Movies open our minds and connect us to what is real through the power of what isn’t.


Passengers is one such film speaking to me on a symbolic level about real life. I watched it shortly after the election of Donald Trump and I couldn't help but relate the story at the level of metaphor, to the bigger picture of the political disaster progressives see unfolding in America. There is something terribly wrong that broke through our protective political shielding.

The Avalon’s AI super-intelligence is like navigational DNA protecting her crew and passengers from danger. Has our finely tuned election system, as political DNA, protected us from dangers to our Republic? The starship Avalon is a super technologically advanced ship just like the United States is one of the most technologically advanced nations, with capability to finish a voyage into the future and reach our highest potential, leading humanity towards a brighter world where nations begin acting like states within a global country while humility guides us rather than blind egomania and denial of scientific truth.

One of the reasons I loved passengers, is the same reason I love any science fiction imagining a future where humanity is united. In this film, the human race has become an interstellar species, traveling the universe in massive starships, populating and settling exoplanet worlds that support life like Earth. In other words, there is no danger of self destruction like we are living through now with the doomsday clock closer to midnight it has ever been. And the twilight zone like nightmare we are close to living sees religious fanaticism infecting the government of the United States, causing a cascade of malfunctions; a Constitutional crisis to the DNA operating system guiding our journey.

The destination in Passengers is Homestead II in the Bhakti System. What exactly does “Home” represent? It is the place where we belong; when we are lost or moving, it’s the destination of our journey, where we can flourish and reach our highest potential. Bhakti on the other hand is a Hindu word for devotional worship to the supreme deity by whose grace, salvation may be attained by all regardless of circumstances. This sounds a lot like the motto many use in America to express devotion to their supreme deity; and the Constitutional law many believe guarantee protection to “all” seeking the saving grace of the “American Dream,”

Like Asteroid fields in Passengers, America’s history is full with a field of deplorable politicians who have sought the highest office, but most have usually been knocked out as the political shielding prevented disaster.

In Passengers, the vast majority of the crew remain hibernating through a disaster. Jim is one of the exceptions, just like the small number of Republicans who woke up during the Trump disaster. The hope is that they will potentially be able to help fix the damage done, reforming their party, political shielding, and making amends to the Aurora Lane of America, the progressives.

Jim Preston wants to find others who are awake, but little do they know, they’re all sleeping through a catastrophe.

Jim tries to get in to the bridge but all in command are sleeping too. In the same way, the few Republicans who did wake up have tried to stop Trump, but so far have failed because all their other GOP colleagues act as if they are hibernating.

Jim Preston and Aurora Lane’s story are the opposite to one of the most ancient tales about the first love in Genesis. Where as the patriarchal dominated Bible makes Eve the one who commits the original sin, passengers turns the story on its head. It is Jim who at first condemns Aurora to a life of suffering and unfulfilled dreams before winning back her trust and making amends.

It is this conflict of narrative about who to blame, at the heart of the Civil War that has raged between the two sides of the masculine perspective and splintered the feminine for thousands of years. And we see this conflict at the heart of progressive and conservative relations. In our nations past, this conflict found its apex during the American Civil War. In the Confederate Narrative, it is the Union north that caused the war. And in the union narrative, the Confederate south did because of their embrace of slavery.

And the Civil War is universal in most all warring factions. We see it with the North and South Koreans, between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It is always a war over which side wronged the other first or most severely.

Unlike Eve deceiving Adam, in passengers it is Jim Preston who deceives Aurora Lane. When she wakes up, Aurora knows there is something wrong. By waking up before the paradise of homestead two, Aurora Lane and Jim Preston are fated to live out their life on the starship and eventually die, just like every human is fated to live out their lives on starship earth and die. After being born into this world, we feel within our being there is something better. And if only we had stayed in the hibernation of our nonexistence, maybe we wouldn’t be forced to wake up as passengers on spaceship Earth and doomed to live this broken life in a place where many don’t really want to be. If we had hibernated longer, might we have awoken on a better world under better circumstances like Homestead II?

The computers on Avalon are eventually overcome with malfunctions. Arthur smashes his head across the bar as a powerful metaphor for “mind’s frustration” in not being able to figure out what’s broken and how to fix it. In the same way, people are having a similar reaction to Donald Trump. The Trump movement is completely immune to reason or logic. It is about the will to power and your intellectual objections to what is being done is useless.

“I may as well spend the rest of my life here. On a steel world a thousand meters long.” I’m fighting to stay calm all the other passengers asleep for another 90 years while I live out my life on the ship traveling forever, never arriving, my only companion a total stranger.”

This sounds familiar to all who wake up in life and feel they don’t belong and there’s someplace better that we are trying to get to. A lot of people live like this with their lives in hibernation just like passengers of the Avalon. They are sailing through unfavorable conditions in their own life and are waiting to be awoken when the homestead II of better circumstances arrives. (Syria war)

Along with the main points expressed here, Passengers also made me think about my personal battle against Lyme disease. As I approach nearly a quarter century fighting this illness, for some reason the nightmare happening in America mirrors the nightmare happening in my body. Like the Avalon, it feels like a cascade of mission critical failures is about to crash my life to pieces and end my journey on Earth.
Because of this, I’ve been sailing through my days in hibernation, refusing to allow my painful circumstances punish me for something I haven’t been able to control or fix.

The medical community has been no assistance because they are at war and there is nobody on each side, acting in unison with urgency like Jim Preston and Aurora Lane, helping to figure out what is wrong. Things are getting very bleak! I don't know how much longer my immune system can compensate for the baffling breakdown going on inside my body. As of yet, there is nothing that has vented the reactor of my exploding immune system, which feels like a meltdown in progress.

It’s enough to make me feel like smashing my head in frustration and breaking down until someone helps me, because this illness makes about as much sense as the one infecting US.

SYNOPSIS

The science fiction film Passengers follows the character Jim Preston, a 2nd class passenger who wakes up too soon from what is supposed to be a 120 year suspended animation journey on the massive Starship Avalon. Its trip to the colonial planet, Homestead 2, carries a crew of 258 and 5,000 passengers from Earth. 30 years into the journey, after entering an asteroid field, a malfunction activates Jim’s pod; its hologram robot tells him his 120 year mission is complete.

Aside from a robot bartender named Arthur, he discovers he’s the only human awake on the ship. Over the course of a year, Jim fails to find a way to reactivate his pod or get inside the fortified command bridge by waking its hibernating crew. At the same time, small computer malfunctions plague the ship and gradually turning into bigger ones. Jim’s depression and loneliness mount. After narrowly avoiding suicide, he finally decides to wake up Aurora Lane, one of the 5,000 passenger he falls in love with after catching a glimpse of her in hibernation and then subsequently watching all her video logs. Jim struggles with the guilt he feels in contemplating waking Aurora up, but ultimately chooses to do so when he can stand his isolation no more. Once awake, Jim hides and tells Aurora nothing about being the cause of her pod’s malfunction. Jim get’s Arthur to promise not to tell Aurora of his deception because he planned to eventually tell her when he was ready.

After getting to know each other, Jim asks Aurora on a date. Their mutual attraction is made clear; they eventually fall in love and sleep together. Aurora moves into the Vienna Suite that Jim broke into earlier upon Arthur’s recommendation to “live a little.” They are a happy couple enjoying the luxurious life, until one day Arthur mistakes Aurora’s words “there’s no secrets between me and Jim,” as indication she now knows the truth. Arthur then opens up, telling Aurora Jim’s decision to wake her has worked out fine. Finding this out for the first time, Aurora becomes enraged just as Jim approaches her with a ring and plan to propose. She grabs her belongings and moves out of the Vienna Suite, essentially ignoring Jim’s existence on the ship. The hostility between the two continues amidst the backdrop of more and more system failures. Something is very wrong and it’s clearly getting worse.

This drama is interrupted by the presence of Deck Chief Gus Mancuso, who barely escapes after a 2nd pod malfunction. Aurora and Jim tour the ship with Gus as they try to figure out what is broken. Easily entering the command bridge with his wrist ID, Gus discovers from the computer that a mission critical failure is immanent and whatever system was crashing, all others were failing to compensate. The three search the ship to find the problem, but Gus quickly discovers his pod malfunction has also set off a mission critical failure within his own body. The auto-Doc confirms something has horribly gone wrong and he has only hours left to live. Gus gives his wristband to Jim and Aurora along with the access code for the Avalon, asking them to pick up where he must now leave off. Shortly after, he dies.

Now it’s a race for Jim and Aurora as malfunctions around the ship intensify. The two eventually find the problem in the ship’s power plant. The reactor control computer has a hole where a meteor broke through the ships defenses and made it inside. Luckily they find a spare component and replace the computer’s damaged one. After it comes back on line, Jim and Aurora attempt to restart the reactor, venting the fire to put it out. They discover a vent door is jammed and can only be accessed manually from outside the ship.

At Aurora’s protest, Jim decides to suit up and do the job. He brings only a small shield to protect him from the intense heat. With Aurora’s guidance, Jim is able to find it, but because the door won’t stay open on its own, he must remain in the line of fire. The reactor finally vents and the flames are extinguished as systems restart and catastrophe on the Avalon is averted. But unfortunately Jim is blown out of the air lock and blasted into space as his tether snaps.

Narrowly avoiding disintegration from the nuclear fusion engines, Jim propels himself the other direction by heaving his heat shield. Aurora suits up and launches herself in his general direction. But when her tether snaps her back, all seems lost. Luckily Aurora notices Jim’s floating tether is within arm reach and she reels him in to discover he’s unconscious. Inside the ship, Aurora is Barely able to push Jim into the auto-Doc or remember Gus’s access code. The computer declares Jim dead but Aurora initiates emergency resuscitation procedure. When it looks like a failure, he miraculously begins breathing again and is saved. Jim discovers the auto-Doc that revived him, has a hibernation mode capable of putting Aurora back in suspended animation. Trying to redeem himself from his original sin, Jim offers her the option of sleeping for the rest of the journey to Homestead II so she could achieve her dream as a writer. Knowing he would be dead when they arrived, Aurora decides to stay awake because she discovers she still has feelings for Jim. The two live together on the Avalon for the rest of their days, building a “beautiful life together.” At the end of its long journey, the starship arrives at Homestead II and the crew is revived. They enter the main concourse amazed at what they find; the remnants of Jim and Aurora’s life together. Trees, vines and other vegetation tower over them with a cabin and a garden inhabited by animals while operated by robots. It looks like someone is still living here.