National Catholic Register


Sci-Fi Advent

BY Tom Hoopes

| Posted 11/30/08 at 11:40 AM


Russell Saltzman at First Things’ blog is looking forward to The Day the Earth Stood Still.

He suspects he can guess the theme of the remake of the B classic, though: “A emissary from the galactic federation is coming to warn Earth about its bad environmental habits.”

“This is the way a lot of ‘alien as messiah’ films go,” he writes, “and the 1951 version had more than its share of religious stuff. There was Klaatu’s reference to ‘the Almighty Spirit,’ plus that climatic Lazarus-like resurrection. There was, however, nothing miraculous to be found. It was due to a medical science far beyond our capacity to understand. In these alien–savior films, everything is beyond our capacity to understand.”

Salzman, a Lutheran pastor mentions two 1980s religious sci-fi movies.

E.T. (1982) “we have both a resurrection (cheers were said to be heard in theatres) and an ascension, awe-struck humans looking upward at their departing friend.”

In Starman (1984) Jeff Bridges is an alien visitor who “impregnates an Earth woman and promises that her Child will be a Teacher ... There was even a short-lived television series based on the product of that union. Starman, by the way, resurrects a deer killed by a redneck hunter—so, take that you awful NRA people!”

“We want to believe there’s Somebody Out There, somebody wiser, stronger, smarter, kinder than ourselves,” he writes. “Surely, in this vast, incomprehensible cosmos there must be other beings selflessly prepared to snatch us out of our troubles. You can hope so.”

Indeed we do hope, this Advent ... and wait.

Read the whole thing.

— Tom Hoopes