Monday, September 30, 2002

Movie Dharma Review : eXistenZ (

The time is now 4.20am- I just finished watching the show on my notebook. I scribbled down some interesting conversation from the movie. Thought of writing this before bed. (Don't feel like sleeping because I disappointed a friend badly. Guilt trip to the movies at home. Am sending this review to her- though she told me more than once she hates the word "existential"- which appears here a few times!)

"Set in the near-future, eXistenZ depicts a society in which game designers are worshipped as superstars and players can organically enter inside the games. At the centre of the story is Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) whose latest games system eXistenZ taps so deeply into its users' fears and desires that it blurs the boundaries between reality and escapism." -From the back VCD sleeve. (eXistenZ won the Berlin Silver Bear Prize in 1999)

"eXistenZ" is a movie that screened shortly after "The Matrix". There are some parellel themes on the questioning of what is illusion and what is (virtual) reality. Here are some quotes which relate to this samsaric eXistenZ of ours. The dialogue that I find interesting happens to be very existential in nature.

Allegra: You have to play the game to find out why you're playing the game.
Zeph comments: Now that's a lot like life; that's life-like! Life is essentially meaningless- till a/the meaning is found.

Dasinator (Is that how it's spelt?): Who sent you?
Ted Pikul (Jude Law): It doesn't matter who sent us. We're here- that's all that matters.
Zeph comments: Thus the Buddha tells us not to hanker on the past (lives).

Allegra: Don't panic- it's just a game.
Zeph comments: Don't panic- life is just a game; an illusion too, of sorts.

Pikul (on speaking unlike his usual self in the game): That wasn't me- that was my game character.
Zeph comments: That wasn't me- that was my pre-programmed alter ego- my past karmic habitual forces reacting by default! Lame excuse!

Pikul (about the game environment): Everything is so dirty, absurd, grotesque!
Zeph comments: Pure mind; pureland. Even a game world is samsara as long as we are samsaric.

Pikul (about the game storyline): I think there is an element of psychosis involved here!
Allegra: Yes- that's a great sign.
Zeph comments: Congrats to waking up to the first noble truth!

Allegra (on ejecting from the game): So how does it feel? Your real life that you came back to?
Pikul: It feels completely unreal... I'm not sure. I'm not sure here at all. This feels like a game to me.
Zeph comments: Like Zhuangzi's story of waking up after dreaming he was a butterfly, after which he said he doesn't know whether he is now a butterfly dreaming it's a man!

Pikul: I don't want to be here!
Allegra: Come on Pikul! You've just got a bad case of first-time user anxiety.
Pikul: I don't like it here. I don't know what's going on. We're both stumbling around together in this unformed world with its rules and objectives largely unknown, seemingly inexplicable or possibly non-existent. We're always on the verge of being killed by forces we don't understand.
Allegra: Sounds like my game alright!
Pikul: If it's a game, it isn't going to be easy to market!
Allegra: But it is a game everybody's playing already.
Zeph comments: Existential blues for Pikul- feeling like a new-(re)born babe in the game which is still Samsara! Samsara is a game that doesn't need much hard marketing- we are all fools for it- playing it this very moment!

Security Guard (about to be shot by Pikul at end of movie): Tell me the truth- are we still in the game?
Zeph comments: Yes we are! To win this game, realize non-self and exit from life and death. This last liner from the movie set Pikul and Allegra frowning. I remember leaving the theatre after watching The Matrix wondering if I am in the Matrix too. I shrugged the question away. But of course I am in it! The Matrix, of... no prizes for getting it right... Samsara! reply

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