Review by Elliott
Father: Prozium – The great nepenthe. Opiate of our masses. Glue of our great society. Salve and salvation, it has delivered us from pathos, from sorrow, the deepest chasms of melancholy and hate. With it, we anesthetize grief, annihilate jealousy, obliterate rage. Those sister impulses towards joy, love, and elation are anesthetized in stride, we accept as fair sacrifice. For we embrace Prozium in its unifying fullness and all that it has done to make us great.
It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a truly nerdy movie. So this week, I’ve decided to review one that many people haven’t seen or even heard of. It came out in 2002 and was directed by Kurt Wimmer. I’ve often compared it to The Matrix, which in some ways is true, but in other ways it’s not. What they do have in common is the action/filming style, as well as the post apocalyptic setting. There are a few other small similarities, but overall they are much different movies. Taking place sometime in the near future, Equilibrium is about a society that is controlled by a totalitarian/fascist government, who has outlawed all emotion.
- Christian Bale as John Preston
- Sean Bean as Partridge
- William Fichtner as Jurgen
- Taye Diggs as Brandt
- Dominic Purcell as Seamus
- Despite popular belief, absolutely no wires were used in the film at all. All of the gravity-defying stunts were done through conventional means. For example, the backflip off of the motorcycle was done with a trampoline.
- Daniel Radcliffe auditioned for the part of John Preston’s son.
- The film was not given a wide release because it had already run into profit as a result of overseas sales, and Miramax didn’t want to risk turning a money maker into a loss.
- Tetragrammaton (translation: “word with four letters”), is actually a word used in Judaism in reference to the name of God. “YHWH”.
- Originally, the drug Prozium was named Librium (hence the term “People of Libria” as often referred to throughout the film). However, Librium turns out to be a registered trade name for the anti-anxiety drug chlordiazepoxide. The name was quickly changed to Prozium, a sly combination of Prozac, and Valium, which both have calming effects.
In the future, at the conclusion of a 3rd World War, a man called “The Father” takes control of what remains. His goal is to set up a new society free of conflict. He believes that the source of conflict is emotion. So a new drug is invented called Prozium, which eliminates all emotion. The new government, known as the Tetragrammaton, requires all citizens to take regular injections of Prozium and bans all forms of art, literature, music; anything that they believe contains emotional content. In order to enforce unity and conformity, The Father uses the Grammaton Clerics, who are highly trained in the martial art of Gun Kata.
The movie follows John Preston(Christian Bale), the Grammatons highest ranked Cleric. He is now a widower, due to his wife being executed for being a “sense offender”. Her death, left him to take care of their two children Robbie and Lisa. At the beginning of the movie we witness a raid on “The Underground”, a resistance group that is fighting the Tetragrammaton. During the raid, John’s partner Partridge(Sean Bean) takes a book of poems by Yeats and claims that he is personally taking it to be destroyed. However, John soon discovers that the book was not turned in and that in fact his partner has given to experiencing emotion. Partridge speaks to John about emotion and at the end of their conversation forces John to help him commit suicide by cop. Just after this, John breaks the vial of his morning dose Prozium and begins to experience emotion himself.
From this point on, he stops taking it, but tries to keep up the facade that he is still taking it and not experiencing any emotion. Several events occur, that make it extremely difficult for him to not show any emotion and his colleagues begin to suspect that something is wrong. John begins to help the resistance and determines that the only way to stop the Tetragrammaton is to cut off supply of the Prozium to the citizens. The rest of the movie follows the resistance and John as they attempt to do overthrow the government.
So the main premise of this movie is that emotion is dangerous and bad, so we shouldn’t feel or display any sort of emotion. I definitely agree with the first part of that statement, emotion is dangerous, well it can be dangerous. Emotion really has two sides to it. On one side we have joy, happiness, laughter, sympathy, sorrow, and so on. On the other side we have anger, fear, bitterness, hatred, envy, and jealousy, just to name a few. So the question is: What do we do with all of this emotion? The quick answer is, we need to control it. “The Father’s solution to control emotion, is to give everyone a drug that will just eliminate it. Eliminating our emotion is not the right answer, each of us need to learn the self discipline to control our own emotions. The bible has quite a bit to say on those lacking self control and the importance of controlling our heart, mouth, and mind. Although, his conclusion was wrong, “The Father” was definitely on the right track as far as the importance of controlling emotion.
Here’s some passages from the bible that talk about controlling our emotions:
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,21 envy,[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,[a] and set on fire by hell.[b] 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,[c] these things ought not to be so.
As I was typing this up, it occurred to be how cheesy and hoky, this story must sound to anyone reading this. It’s not the case, really it isn’t… 🙂 I’ve introduced this flick to numerous people and no one has ever disliked it and most thought it was pretty good. I of course love it. It has some of my favorite elements, such as, a utopia, sinister government, and gun-kung-fu… well maybe not the last one. But I like how the movie gets you to think about the importance of emotion, but also the danger in it. As for the quality of the movie, it isn’t quite as polished as you would expect now a days. But for the time it looked pretty good. The acting was good, but not great. John’s son…talk about a creepy kid, if you’ve seen it you know what I mean. If you like action movies and have never seen this then I would recommend you see it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.