Wednesday, 24 June 2015

“Sometimes, one must be scarified for the good of many.” Christological reflections on the Movie 9.

 This was a short essay (800 words) I did for the christology paper, where the task was to basically talk about the christological themes from a Movie.  I did mine on the Tim Breton move 9. enjoy!  

The film 9 is set in a post-apocalyptical world, populated only by nine “creatures”: living doll-like creatures enlivened by the soul of an unnamed scientist, and by “the machine”, which was also created by the scientist, along with the lesser machines, created “in its image,” including “the beast.” The nine creatures are threatened by the existence, first of the Beast, and then of the reawakened Machine, which are searching for the creatures in order acquire the portions of the human soul imbedded in each of them. While the film contains themes from a number of places, including New Age spirituality, twentieth century history and enlightenment philosophy, there are nevertheless clear Christological themes running thought out. Many of the creatures, who are named One through to Nine after the number of their back, carry one or more roles which can be considered Christological.
    The creatures together represent humanity. Their life-force comes from part of the scientist’s soul, which can be seen as being created in the scientist image.[1] However, it can also be seen as a type of incarnation and kenosis. The scientist, who could not have survived the war in his human form, emptied himself of his soul[2] and incarnated it into the creatures to fight the Machine after humanity had been destroyed. We meet the Creatures in their straggle against The Beast[3], where they respond to the crisis in different ways, reflecting the world which Jesus entered. Seven, for example, sees the need for “a fight” and defeat the Beast in combat. This reflects the Zealots of Jesus’ day[4]. On the other side, One is the traditionalist who represent the religious leaders who live by “rules” (the law) and is based in the ruins of an old Church, whereas the enlightened Seven is based in a library.
One therefore represents the Jewish leaders of Jesus day: the Sadducees, Pharisees and Sanhedrin. Furthermore, Nine calls One a “blind man guided by fear,” echoing Jesus, who called the religious leaders of his day blind.[5] Six is the prophetic figure of the group. He continued to insist that they needed to “go back to the source” and his last words before he died told Nine to go back to the room where he woke. Furthermore, he saw that the “dead” creatures somehow lived on inside The Machine, and that they could not defeat the machine by force.  He is therefore a John the Baptist type figure[6].

     In this context, Nine, the hero of the story, can be seen as a messianic figure. At their first meeting, Two says that he had always hoped that another creature would be found. This echoes the hope which the people of Israel had that God would send a Messiah to deliver them for the Romans.[7] His arrival to the group provides a catalyst for them to challenge the conservative leadership of One, reflecting Jesus’ challenge to the the religious establishment of his time[8]. Nine is the one who is “anointed” to guard the object (Talisman), which holds the key to the machine and to their own existence.  Nine finds answers by discovering and reinterpreting the story of the creatures, to understand the role which the scientist anointed him to fulfil.  Jesus likewise identified himself within and reinterpreted the story of Israel around himself. With this understating, Nine is empowered to defeat the machine by going to the root of the problem, and turn it off with the talisman, rather than trying to defeat the machine by force, or by keeping rules to stay safe. Likewise Jesus rejected law keeping and Force to defeat evil but went to the source of the problem of humanity’s broken relationship with God.

    The creatures display a willingness to sacrifice themselves for the good of the others.[9]  While Nine is willing to sacrifice himself to give the others a chance to shut down the Machine, it is One who steps up and does so, saying “sometimes, one must be scarified for the good of the many.”  This is also an example of redemption, having been unwilling to fight before Nine arrives, he is able to redeem himself by giving up his life, and becoming a hero. Ones’ sacrifice was a decoy, in order to distract the Machine and give Nine the change to shut it down.  Yet he also died in the place of Nine, who was going to die himself, and thus his death can be seen as representing a substation theory of atonement, where Jesus died in the place of humanity.[10] This victory over the machine means that the “spirits” of the dead creatures were able to escape from the machine and ascend into the air. While this is not strictly a Christian understanding of life after the death, it nevertheless reflects the fact that it is Jesus’ victory over death which enables eternal life after bodily death[11]. Furthermore, the movie depicts a new creation taking place at the end of the film when it begins to rain and the surviving creatures reflect on the fact that the world is now theirs. Thus the movie understands the victory to result in a renewed Earth, as Jesus, the lamb which was slain[12], will return, and out of his victory to make all things new.[13]


Acker, Shane, (director), Breton, Tim (Producer), Peetler, Pamela (Screenplay), 9, (Relativity Media: 2009)

[1] There is scope to explorer imago dai themes in this movie. Both the creatures and the machines are arguably created in the image of the scientist. The Machine is created out of the scientist “intellect” which he admits is not enough. The machine explicitly creates more machines “it its own image”.
[2] Which meant that he died.
[3] The machine is not re-awakened till later on in the film, when Nine inserts an object called a Talisman into it to wake it up. The Beast is a servant of The Machine who is searching for the talisman in order to re-awaken its master, The Machine, and it the antagonist of the first part of the movie.
[4]  This included Simon, one of the twelve. See Matthew 10:4
[5] Examples include Matthew 15:14, 23:16-26, John 9:39-41.
[6]  Johns’ message to “repent” (Matthew 3:2) could be seen as a call to go back to God, the source of all things.
[7] Luke 24:21
[8] E.g. Matthew 13: 13-39
[9]  Examples include Two is willing to let himself get captured by the Beast in order to save Nine at the beginning of the film and Seven and Twos willingness to rescue Five during the War between Humans and Machines which is shown as a flash back.
[10] Romans 5:8
[11] Christian hope in bodily Resurrection. E.g. 1 Corinthians 15
[12] Revelation 5:6
[13] Revelation 21:5

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