Robert Zemeckis, Evil Genius
Fri, 27 Feb 1998 14:15:14 -0800 (PST)

There is of course an extraordinary amount of technophobic and mystical
muck churning out of Hollywood and its analogs, and yet I've been thinking
lately that Robert Zemeckis may take the cake as the most conspicuously
anti-extropic film-maker out there these days. You could make a case for
saying "Back to the Future" was reasonably extropic (despite its major
dreck factor) with its whole self-responsibility message, but the latest
three films all strike me as curiously and actually *insistently*
anti-extropian in their themes. In "Death Becomes Her" Zemeckis exposes
a group of immortalists as grotesques, and expresses the theme that death
is a kind of blessing rather than a curse. In "Forrest Gump" he suggests
that simple values are adequate to a misleadingly overcomplicated world
(interesting characters who actually make difficult choices in the face of
real complexities are killed off). In "Contact" he urges that science and
faith are more or less equivalent. Of course, Isabella Rosellini is so
fabulous as an immortalist in "Death Becomes Her" that she nearly steals
the show away from the deathist fest it amounts to, just as Jodie Foster's
Dr. Arroway (sp?) is so luminously moral that the film seems as much an
indictment of mysticism if you squint when you watch it as it is a
eulogy for secularism by apparent intention. It is because Zemeckis
zeroes in on real extropian values and issues before he subverts them that
makes his films seem more dire than the run of the mill technophobia out
there. Thoughts? Best, Dale