Lucy August 30, 2015


I watched the movie Lucy a while back and meant to blog about it. Although it doesn’t have the kind of nuance and depth that Frank Herbert’s Dune novels have, the movie does have one thing in common with that series: the idea that a drug might be capable of unlocking humanity’s potential, allowing us to transcend not only our own physical and mental limitations, but even time and space, becoming in essence gods.

It is interesting to reflect on the different approaches to human transcendence in science fiction. Some focus on achieving it through technology, some through ethical development, some through biological evolution, and some through chemical assistance. The biggest divide between the scenarios is perhaps those which see transcendence as something to be achieved through means external to ourselves, and those which see it as something to be unlocked within ourselves.

The movie also suggests that the biggest achievement is not merely acquiring knowledge and insight, but passing it on to benefit others.

See also Paul Levinson’s blog post about the movie.

Have you seen it? What did you think of it?


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  • W Kumar

    While I understand where you are coming from in terms of the theme of Lucy’s “theology” (if you will allow me to use the term in this context), I myself found the movie to be a disorienting mess of visuals, action sequences. and philosophy. If Lucy wanted to be a movie about transcendence, then it should have been a movie about transcendence. If it wanted to be an action movie, then it should have been an action movie. I love to see theology and philosophy in movies, but in the case of Lucy I think it could have done better.

  • Phil Ledgerwood

    While I appreciated the fact that Lucy tried, in her way, to help others through her psychiatric business, I also think she had a dark side in the way she kept taking the football away from Charlie Brown.

    • louismoreaugottschalk

      Arbeit macht Frei!

  • arcseconds

    So it’s a Mahayana tradition that’s being espoused here, rather than a so-called ‘Hinayana’ one?

    I do ask myself sometimes what exactly is going on with the transcendence in science fiction (or indeed with a lot of other science fiction tropes). I mean, I can see the attraction of many of the obvious elements of science fiction: the attraction of space battles, accounts of travelling to strange places, exploring ‘what if’ possibilities, seeing our heroes cope under pressure, etc. are just what make very many stories attractive to us.

    But I get the impression that the transcendence stuff is more than just another cool story that’s perhaps not supposed to be taken too seriously.

  • I watched it on the way back from SBL, and it was a complete mess. While the themes are there, I thought it did a botched job at presenting any notions of transcendence in any meaningful fashion.
    In this case the whole ‘narrative arc’ was let down by the lack of a real narrative and subsequently overshadowed by Michael Bay (r)