Science Fiction/Fantasy Influence on our Culture: Part 2

18 Apr

3rd. article in our 7week series on Sci-Fi/Fantasy

By Littlebells

Science Fiction and Fantasy films allow us as an audience to indulge our minds in the “what ifs” of our imaginations.  They bring to life the adventures, places, and people/creatures we have dreamed since our youth.  They can also hold spiritual messages enlightening us to dig a little deeper within ourselves to connect to others and find our own truth.

Spirituality can refer to an inner path that enables one to delve deeper into the essence of their true self.  This can include morals, beliefs, and a connectedness to a higher reality.  Sci fi/fantasy films generally incorporate themes of tolerance, courage, compassion, love, believing in oneself, human connection, and conquering evil.  Most Sci fi/fantasy films aren’t blatantly obvious in a spiritual message, but you can find gems hidden throughout that have a deeper meaning.  Below are some films I felt carried some very spiritual moments.

Avatar

James Cameron’s AVATAR depicts a strong spiritual connection between one world and another.  The Tree of Souls connects the Na’vi to their ancestors and is considered the most spiritual point of existence.  The tree is able to connect with the world as well as its people.[1]  Many people believe that life continues after death and we are intermittently connected.  Some have felt the presence of those on the other side and that what we see with our natural eyes is nothing compared to that of our spiritual eyes.

E.T.

E.T. and Elliot have a very emotional connection that ultimately becomes a physical connection (i.e. mimicking one’s behaviors and characteristics). E.T. also acts almost Christ-like in his healing powers, goodness, and resurrection after death.  E.T. brings a purity that is endearing and inspiring. Again, in the scene above, E.T. tells Elliot “I’ll be right here.”  For many of us, knowing that we have loved ones on the “other side” brings us comfort.  It is never easy saying goodbye, but feeling their presence after they are gone can give us more peace.

Star Wars

This clip is pretty self-explanatory and one of the best representing those who try to manipulate and destroy but through sheer inner strength and courage, good conquers evil.

The NeverEnding Story

Michael Ende’s story is filled with many spiritual traits such as courage, faith, the forces of evil that pray on our weaknesses, pride, humility, and forgiveness.  The “Nothing” is destroying Fantasia, and as we learn from Gmork, the wolf, we learn the “Nothing” is the creation of human hopelessness, sadness, delusions, and madness. When Fantasians pass through the nothing,

They will become delusions in the minds of human beings, fears where there is nothing to fear, desires for vain, hurtful things, despairing thoughts where there is no reason to despair.”[2]

The only way to destroy the “Nothing” is to fight against it with inner strength, love, and hope.

The Chronicles of Narnia 

The themes in these chronicles are endless: life and death, resurrection, prayer and response, suffering and the apparent abandonment of God, faith and proof, leadership, lost spiritual heritage and re-discovery, and finding meaning in our existence.[3]

Why does it seem we need spirituality in our films?  Is there a purpose to displaying positive and uplifting attributes conquering the evil and destructive ones?  How does it affect our culture?  Are we looking for deeper meaning in our own lives?

Also see: Science Fiction/Fantasy Influence on our Culture: Part 1

Please join for a discussion Thursday 4/19/2012@7pmE/12UTC


[2] Ende, Michael.  The NeverEnding Story. Pg. 151

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60 Responses to “Science Fiction/Fantasy Influence on our Culture: Part 2”

  1. Open Book April 18, 2012 at 1:23 PM #

    LB-

    Great article. Given we are currently discussing the book “The NeverEnding Story” on Page to Silver Screen. What about Michael Endes spiritual philosophy that u thought really brought to life Bastian? Meaning what characteristics did u find most inspiring about this character and Endes spiritual beliefs?

    • littlebells April 18, 2012 at 2:22 PM #

      Thank goodness we talked about this before. hahaha!!!

      Well let me say first to any new and returning visitors: if you have not read the book, PLEASE DO! The movie does not do the book justice as 1) the movie ends halfway through the book, 2) there is so much symbolism and situations where we watch Bastian grow and develop, and 3) the first part of the book is the build up for the second half. As for Michael Ende’s beliefs, Anthroposophy, here is a mini explanation:

      “Anthroposophy is a human oriented spiritual philosophy that reflects and speaks to the basic deep spiritual questions of humanity, to our basic artistic needs, to the need to relate to the world out of a scientific attitude of mind, and to the need to develop a relation to the world in complete freedom and based on completely individual judgments and decisions.”

      Honestly OB, I love all of Bastian’s characteristics. I liked watching him go from lonely, timid, book nerd to overly self-confident, prideful, and paranoid to humble, meek, and more emotionally mature. Bastian had to strip away all his emotional layers to find his true self. He had to look his flaws in the face, so to speak, and decide how he wanted to grow and change. Again, the movie itself does not show ANY OF THIS and it is a real disappointment. I would really like to see Ende and a great director and screenwriter collaborate and create a new version that shows the true meaning behind the story. Yes there is the message of not losing our imaginations and keeping our inner child from going away, but there is so much more!

      Did that answer your question? hahaha!!!!

      (ps. I will be posting more discussion at PTSS later today)

      • Open Book April 20, 2012 at 4:11 PM #

        Hi LB-

        Yes! U did answer my question and then some. What I love most about your answer regarding Bastian?

        U said: “I liked watching him go from lonely, timid, book nerd to overly self-confident, prideful, and paranoid to humble, meek, and more emotionally mature. Bastian had to strip away all his emotional layers to find his true self. He had to look his flaws in the face, so to speak, and decide how he wanted to grow and change.”

        Me: This is one of the most valuable lessons about this story. Far too often we can stop growing spiritually because of some emotional trauma or incident that occured in our lives. I mean physically u may mature but emotionally u can remain a child without fully being cognizant of it. Why is that?

        Anyway, sorry I missed a great discussion.

  2. Comic Relief April 18, 2012 at 1:42 PM #

    This is a cool article.

    • littlebells April 18, 2012 at 2:11 PM #

      Thank you CR. 🙂

      • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 3:24 AM #

        LB,

        I’m sorry what I meant to say was usually when I read or see science fiction or fantasy movies I’m usually so captivated with the physical, material, or visceral innovations. In sci-fi film fascinations particular to technology might include:

        1. What kind of clothes might a citizen of this environment wear, how do the clothes keep individuals warm (or do they need to), how revealing are they, what are they made of, how comfortable are they…

        2. How do people communicate, do they use machine communicators or phones do they speak our language or use another, do they talk to each other or do they communicate with machines,

        3. How do people travel, do they use vehicles or not, do they drive or fly, do they walk, teleport, or ride, and if so how do they do all or either and how is that different from the way I do it…

        4. What weapons are used, do they kill, maul, incapacitate, or just neutralize, how do they do this if they are either lethal or non-lethal, who decided the weapons should act that way and why, are the weapons smart, or do they rely on our wisdom…

        Your article puts so much more emphasis on what we believe, why a world might better support our needs or why our dreams might be better satisfied, how our anxieties might be relieved, or how our stresses might be addressed. Ultimately these innovations might even make us happier and relieve far more than our material or product oriented appetites.

        • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 6:54 PM #

          Well CR, I tend to notice those things you mentioned as well, but probably not as well as you. 🙂 Also, it’s not all scifi/fantasy films that have blatant or hidden gems in them. But for the few that do, it’s nice to see what we can take away. 🙂

          • Comic Relief April 20, 2012 at 5:06 PM #

            Sorry don’t get me blabbing, designer types have to be product obsessed. Ultimately it’s embarrassing. Fortunately actor/musician/entertainer types like you and Paris are saved from this level of materialism since as professionals you have to be such persuasive performers and covert psychological engineers.

            As I’m sure you recognized these obsessions have little to do with nor encourages spiritual sensitivity or reflection.

    • littlebells April 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM #

      CR,

      Are there any films mentioned in the article or not mentioned, that have made you self-reflect or reaffirm something you already believed in and felt true?

      • Comic Relief April 18, 2012 at 9:52 PM #

        I remember how strange it was to find out Vader was Skywalker’s dad. Yep, Luke’s worst enemy was his own pop. Since a lot of people have strained or complicated relationships with the parent, they share the same gender with, the plot twist on Lucas’ part was a satisfying turn of events. Also discord wise, it added an aspect of real family relations rarely supported by this genre.

        • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 6:54 PM #

          and the girl you are crushing on is your SISTER!!!! Ewwww!!! hahahahahaha!!!

          • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM #

            Oh yeah the brother-sister crush. Yeah yuck. Guess I blocked that out.

  3. littlebells April 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM #

    Darn you John Williams! Darn you and your amazing compositions that make me cry every stinking time….ok, anyway…:)

    I failed to mention another beautiful message in E.T.: a deep and abiding love for those who are different from us and the importance we can have in each other’s lives. Well I got that anyway…:)

    • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:26 AM #

      LB,

      Since you mentioned the score I thought I would look it up. IMO, always really stellar as compositions, E.T was a children’s movie yet William’s music never appears to be handled in a childish manner.

      • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 6:57 PM #

        The man can do no wrong in my opinion. It’s interesting you should mention how E.T. is a children’s movie and yet how many of us as adult still can recall how fantastic it was when we saw it and still tear up (sniff sniff) when we see it to this day. I think this film, along with other children fantasy films, coupled with Williams amazing talent, are created and enjoyed from the inner child that we still love. Just because we are older, wear bigger shoes, have jobs, and more responsibilities doesn’t mean we have to stop looking in wonder and amazement like that from the eyes of a child.

        • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:41 PM #

          I’m sorry maybe E.T. wasn’t a children’s film? I thought I was saying that in a complimentary way.

          I like your way of resolving my gaff.

          “doesn’t mean we have to stop looking in wonder and amazement like that from the eyes of a child.”

          • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 8:49 PM #

            Oh no!!! I wasn’t saying it wasnt! I liked the compliment!

  4. littlebells April 19, 2012 at 7:45 PM #

    hahahaha!!! Couldn’t resist…:)

    • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:39 PM #

      That was weird. Thanks. I listened for a while and was surprised and distresed when it turned off.

    • Open Book April 20, 2012 at 4:13 PM #

      THIS IS FUN!!!! I call this free to check out from reality music. LOL!!

      • littlebells April 20, 2012 at 5:35 PM #

        I was hanging out by myself here for a little yesterday and thought I would entertain myself. Hahahahaha!!!!

  5. ozzie20 April 19, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

    Hi all!

    Cool article LB! Avatar’s message was the one that really stood out for me. Although with the others I was alot younger when I saw them and any message probably went over my head, lol!

    • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      What was it about Avatar’s message and what your overall thoughts on the film?

      • ozzie20 April 19, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

        It was respecting nature and being more intune with it. How if we use our resources to build superficial things that we don’t really need, we could ruin the planet. Everything has a knock on effect etc.I think using a different world helped with the message as it protrayed us as the evil aliens. Films seem to constantly use evil aliens invading Earth for it’s resources but with Avatar, it switched it around. It makes us think differently.

        • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:36 PM #

          Ditto (meaning agreed and exceptionally well put).

        • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM #

          It is my personal opinion that the earth and human beings are greatly connected and need the other for survival. Each has it’s purpose.

  6. Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:23 PM #

    LB,

    Hi all. I have some questions for you.

    • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 8:25 PM #

      Hi CR!

      • ozzie20 April 19, 2012 at 8:33 PM #

        Hi CR!

  7. Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

    LB,

    Speaking of Star Wars, how do you react to characters like Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi? Both played teacher roles and had a huge influence on Luke’s beliefs.

    • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 8:26 PM #

      Yay! I was hoping someone would bring them up!

      Let me chew on this a bit because there is much to say…

    • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM #

      Yoda seemed a very prophetic being. He had transcended the temporal and looked at things with clearer eyes. Both he and Obi-Wan had developed self mastery and were not deterred from that which is good. They were Infineon with “the force” and could call upon that power without faltering. Luke was leRning how to become more disciplined and trust in himself that he had the power to conquer evil.

      • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:57 PM #

        Cool answer; I was already sure that question would open the flood gates (metaphorically speaking)

      • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 9:05 PM #

        friggin autocorrect (back on my computer now). Infineon should be “intune”.

        • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 9:10 PM #

          You know I was going to ask about that but I really make too many mistakes to underline anyone else’s. Today I’m not having nearly as dyslexic a day as some others.

          • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 9:16 PM #

            Hey, just know anytime you see a word that looks made up or makes no sense I’m blaming it on my phone!!!! 🙂 hahaha!!! And I don’t worry too much about anyone else’s mistakes either. 🙂

  8. Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:25 PM #

    LB,

    “The X-Files” TV Series (1993 – 2002) had a female almost anti- hero in that her beliefs were used to almost refute the oddities that appeared in the show?

    • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 9:06 PM #

      You know I didn’t really watch the X-files.

      I known there are many who say if science can’t prove it, it doesn’t exist. However, that’s not necessarily true. Somethings are beyond anything we can comprehend or see with human eye.

      • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 9:13 PM #

        Didn’t watch the x-files? Not even on DVD?

        Regardless, your overall philosophy is refreshing just the same.

        • Comic Relief April 20, 2012 at 3:28 AM #

          Please ignore me regarding the X-files. I think I admitted to being a geek before.

  9. Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

    LB,

    Idol Chatter of Beliefnet.com had this to say about John Connor – The “Terminator” Series (1984-Present)

    “Like a great Biblical figure, we know John Connor mostly through the legends told of his heroism and leadership following the near annihilation of the human race. But Connor is a textbook case of the sort of moral authority and selfless crusader that brings out the best in his followers and reinforces the general worthiness of the humans he devotes his life to saving. And the initials “J.C.” are hardly coincidental.”

    Did you find this character to be equally compelling or did you see these similarities as a coincidence?

    • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 8:52 PM #

      It’s been foreeeever since I’ve seen Terminator…aaaaaahhhh, let me get back to you on this one.

      • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:59 PM #

        I’m patient, when you’re able.

        • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 9:10 PM #

          thank you. 🙂

          Ok, yes, I do see the similarities. Also, I think he is a great example of how we all have the potential to be great leaders. And by great leaders, someone who serves others and sets the example of what it takes to be loving, compassionate, etc…Unfortunately there are a lot of “sheep” and don’t really develop these skills themselves. they depend on others to show them the way and if that leader goes off the depend so do the sheep.

          Take what you learn and apply it to your own life and the person you want to become and you won’t falter.

          • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 9:18 PM #

            Wow, your Auto-correct is a monster. I will assume “depend” was “deep end.” I hear a science fiction story waiting to be written.

            And I like your evaluation as well.

  10. Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

    Ozzie,

    Are you a big fan of Sci-Fi? seems like your knowledge about Harry Potter was pretty hefty. Sorry I missed the discussion.

    • ozzie20 April 19, 2012 at 9:16 PM #

      I am a fan of Sci-Fi, I don’t know how big of a fan I am of it. I’ve never actually thought about it, lol! Hmmmm……..I guess I am. I like movies that take us to a different world, it helps to forget this one more easily for a few hours, lol. Apart from Harry Potter, I don’t tend to follow other movies so closely or get into the fandom. Now that Harry Potter is over, I obviously don’t have that to follow now either. But I’m sure something else will come along soon. 🙂

      • Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 9:21 PM #

        Cool answer, I wouldn’t hold your breathe. New stuff is always in development.

        • Comic Relief April 20, 2012 at 3:41 AM #

          …or maybe I should say I would not worry about holding your “BREATH.”

          New stuff is always in development. (SIGH)

  11. Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

    LB,

    Last question. In A.I. the character David is described this was described this way by Beliefnet.com’s Idol Chatter?

    “Steven Spielberg’s hypnotic retelling of Pinocchio meditates even more deeply on the implicit religious questions raised by the classic tale. This time, the man-made boy who wants to be real must go on a quest not just to become human, but to understand what it is to love, to find one’s Eden, and to live forever.”

    Many of these topics do not align with many more traditional religions. Do you like it when films chart unique ground for spiritual discussion in films? Your discussion about “Never ending story” made it appear that you had a very wide appetite for spiritual themes.

    • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM #

      Let me watch A.I. again and I will get back to you.

      I think I have a large appetite for things that inspire, uplift, and encourage one to be better. 🙂 I think I am working towards my great potential, whatever that may be, and it’s going to require me to always delve deeper and think higher to reach it. hahaha!!! Is that wacko or what?

      • Open Book April 20, 2012 at 4:25 PM #

        Not wacko at all. I find it inspiring.

    • Comic Relief April 20, 2012 at 3:32 AM #

      LB,

      Last question. In A.I. the character David is described this was described this way by Beliefnet.com’s Idol Chatter?

      WOW, WHAT A MESS! SEE I’M TOO PRONE TO MAKE TYPOGRAPHICAL MISTAKES TO COMMENT ON ANYONE ELSE’S. AT THE END OF THE DAY IT CAN BE HARD TO EVALUATE YOUR WRITING. I MEANT TO SAY:

      Last question. In A.I., the character David is described this way by Beliefnet.com’s Idol Chatter?

      The rest I beleive is fine. “FHEW!”

      • Comic Relief April 20, 2012 at 3:42 AM #

        “BELIEVE” (Starting to tear up.)

  12. Comic Relief April 19, 2012 at 9:06 PM #

    Since I stole from it 3 times I should mention this article;

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/idolchatter/2008/05/10-greatest-spiritual-characte.html

    Again great and very soulful article LB.

    I’m sure I’ll be returning to the topic for some time to come.

    See you both soon.

    • littlebells April 19, 2012 at 9:11 PM #

      Thanks for your questions CR!

      If you get a chance…I would strongly suggest reading the NeverEnding Story. I would love to know your thoughts on what is written and what you have to look for in the text.

      have a great night!

      • Open Book April 20, 2012 at 4:23 PM #

        ITA!! I’m going to snitch on CR. He would not read the book and would only watch the film. What do have to say for yourself CR now u know the book is much better than the film?

        • Comic Relief April 20, 2012 at 5:09 PM #

          Give me a break. I may pick it up yet.

  13. littlebells April 19, 2012 at 9:25 PM #

    Alright, I am going to go climb my mountain and release doves while singing Kumbayah. It seems natural after this discussion. hahahahahaha!!!

    I will check back later if you have any further questions or comments.

    I will leave you with this question though: how do you think films like the ones mentioned (countless others not listed) affect our culture?

Comments are closed.

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