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Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Movie Review: Circle

No opening credits, just a camera pan of a bunch of people standing in a circle, on separate red pods. Some of them disappear suddenly by falling off or stepping off. Worse than Game of Thrones; a character I liked died within minutes. What a movie. (Spoilers ahead.)

If The Good Place is a comedy about moral philosophy, this movie took it to the next level. It would
have been amazing to see a character like Chidi in this film, although I'm sure he would have sadly died early.

Key concepts explored: human nature, survival of the fittest, utilitarianism, and fundamentally; who has a 'right' to live? Does anyone?

I saw so much of daily life in this film. I saw YouTube arguments, online trolls, petty debates, desperation, manipulation, altruism, fear, 'God'. If you want to truly understand human psychology, this movie is perfect. It shows how people naturally act and behave in times of crisis, and brings out all of the good, bad, and ugly sides of humanity.

Plot was simple. There's a large group of people in a room. Every couple of minutes someone is going to die, and we are the ones who decides who dies by voting. There can only be one person left standing. If that group includes a healthy child and/or a pregnant lady, many agreed (including me) that you keep them alive till the end. Why?

From a logical perspective, the lady is carrying life, so she represents two people. The role of any living organism is to procreate, so she is continuing the line of our species. And the child, being young and strong, also has a chance to continue the human species, and is full of possibilities. We don't know what the child is going to become, be it a neurosurgeon or mass-murderer. Compared to a forty-year-old, the child is an empty slate.

Then there is the emotive aspect which I found particularly interesting. I was appalled at the ending with the twist (although very happy because I did NOT expect that). For most of the film, I was like 'save the child, save the pregnant lady' because the idea of killing a child, or a woman carrying an unborn baby, seems unthinkable. It seems to go against the basics of humanity. I watch a lot of violent movies and TV shows, and I have always found something especially inhumane about seeing a child killed on television. Killing another person is bad enough, but for a grown up to shoot a child, in cold blood? Even if that child is Rhoda Penmark, there is still something horrifying about murdering a kid.

What was also very interesting is that a sixteen-year-old boy volunteered to sacrifice himself at one point. That, to me, said a lot about how selfish and shit our species are, but at the same time, maybe we are supposed to be selfish? Is it really selfish to want to live? When it comes down to it, most people want to survive. Everybody wants to be seen, and recognised. Even the altruistic who don't mind sacrificing themselves will still protect their loved ones over others. If it comes down to my family or your family, fuck your family. This is humanity.

And is it really wrong? Is it really evil? It's very easy to condemn a guy and call him an emotionless sociopath for tricking a child at the last minute and letting a pregnant lady die. But how is he any worse from most of the other people who were also willing to let the child and pregnant lady die? And honestly, are you a worse person for valuing your own life over the life of a child?

We are built to want to survive, and this can translate to anything. I want to promote my books. I want my friends to love me best. I want to be the smartest person in the room. I want to be the girl who gets the most appealing guy. Is this selfish, or just the human condition?

Humans compete with each other for resources. Female-on-female cruelty or cattiness is not 'internalized misogyny', it's biology. Women are naturally programmed to compete with each other for the attention of men, just as men are programmed to make themselves stronger, smarter and faster for the attention of women. We do this so we can procreate. The basics of human nature comes down to wanting to survive and pass on our genes. It's a sick, horrible thing to wrap your head around, and I can understand why many choose to overlook this.

No one said nature was kind. But why do we assume that nature 'should' be kind?  

Circle had some shockingly logical moments. Early on, a teenage boy suggested that they let the older people over seventy die first, as they have lived their life and are closer to their deathbed. Of course that sounds horrible, but when you consider which humans are going to be the fittest to survive, it makes sense. The elderly deserve to live as much as anyone in daily life, but in a life-or-death situation, a child or a healthy young woman must take priority over an older person. It sounds awful, but an elderly person is less physically able to continue the line of human succession.

Same goes for the physically disabled. Is it fair? Not at all. Do they have a right to live in normal circumstances? Absolutely. People who are less physically and mentally well would probably be next to go, simply because they are less equipped for survival.

And then, there is societal contribution. Lots of things were talked about; some were awfully ridiculous like whether or not a lesbian with an adopted child had an 'ethical right' to survive (but again, this is classic humans; there's a problem and we still bicker about petty atrocities), but contribution is something to think of. A man who has served in a war, a man who works in a bank, a woman who is a doctor -- these people are apt social contributors. This is the only other argument I would say that counters saving a pregnant woman or a child. Bear Grylls is more useful than a little girl. Again, it sounds awful having to choose, but in the case of human survival, it makes more sense.

For me, those are the only two core factors that should be consider when deciding who to save. Is this person a child, a pregnant woman, or someone who will be helpful in terms of survival?

In the movie, lots of people made the case about having kids and families. But what they missed is that it doesn't matter; when it comes down to it, if nearly all are going to die, then what does it matter about their loved ones? They all have loved ones; one is not special for having children.

And this is the most interesting case of all. They all knew they were doomed.

And yet they fought to live for as long as they possibly could in spite of the fact that they knew they were going to die.

Now, doesn't that sound familiar?

If you watched this movie recently, please let me know your thoughts below.

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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