demonstrate an implicit anti-collectivist philosophy. No need for a "Galt's speech", but a line or two would have been nice.

Great production(!), benevolent sense of life, some flawed premises. Highly recommended.

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