Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Life on Mars

Really enjoying Life on Mars, the time-travel drama running on BBC TV at the moment. If you haven't seen it, it involves a police officer who gets knocked down by a car, put into a coma and wakes up as a copper in 1973. There is always some ambiguity as to whether he has travelled through time or whether this is his internal thought world during the coma, but it becomes more and more clear it is the latter.

The problem is that back in the present, people are starting to wonder whether to keep the life support running. We only know this because he occasionally hears voices from the present either on the TV, in dreams or by rather odd phone calls. He can hear them; they can't hear him.

I think it raises lots of interesting questions, yet manages to portray them in an amusing way:

1) When is it the right time to switch off life-support? How can we know?

2) It gives an interesting slant on solipsism - the belief that everything is a construct of our own mind. If this 1973 world is Sam's coma, then it is all a product of his imagination. It isn't true solipsism, of course, as Sam has a body of experience of other beings before his coma; the true solipsist wouldn't acknowledge any other beings. However, Sam forms relationships with these other people in his coma world. What lasting value do they have. What would happen to that Sam if he comes round?

3) We have the impression that Sam's recovery depends on him fighting his corner in 1973 - maintaining his values, beliefs and integrity in the face of the sexism, racism and homophobia of that period. It made me wonder if there are parallels for people with belief systems in a secular world. As a Christian do I retain my 'reality' by holding on to my beliefs in the face of an uncomprehending world?

4) You just remember how much the world has changed since 1973. Quite apart from all the 'isms' quoted above, it is just another (and more smoky) world.

The question I have is how on earth can they end it?
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