Annihilation – The Unknown of Science and Words on Netflix

Alex Garland’s Annihilation is a film that investigates the mysteries of biodiversity and science in a mysterious Zone X

The fact

Annihilation speaks of an isolated space, in which a space has been created where the canonical rules of science are questioned. It is called “Zone X” and is a mystery to everyone. A group of female scientists are sent to unravel its mysteries…

Annihilation, the poster

The comment

First there was the verb. There was the novel The last resort (1996 but released in Italy by Mondadori the following year) which Danny Boyle directed The beach with Leonardo DiCaprio (2000). The film rose to fame as the production devastated the Thai beaches that served as the location. We go to 2001 and the screenplay, still for Danny Boyle, of 28 days later. A film that criticizes scientific experiment about animals. In 2006, there is the scenario of Sunshine, Danny Boyle’s straight-forward doomsday scenario yet again.

Behind those words, from the novel to the screenplays, there was only one person: Alex Garland. In his writing there is clearly a search for the essence of man. First and foremost scientifically and biologically. It is only in a second time that it transcends into philosophy. With this passage he arrives at the Absolute One of the Neoplatonic myths. Entity from which one must arrive and which self-produces. It is a contemporary end and principle. At least according to the thought of Plotinus (205-270 AD), in contrast to the syllogisms of Aristotle and the embryos of scientific thought.

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For Garland, the One is a woman. For her, it is not only a principle – in the maternal sense of the term – but it is also an end. This was fully demonstrated when he moved from script to directing. With its beginnings Ex-Machina (2015) the protagonist is a female robot, Ava (Alicia Vikander). He gradually acquires his own identity and achieves genuine personal growth. No longer a sterile object of study by its creator (Oscar Isaac) but something more, ready for the world. Abandon a hyper-technological Eden isolated in the woods and accessible only by helicopter.

Even more radical is his second film: Annihilation (2018), loosely based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer and the first track of the Zone X Trilogy The film was released by Netflix in the United States in January 2018. An agreement with the producers Paramount Pictures and Skydance has also provided for its theatrical distribution only in Anglo-Saxon countries. The film arrived here in March of the same year on a platform and, later, also on physical media. Its release has sparked a lot of controversy from fans of the literary trilogy as the film is a stand-alone story that leaves no room for a sequel.

Alex Garland's Annihilation Movie
Natalie Portman in Alex Garland’s Annihilation

In fact, the novel is only a first step. A story in which it is not so much the events that count but the deepest feelings that strike the reader. What is created is total estrangement. It tells about this mysterious Zone X, a constantly expanding territory whose origin is unknown. He is probably extraterrestrial (but we don’t know it) but he creates a real upheaval in the natural environment. The common laws of biodiversity and of science in general are completely overturned and rewritten there. In fact, there is a mushroom-like creature that writes text: long, indefinite, and cryptic.

It is the word that literally becomes flesh and blood. And it keeps changing and becoming more and more indecipherable. A group of women unveil the mysteries of this no man’s land: a psychologist, an anthropologist, a topographer and a biologist. None of them have a name in the story. They are only functions of their specialization. It is Science trying to understand. However, they are flooded with the spores produced by the “words”. What we read is filtered by the biologist who tries to bring order to the chaos that is slowly unfolding before her. What he thinks he sees.

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In the film, the women scientists have a name and not just a function. Like biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) who is recruited to take part in the exploratory mission after others – led by men, mostly military – have failed. Lena joins a group made up of a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a geomorphologist (Tuna Novotny), a physicist (Tessa Thompson) and a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez). The story begins and ends with Lena, the sole survivor, returning from Area X to tell her story. In the area, there is a glow that can rearrange the DNA of any living thing. It implies a biological community among all beings. We go straight from words to actions.

Movie Annihilation Alex Garland
Lena (Natalie Portman) facing the effects of Zone X alone.

An evolving and constantly changing Mother Nature. Like a prism with infinite faces that exchange with each other. Thanks to her, Lena understands the connection not only with her husband, but also of her relationship with human beings. She he studies them by going deeper, by analyzing their cells. They are the principle of existence and its multiple variables. Like the letters of a written text who show us what they want. Or whatever we want.

Annihilation | Movie sheet

  • Original title: Annihilation;
  • Direction: Alex Garland;
  • Subject and scenario: Alex Garland, based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer;
  • Performers: Natalie Portman (Lena), Oscar Isaac (Kane), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dr Ventress), Gina Rodriguez (Anya Thorensen), Tessa Thompson (Josie Radek), Tuna Novotny (Cass Sheppard), Benedict Wong (Lomax), Sonoya Mizuno (Katie), Cosmo Jarvis (soldier);
  • Origin: United States, United Kingdom, 2018;
  • Duration: 115′
  • Themes: CINEMA, BIODIVERSITY
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Annihilation – The Unknown of Science and Wordslatest edition: 2022-01-30T07:24:56+01:00 from Emmanuel Trotto