Posthumanist panic cinema? The films of Andrew Niccol

Baldwin, Jon (2015) Posthumanist panic cinema? The films of Andrew Niccol. Cinema - Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, 7. pp. 86-106. ISSN 1647-8991


The inauthentic, body manipulation, body enhancement, virtuality, infotainment, commercial colonisation, simulation – this, as the character Taransky suggests, typifies our age. These familiar motifs of the posthuman condition, as well as media surveillance, virtual reality, cloning, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, biometrics, drones, and so on, feature in the popular films of Andrew Niccol.They can be seen to represent and express anxiety around the posthuman condition. Niccol wrote The Truman Show (1998) and was writer and director of Gattaca (1997), S1m0ne (2002), In Time (2011), and Good Kill (2014). A consideration that links these films is a reflection upon posthuman cinema itself. For instance there is the oppressive nature of the posthuman post-cinematic camera as hidden surveillance tool in Truman, the notion of posthuman computer-generated ‘synthespians’ replacing human actors in S1m0ne, and the posthuman post-cinematic camera as precision bomber in Good Kill. In this article I suggest that each of the films under consideration stages a posthuman problem which is subsequently met with a humanist remedy. The films foreground posthuman issues such as media surveillance and simulation (The Truman Show), cloning and genetic engineering (Gattaca), virtual reality and digital media (S1m0ne), biometrics and neoliberalism (In Time), and mediated war and unmanned aerial vehicles (Good Kill). Variants of the humanist solution to these issues include an authentic real, a space beyond mediation, an outside of media ecology (The Truman Show), a human spirit that is not reducible to materiality (Gattaca), an authentic identity, and actual rather than virtual reality (S1m0ne), an innate sense of justice and outside to the flow of neoliberal finance (In Time), and face-to-face rather than screen-to-screen relationality, and a real war in comparison to a virtual war (Good Kill).

7_Baldwin.pdf - Published Version

Download (232kB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

View Item View Item