Sunday, January 25, 2009

City of Ember out on DVD

My family and I were on vacation when City of Ember came out in theaters in October. I didn’t know anything about the movie (or the book), but I am a big fan of Walden Media adaptations of children’s books so I knew it would be different than the usual Beverly Hills Chihuahua-type movie. While I didn’t write a review of the movie at the time, a few other libertarian bloggers did. Some went as far as declaring it a libertarian movie. While I wouldn’t go that far, I do recommend you make your way to the closest Red Box and rent it.

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. In Ember, when children are old enough to work (I am guessing at age 15) they pick a job title out of a hat and that is the job they must work for the rest of their lives. Doon is the son of an inventor and wants to work on the generator. Unfortunately, he draws "messager" and Lina draws "pipeworker." They are able to trade jobs, however.

Doon’s father and Lina’s father had attempted unsuccessfully to escape Ember; Lina’s father was killed trying. Doon’s father tells his son, “If you have the truth then you must pursue it.” It turns out that Lina’s great great grandfather was the seventh mayor and she finds the box. She takes it to the mayor (superbly played by Bill Murray) but discovers he is corrupt and is stealing food from the nearly empty storage rooms. So Lina and Doon must find a way to escape without the Mayor’s help.

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.

1 comment:

Rick L. Tra said...

Well said and I'm on the same page as you.