• Amy Burvall

Poetry, Music, Sunrise, and Puppies: What Equilibrium Tells Us About Being Human #edcmooc

When thinking of what it means to be “human”, I keep coming back to the 2002 Christian (love him!) Bale film “Equilibrium”, a dystopian look at the future where emotions are suppressed with drugs, and anything emotive (art, music, literature,etc.) is destroyed. Why? Because emotions can lead to very negative by-products, like civil disobedience and war. People are convicted as “sense offenders” (nice play on words!). Christian is part of the law enforcement until his wife is arrested and killed.

Here’s the Trailer for an overview:


I wondered if we could boil down “humanity” to our sensual perception of the arts (music, poetry, etc.) and the nuances of our aesthetics (like being overwhelmed at a sunset), or the inexplicable heart melt syndrome of interacting with puppies. Here are some scenes that illustrate my point.

His partner goes to the other side (the resistance) after falling in love with Yeats (funny it’s the same passage Sir Ken Robinson uses in his TED talk)


This is my favorite scene, particularly because I feel music is the most powerful force binding humanity. Bale is in a resistance hold-out chock full of emotive paraphernalia when he comes across a phonograph and Beethoven record.


OMG! The sun! It’s, like, so amazing! (this scene reminds me of my favorite Dr. Zhivago scene where Lara is leaving for good and Zhivago is grasping at the window pane to see her in the distance until he finally smashes it)


And then we come to the puppies. Bale is not supposed to feel. But since he stopped taking his drug he lets this puppy get to him. As humans, it’s the universal cave-in – who doesn’t like a puppy?!


What do YOU think? Are there other essential qualities that define us as humans, or do you think emotions and aesthetics trump all?

#humanity #edcmooc #humanismhumans #Beethoven #Equilibrium #emotions #film

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