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Special Edition: Summit movie reviews

Nicholas Miller ’22

THE ROUNDUP

Welcome to a special edition of Miller’s Movie Corner, made in honor of this year’s summit on human dignity, which has been focused on none other than our own city of Phoenix. In light of the 8 different and unique tracks we all have chosen from, I’ve decided to select 4 of these tracks and preview films that may help those interested in furthering their summit experience going forward.

  1. Environment and Sustainability (Drought) – Interstellar
  • So much can be said about this film as a wonderful Sci-Fi story and drama, but you may be wondering, what does it have to do with droughts or the environment? Well, while droughts themselves are seldom mentioned in this film, the disastrous occurrence of a second major crop blight is what sets the backdrop for the story, and is the main driving force of the plot that sends Cooper out into the stars. Though crop blights and droughts are different and far from the only environmental consequences we may be facing, they are often related events, and regardless their effects are almost just as devastating. For those wanting to deepen their summit experiences, imagine this dystopian future as our own, as though it may appear ridiculous, we’re on that same track. While contemplating this, see the similarities in our own world today, like those who ignore the significance of our current drought, and especially, those who will suffer as a result of these disasters. What do you think the world should look like, instead of this future? And what would you be willing to do to prevent it? Now, put those thoughts into action, and ask, “what can I do now?”

Don’t limit yourself to just these questions, just be open to the experience and take your time as there may be more to contemplate. Afterwards, focus on what actions you can take, as this drought alongside many other factors related to climate change, leaves us with a potentially troubling future, and it will be up to people like those of us here at Brophy to change that.

     2. Migration and Indigenous Rights – Avatar

  • Alright, so unless you live under a very large rock, chances are you know this film and therefore I don’t need to explain the surface of the film, and can instead focus on its significant symbolism of both migration and indigenous peoples. Obviously, the Na’vi are representative of the Indigenous peoples of our planet, as their uniquely similar nature-oriented culture, and tragic treatment of their people by humans, not so subtly mirrors Indigenous people and their own historic suffering. However, you may not know that Director James Cameron, more subtly lays the background of mass migration, as as the context of why humans are even traveling to Pandora, much less needing its resources, is that Earth has become so significantly polluted and inhospitable that people are forced to wear oxygen masks in the open streets, and wars are waged over what’s left (check the scripts and cut footage). Making the trip to Pandora is seen as a chance at a new life and the new frontier for humanity, which to many should be seen as strikingly similar to the perspectives of immigrants themselves. 

While watching this film, whether it’s your first time or your tenth, try separating yourself from whatever associations you have with the film previously, and experience it through the lenses of migrants and indigenous peoples. Try to place yourself in this world as one of them, and imagine being a part of that struggle for rights you are entitled to, and the desire for freedom that many of the main characters seek. Again, take some time to have your own experiences with these questions, and if you can, go further with your own thoughts. Now that you’ve taken some time to reflect, think about the major connections this film has to our world, what actions if any, do you feel compelled to take? What ones should you take? Contemplate this, alongside your own summit experience, and see in what ways you are called to incorporate these experiences into your own life or mindset.

     3. Police and Incarceration – The Mauritanian

  • To me, at its core, this film deals with the tragic horrors of incarceration to an extreme degree, in a far different situation than often discussed, which is why I believe many of you will find it worthwhile. To me, entertainment usually only addresses policing and incarceration in the most surface level and expected forms, like clear racial bias often against those of African or Hispanic descent, as well as the general neighborhood crime or gang perspective. Very rarely does entertainment highlight examples of these issues outside common knowledge, and this film is one of those rare movies. Focused on dealing with a darker U.S. history with the Middle East, specifically the horrors following 9/11, this film subtly acknowledges the conflict of race we often discuss today, now in regards to terrorism in that region and how Americans struggle to separate that from the race and beliefs of the people there. However, what I feel really elevates this film is its raw and harsh acknowledgment of incarceration at its worst, where it’s not focused on justice or rehabilitation in the slightest. While this film won’t be for all of you, I encourage you to try it out and see, as it can give you an entirely different perspective on this broad and complicated issue of incarceration. 

All I will say for this film and true story is just to let it engage and immerse you in the story and experience. From there, just see where your thoughts take you and go from there. What actions do you feel called to take afterwards? How about others? Let the thoughts simmer in your mind for a while and see how your perspective changes on the issue.

Though I only covered 4 of the 8 tracks, find some films that you feel may connect to the other topics, and if you’re interested in pushing your summit experience even further, ask yourself similar questions, and see if you can engage others in conversations about these films and topics as well. Overall, whatever you choose to do for the summit going forward, if anything, try to focus on engaging in what you’re most unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, with the intention of growing and improving yourself as a result.