What I Took From After The Dark
A while back I watched a film called After The Dark aka The Philosophers. For me personally, it could have been better executed and the ending disappointed me, but the concept behind it was really interesting regardless. The start of the film was perhaps far more interesting than the final conclusion. It was about a philosophy teacher challenging his class to make decisions in the event that the human race is nearing extinction. He did this by getting them to choose random cards, assigning them jobs and traits, and then having them choose who they would take into an underground shelter to save – there are limited resources. Throughout the film they go through a number of different scenarios. If you want to avoid spoilers then stop reading now.
At the start they explain some philosophical concepts that I found really compelling. A few of them I had already heard of like the infinite monkey theorem and train dilemma (which I happened to do an assignment on once to test how emotionally engaged we are while playing video games.) They then explored three different scenarios, explaining why they made the choices that they did. In the first one the only thing they know about each other is their job, and as you’d expect they decide to take those with the best technical skills. The teacher is also taking part, but has hidden his skills. They decide to leave him behind, only to later realize that he is the only one that knows the exit code to the bunker – he helped in its construction. As such they all get stuck inside and fail the scenario.
On the second scenario they open up their cards to reveal a trait such as sexuality, illness or infertility. This makes a massive difference to the choices they make. Once again they make logical choices based on what will give the human race the best chance to continue. This means including both men and women that are capable of breeding. After so long of trying to get pregnant and failing they discuss changing partners around, but one of the girls feels uncomfortable with this and refuses. The teacher then threatens her with a gun – presumably due to the importance of prolonging the human race – only this results in everyone getting killed.
On the final scenario only the people with non-technical skills are chosen, such as singers and poets. This time the bunker is filled with joy and creativity. Despite being locked up they can entertain themselves and all get along. There seems to be no concern or pressure in regards to continuing the human race. The teacher exclaims that they will all die due to the lack of technical skills, but he is countered with the fact that by the time death comes they will welcome it.
Each scenario felt like an exploration of art and science. What I took from this is that while we may try to form logical and what almost seems like heartless conclusions, the truth is that humans are emotional beings prone to making irrational decisions. In the first couple of scenarios they were only living for the future and survival of the race and that led them into stress and conflict. In the final scenario they are living for themselves to enjoy their last moments. During a final scene the teacher approaches one of the students, telling her that he doesn’t think the guy she is with is smart enough for her, to which she responds, ‘Intelligence isn’t everything.’ I think we would prefer to choose the people that we care about rather than the ones that we know would be good for survival. Is it more important for us to live for ourselves rather than being concerned with a future that we may not be a part of? – Then again, I believe that our way of combating mortality is to pass on our knowledge to our children.
I enjoyed the film, but with all the build up I expected a larger pay off at the end. It seemed like it was more to do with the relationship between the teacher and one of his students than a philisophical commentary. It’s almost like the film is trying to come across as being smarter than it actually is and that left me confused as to what it is actually trying to be – then again I’m not very philosophically minded. The way the characters behave is also a little odd at times. It seems like one of those things that people will either find really engaging or really dull. Either way, I thought it was a fairly unique concept with some interesting content. The little bit of humour peppered throughout was also entertaining.