cinema review: City of Ember

My oldest daughter read this book recently, and could not wait for the film. Unfortunately, it was not promoted much or well according to the review at CT. I brought all 3 children out on a Tuesday evening and enjoyed City of Ember with 9 others spread throughout the theater. I admit, I have a weakness for sci-fi and dystopias. Ember was built during a great catastrophe on the earth. It was built far beneath the earth but only to last 200 years. It's at the end of its planned life that we enter the story. The city's generator is failing, food is running short, and society is degenerating. The mayor is exploiting his power and privilege but a descendant of an earlier mayor has the information left by the "builders" for liberation. The movie is fast paced and directed to a young audience, but I wished for another minute or two when the protagonists reached the surface, at night. The young woman mournfully says, "They were right, it is dark on the surface." The dark is the great terror of Ember's inhabitants. When the generator fails, the lights go out and the citizens freeze in horror. When the protagonist trusted the instructions of the Builders she didn't expect to see more darkness, but she was unaware of the diurnal nature of the surface. All too quickly in the movie, though, dawn comes. And the happy climax arrives.

What a miss on such a poignant moment. Part of my enjoyment of dystopia stories like this one and the Matrix, is the minority opinion that there exists another reality. It's not the unique claim of Christianity, but as a Christian, I see the analogy to my experience. I try to tell people that this world is not all there is. I have friends who feel the instructions from outside our dimension, the Bible, are inadequate. Nevertheless, I assert, it's still true, we just haven't seen the whole story yet. This movie provides a useful analogy to speak to your children about the unseen kingdom we are a part of.


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