Love, Sex, Sacrifice, and Salvation: A Critical Analysis of Sci-Fi Filmography

The Enlightenment mythology usually goes something like this: Humans had been wallowing in darkness and superstition for a long time, then, sometime in the seventeenth century, a few heroic philosophers and proto-scientists broke the chains of religion and freed humanity from the darkness and superstition that had ensnared them since Neolithic times and the more we follow these denizens of “enlightenment” the further we move away from enslavement by superstition, prejudice, and religion. If this narrative were true one would expect the ultimate modernist genre, science fiction, to be free from those dark and primordial prejudices that have supposedly enslaved humanity for much of its existence. However, a close examination of some of the most successful and iconic science fiction films reveals a deeply implanted religious psychology and theo-cosmic foundation to them—namely, the centrality of sacrifice and the role of love in human salvation which stand as a repudiation of the modernist narrative…

Drawing on critical theory, sacrificial theology, Rene Girard, Friedrich Schelling, and more, I deconstruct and analyze seven decades of science-fiction filmography and argue that contemporary sci-fi films have become the new medium to express our religious psychological impulses and desires. Films included in the analysis are: The Day the Earth Stood Still; Godzilla; Star Wars; Terminator; Independence Day; Deep Impact; Armageddon; Interstellar; Ad Astra. It builds off of and expands on the themes I have written about in this essay: Hal Unplugged: Fear, Terror & Salvation in Science Fiction (which examined 2001: A Space Odyssey; Star Wars; Armageddon; Avatar; Interstellar).

You can read the full, 12,000 word, essay here: Love and Sacrificial Salvation: The Hidden Theology of Science Fiction Filmography. It was published at VoegelinView, 23 April 2020.

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