Netflix often gives us opportunities to consume media that we would have never really had the provocation to otherwise. I watched the 1996 version of The Island of Doctor Moreau as a child because my older brother loved science fiction and horror (that’s probably where I get my science fiction and fantasy proclivities from). I saw this-the 1977 version- on Netflix tonight and it didn’t take much persuasion for me to convince my wife to watch it as well. I remember it as a very scary movie (1996 version) as a child. This version had less realistic violence and special effects so I didn’t find it terribly “scary”. But I did find it as a good cultural critique or social commentary.
Doctor Moreau had went through the exploratory pursuit of making animals (dogs, lions, pigs, bears, etc…) into men through cell manipulation. In one particularly interesting segment, Doctor Morea asked, “Could we change destiny?” and the hero of the tale (Braddock) says, “Should we?” I immediately thought of a line from the Batman V. Superman trailer, “We were so caught up with what he could do, we forgot to ask what he should do…” This theme is rampant throughout science fiction-the theme of man’s extreme arrogance.
Doctor Moreau had given his creations (those under his rule) a set of laws to follow that the Sayer of the Law (one of the beings) often repeated. This Sayer of the Law was sort of the beings’ attempt at self-governance or self regulation. And the self governance worked up until a time.
In a fit of rage, Doctor Moreau killed a mercenary that worked for him. He shot him twice in the back. The beings/creations saw this and started talking amongst themselves. “What good are the laws if the master does not follow them?” “He tells us not to shed blood, but he sheds blood?” Now, these beings did not have a high IQ but they still understood that it wasn’t right for the master to give laws that he didn’t have to obey.
Dystopian (or any kind of) literature has the capacity to “wake us up” or reveal things to us.
I don’t know what this story has to tell us about #BlackLivesMatter, if anything.
I don’t know what it has to tell us about the growing disparity between rich and poor people in America, if anything.
I don’t know what it has to tell us about soldiers coming home to a lack of care and welfare for their physical and other maladies.
I don’t know what it has to tell us about the current state of affairs, but I think it has something to tell us.
What do you think it has to tell us?