|In a way, this is a truly brilliant poster: it's his face, the face of a singular individual, and we all know that face. Knowing an individual, as opposed to an American astronaut, or a Chinese explorer, a British physicist, etc., touches the intensely human within us all. Why make this film? I think there are at least three reasons. First, the Obama administration has castrated NASA and the American space exploration initiative, intentionally, because he doesn't want us achieving great things, working out problems that bring us closer together (no where in the film is the president called upon to make a statement or express "grave concern" over the situation, it's just Teddy, the head of NASA, who invokes President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt who was a champion of the American spirit). A film such as The Martian draws attention to what we are NOT doing as a country that we have always done in the past: explore and break boundaries. Secondly, the film demonstrates the intense resiliency of a single person, who has no help, but only his wits, and manages to survive without a government welfare check or a FEMA tent. Granted, he had the Aries III equipment, but he's the one who figures out how to find the Pathfinder satellite so he can reach NASA and get further instructions, no one does that for him, he did that himself, just like pulling out that antenna from his stomach (an important symbol we will discuss below). Thirdly, when socialist political theory is still trying to dominant the world, Scott produces a film which demonstrates how special, unique and utterly important the individual human being is, all concepts totally alien to socialists who believe humans are merely animals with no soul nor singularity. The world rallying to the ultimate fate of Watney demonstrates that we all believe in one another and are, on our deepest levels within our souls, for one another, even when politics and history says otherwise. Now, on an entirely different note, let's discuss an important question: why Matt Damon? Plenty of actors could have played this role, and Damon really hasn't had a hit in many years (in spite of being labeled Hollywood's "Best Value" for return investment). One, we just saw Damon and Chastain in another space film, Interstellar by Chris Nolan, in which Damon portrayed a scientist who was the exact opposite of Watney: ready to give up and just die, as well as sacrifice others for his own survival. Scott, in his film, wants us to be mindful of that so we can compare and contrast Damon's two characters. Secondly, Damon is an active and vocal liberal,who hasn't been quite so liberal as of late, and seems to be finding a more center stance for himself on political issues, and seeing a liberal in such a dire atmosphere of self-sufficiency and survival sends conservative audiences a message about the real subtext of the film (and we shouldn't be surprised by this because both of Scott's last films, Prometheus and Exodus: Gods and Kings, contain important political messages as well).|
the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition: it's not so much comparing her and her decisions to the actual Expedition across America, rather, an invocation of the American spirit. Mark Watney's name yields two important clues about him: first, he will leave his "mark" on Mars, not only in the note he leaves behind in the Rover that saved his life, but as well, that he was the first to cultivate crops on the planet and, therefore, colonized it, according to textbook definitions. Secondly, the "watts" of bright ideas Watney has in overcoming countless problems and obstacles is a part of his being, his identity that shows in his name. There is also Rich Purnell, the astrophysicist who has the "rich" ingenuity to create the gravity assist plan that will jettison the Hermes space craft back to Mars to pick up Watney (for Teddy's name, please see caption above). What about this little, seemingly unimportant detail of the film: disco music?
There are at least two reasons.
the disco genre was a largely minority art form: women, homosexuals Latinos and blacks were the ones predominantly patronizing disco music and clubs (until the release of the John Travolta film, Saturday Night Live, during which time it spread in influence). Mark Watney is a white male, who would normally not be associated with disco, however, as he goes on, day-to-day, more of the music begins to illustrate his battles and what he is going through; in other words, the musical art form creates a public platform where there is a meeting of the majority (Watney as a white male and dominant power holder in America) and the minority (Lewis as a female in command and a minority and a first time female commander of a planetary mission), where they can both discuss their problems and find that common ground politicians would like to deny (in today's world) exists. By the end of the film when I Will Survive plays, we know that even though the song is about a woman letting a man back into her life, we can understand more about the dangers she is facing in this situation, and even though Watney is a white male who seemingly has all the power and privilege in the world, he, too, has suffered greatly, and both retain psychological scars and victories. Then, there is the second reason,...
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