Saturday 12 December 2015

Dark Pondering - A Circle of Jerks?

Dark Pondering - A Circle of Jerks? 

Written By Casey Douglass

Circle film Image © Copyright FilmBuff

I watched a film on Netflix yesterday. It was called Circle and starred a fair few people I recognised from other things, but could never tell you their names without Google’s help. The setup of the film is that a group of people regain consciousness while standing in a circle. I hope that didn’t shock you, it did come at you from nowhere right? Long story short, they have to vote to see who gets killed by a strange energy beam next. I quite enjoyed the film, it was interesting to see how people began to bicker and argue, especially when under stress. There are some spoilerish things below so if you decide you want to watch the film, you might like to do that first and read the rest of this post another day. I try not to give everything away though.

It is interesting to see how people try to judge the worth of another’s life. The people in the film worked their way through many aspects of life: age, career, marital status, the existence of family or not, skin colour, sexual persuasion and religion to name but a few. On reading, that certainly makes them sound like an utter bunch of wankers, but on the other hand, how do you judge the worth of someone? It seems the only rational answer is simply not to judge, that every life has worth. That wouldn’t make much of a film I’m sure, and it rarely happens in real life, which is very sad. The people in the film were put in a situation that seemed to point them towards having to choose, but even that didn't mean they had to vote for someone else’s death.

Some of the people refuse to kill others by voting, and there are others who sacrifice themselves instead. The assembled group also splits into factions consisting of those who feel everyone is equal, and those who feel a young girl and a pregnant woman had the most right to survive. There is even an endgame in play but I won’t give away any more spoilers here.

I think I clicked with the film as worth is something I have always struggled to see in myself. On the other hand, I know I am guilty of judging others just as harshly at times too. I think it comes from the old habit of the human mind, that of wanting to compare things: what we have and what we don't have, what we do and what they do. Used sensibly, it can give us information about how to right injustice, highlight areas of our lives we need to work on, and things like that. Used wrongly, it can inspire hate, greed, alienation and low self-esteem. One theme of the film was the occasional agreement between some of the people, who did agree that the uniting thing amongst them all was that everyone wanted to live. The sad thing is that many felt that this justified any behaviour that helped toward that end. You’ll be shocked to hear that the concern for others’ well-being only extended so far as the person expressing the concern was safe themselves, with the odd exception.

We all need a strong survival instinct. If we didn’t have it, the human race would probably have died out millennia ago. On the other hand, humans need more than survival, or what's the point? If we devolve into angry primates when the chips are down, we are undoing any sense of progress or advancement we might have achieved as we have evolved. After all, if we take the big picture view, every person alive at this moment in time has been a fantastic product of survival. Surely that makes us all equally worthy to be alive right now? Our jobs, hobbies, social circle or lack thereof don’t mean we have any less right to be here. On the other hand, it is this same survival instinct that means, in a 1-on-1 life or death situation with another, we are quite naturally inclined to side with the continuation of our own existence.

It’s certainly a tough one. I applaud Circle for giving people something to think about.