Number Three: The Island
Imagine a world where a toxin-infested atmosphere prevents people from living above ground. Where life is systematised to the point when dietary needs are assessed through your urine every morning and a metal barcode bracelet on your wrist tells people if you’ve had a restful sleep the night before. A world where no couples exist, and if members of the opposite sex get too close to each other, they are physically separated because of a proximity infraction.
Welcome to Earth in the year 2019. This is life for Lincoln Six-Echo and Jordan Two-Delta as well as thousands of others; survivors of Earth’s inhospitable terrain. Almost every day new survivors are discovered, brought underground and assimilated into a new, highly regulated lifestyle.
But there is hope. Residents of this underground society are told of The Island, the lone remaining untainted spot on the whole earth where the air and land are clean and the water is sparkling.
Needless to say, every one wants to go to The Island. However, there are only two ways to receive a ticket to this utopia. One is to be selected for gestation, and the other is to enter the lottery. For a woman who is impregnated, both she and her baby are guaranteed passage to The Island soon after the baby is born. Everyone else is entered in the lottery, which varies its number of winners from week to week.
However, all is not as it seems. One day Lincoln Six-Echo gets curious and starts asking questions. Questions with terrible answers. Turns out the underground world is actually a facility that grows clones for people as a sort of insurance policy, a back up system to provide them with tissues, organs or reproductive abilities as needed.
People who have been ‘rescued from the surface’ are actually clones, and ‘winning the lottery’ really means that the person who bought the clone needs their body and the clone is about to be killed. The island is a farce.
It seems the world still has a moral code though, because while the cloning laws state clones can be created, it is under the condition the clone exists in a persistent vegetative state. Obviously the thought of clones who are conscious and indistinguishable from their owners is not appealing to those who want to invest in a such an insurance policy, so the facility keeps the fact that their clones are sentient a secret from everyone.
Lincoln Six-Echo and Jordan Two-Delta escape from their underground world to tell their owners the truth and let everyone know what’s really going on in the facility.
Remarkably, The Island is the only science fiction movie to make my list. There are several transplant analogies to be found in science fiction, from the Trill/Symbiont relationship in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, to the life-sucking Wraith of Stargate Atlantis, to C-3PO volunteering his spare parts for R2-D2’s repair in Star Wars. Indeed, the subject of transplantation and how it works is so complex it can seem like the stuff of science fiction.
I chose The Island simply for the misconceptions it encourages. Organ donation misconception number five: People are killed for the sake of becoming organ donors. In Canada, the practice of offering money in exchange for an organ or killing a person to get their organs is against the law. As I’ve written in other blogs, doctors do all they can to save the life of their patients, regardless of whether or not they could be organ donors.
And organ misconception number six: People become organ donors against their will. In The Island, the scene depicting how unwilling the clones were to become organ donors is graphic and disturbing. Canada’s health care system however, requires people to sign their donor cards if they wish to donate their organs after death. Also, regardless of whether or not a donor card has been signed by the deceased, their family must give their consent as well before any tissue or organs are used.
Transplants are referred to as the gift of life because they are meant to be exactly that, a gift. As medical technology grows and we are able as a society to do things previously considered to be the stuff of science fiction, remembering this fact is now more important than ever.