In this movie, some apocalyptical event happens above ground leading to the construction of an underground city called Ember. (We are not told what the event was but the author - Jeanne DuPrau - has written a prequel explaining why they went underground and a sequel explaining what happens once they escape from Ember to return to the surface.) The “Builders” of the underground city give the first mayor of Ember an instruction box set to open in 200 years to allow them find their way back to the surface. The box was to be passed down to future mayors. Unfortunately, the seventh mayor dies and the box was never given to the next mayor. Some libertarian reviews equate the instruction book to the US Constitution.
It is 200 years later and Ember is crumbling. The electrical generator is failing and consequently there are ever more frequent electrical blackouts. The two heroes are two teenagers – Lina and
Doon’s father and Lina’s father had attempted unsuccessfully to escape Ember;
Very few movies are overtly libertarian and the City of Ember is no exception. Sometimes the best a parent can hope for is a movie that encourages a discussion of liberty in the context of the plot or the actions of the characters. This movie provides that context. Even as the city is crumbling down around them, the mayor tells the citizens of Ember, “We the people stand united against the darkness!” He reassures them, “We don’t just need answers – we need solutions!” Not sure what that means, but it sounds good and the people eat it up. He then creates a task force to study the blackouts.
With the cult-like worship of President Obama last week, this is a good time to watch this movie with your kids and discuss with them how the mayor is able to fool the citizens of Ember with platitudes and good speeches. Instruct them that a politician should not be judged by his inspiring speeches, but by his actions. And how faithfully he follows the guidance from our founding fathers and our governing documents. (see my previous post)
Here is a good professional review.