“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love…and then we return home” -Australian Aboriginal Proverb
Anyone who knows me would say I’m probably the last person they’d expect to give a movie review, considering how rarely I watch movies or TV. But after watching the film Passengers and feeling that it touched me with some profound philosophical messages, I’ve been itching to get out my thoughts about it. (If you’ve seen the film, you can skip down, about halfway, to the arrow)
*Spoiler alert* to summarize the film: The starship Avalon is on a 120-year voyage transporting over 5,000 people to planet “Homestead II” so they can experience life on a planet different from Earth. The people remain asleep in hibernation pods for the whole journey, or at least they’re supposed to. The story begins when the hibernation pod of Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) malfunctions and he wakes up 90 years too early.
90 years!!! What will he do?! Jim naturally freaks out and tries everything he can to fix the problem, but eventually has to accept that he’s stuck on the ship and will die there alone, as he was the only one who woke up…
BUT the loneliness gets to him. Jim notices an attractive passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), peacefully asleep in her hibernation pod. He reads her bio, finds out she’s a writer, and falls in love with her stories before falling in love with her. His desire to be with her is so strong that after telling himself he wouldn’t, he resorts to breaking open her hibernation pod and stranding her on the ship with him.
This is where it gets interesting. Jim doesn’t tell Aurora he opened her pod (for good reason), and they fall in love. Being the only 2 people awake on the ship, they make the most of what they have, and what they have is a lot (gourmet meals, an open bar, a swimming pool with a view of the stars, basketball court, dance room…), while also trying to fix the ship. The ship is designed to have pretty much everything anyone could need for when the passengers wake up just before landing.
–> Moving on to the deeper stuff. The biggest lessons/messages I got out of this film were about love, forgiveness, and most importantly, living in the present.
Love: When Jim and Aurora fall in love, it’s like a fairy tale (besides the impending doom lurking in the background). Aurora writes about how happy she feels with Jim, despite their unfortunate situation. The two do everything together, like you see in a typical romance movie–going on dates, sharing personal stories, having sex–it just happens to all take place in the ship. You see how Aurora transforms from being a fearful, depressed passenger to a blissful woman in love. You even forget at some point, like they do, that they’re stuck in outer space for 90 years. Powerful stuff.
Forgiveness: Of course, sh** hits the metaphorical fan when the innocent robot bartender tells Aurora that Jim opened her pod, it didn’t malfunction. Aurora, naturally, turns into a mad woman and it seems that all the feelings she had for Jim get sucked out the window. She even beats him up while he’s sleeping. But can you blame her? He basically killed her. Aurora’s seeming hatred for Jim is so intense that you start wondering, “Alright, are you gonna forgive him now?” But then you think, “How could she? He killed her!” and you remain upset and angry, and therein lies the lesson of forgiveness. They say that inner peace can only be reached when we practice forgiveness. No matter how difficult it might be to forgive someone, doing so will show you that “the truth of Love is forever present and that by perceiving only Love we can experience happiness” (Love is letting go of fear). As Gerald Jampolsky states, “When we cherish grievances we allow our mind to be fed by fear and we become imprisoned by these distortions.” Aurora clearly cherishes her grievances against Jim, yet forgiving him would bring her nothing but happiness and set her free.
Living in the present: This entire film was a pretty accurate depiction of our human nature, especially in today’s society. We’re always trying to reach something bigger and better, or have something bigger and better, or get somewhere faster or make it through the day or make it to the weekend or make it to retirement–when do we enjoy the present? Jim and Aurora’s situation slaps you in the face with the fact that the present moment is literally all you have. It’s almost like we’re all passengers (see above quote^) trying to get somewhere better than where we are, thinking that it’ll bring us happiness, that we forget to enjoy what we have in the moment. Jim and Aurora have literally everything they could want, which is made clear when they fall in love and time doesn’t seem to exist. Yet, they insist on doing all they can to escape the present and launch themselves 90 years into the future, for that’s when they’ll truly be happy. Why did 5,000 people choose to hibernate for 120 years to go to another planet? Because they weren’t satisfied with their lives on Earth. Only when Jim and Aurora finally accept that they will never get to the new planet and choose to become lovers again do they embrace the beauty around them and even begin growing plants and trees on the ship.