I came back to this blog to try and write about Source Code again, having a refreshed perspective after watching the entire “Life On Mars” TV series (US version — haven’t seen the original yet). It got me thinking about the nature of psychology, time travel, alternative realities, dreams…you know, all that good stuff. Let’s face it, a psychiatrist could have a field day with Sam Tyler, from his avoidance of his younger self to his conflicted relationship with his father (and his father), to his rather obvious hero complex. And that’s not even touching on the Mars rover and mechanical bugs he keeps seeing everywhere, the strange anonymous phone calls, etc., etc., etc.
It was the finale of “Life On Mars” that left me with a few…not necessarily questions, just Things To Ponder. I wondered about Sam and Annie in 2009 — did the scene in the television actually happen, or what that more of a dream-within-a-dream? I wondered about Sam and Gene and the true nature of their relationship, wanting now to go back and watch all of the scenes they had together, knowing that it was just another facet of Sam’s demons in his past. I wondered about Annie’s promotion in 1973 — could it have simply been a mirror of her actual professional position, or was there more meaning behind it? Could it have been Gene’s way of acknowledging that Annie was an equal to Sam, and the One who was “good enough” for him?
And then there was the shoe in the final scene. What the hell was that about? It was just weird enough to make me wonder, “well, did THAT just happen?” Could it be that the final scene of the series might not have been reality either?
And that’s what brought me around to Source Code, a movie I promised to review in more depth at “some later date”. I actually had every intention of watching it again before writing a longer post about it, but I find that my memory zooms in on the ending, just like after watching “Life On Mars”. The journey that Stevens/Sean takes during the course of the movie prompts a different set of wonderings; even though the timeline he relives is in the past, he makes his home there and eventually embraces it as his actual home. Sam Tyler himself came very close to this, as well. And even though both of these stories are well-written and nicely sewn-up, I can’t help but ask the same question in either of those cases….
“What happened next?”
I’ve come to realize that my taste in movies and television is more than just a penchant for complex stories. Much like the characters I’m writing about now, I can allow myself to spend a little extra time inside these characters’ stories, asking questions that don’t necessarily NEED answers in order for me to feel satisfied at the stories’ conclusions, but COULD be answered in any number of ways. I can explore abstract concepts in a somewhat more concrete way, by taking an existing (though fictional) situation and extrapolating out from there. It’s like trying to visualize the idea of a million stars, made easier by examining the magnitude of a million pennies. What happened to Sean after Stevens’ body ceased to function? HOW did it happen? Was it his imagination? His soul? A collective experience of souls? Was it purgatory? Heaven?
And does it happen to us?
After watching “Life On Mars” I find myself re-examining the difference between waking and dreaming states, and asking myself — as I do sometimes — are we sure that what we believe is Real…is? And while I’m sure the questions I roll around in my mind would drive some other people absolutely nuts, those questions are the very core of my love of the arts–literature, film, music. Every time I feel myself slipping into one of those “altered states” I have to wonder if maybe I’m finally achieving the true reality. Or maybe I’m just escaping the noise and distractions of our collective reality. Or both.
Suffice to say I won’t be watching the Matrix movies again anytime soon.