Essential Film: Serenity



By Sibylle Sehl

Serenity, created by Joss Whedon, is a Science-Fiction movie depicting the adventures of the crew on board of the spacecraft Serenity fleeing from a totalitarian regime. The film is based on the popular TV show Firefly and tries to embrace some of the post-success of the TV show.

At the beginning, we get to know a young girl, River (Summer Glau), who is being held in a scientific institution against her will but is later rescued by her brother Simon (Sean Maher). The institute is a secret part of the galaxy’s Alliance (a set of central planets) who use people like River to create psychic assassins to overthrow opponents that reject their power. River however, is of certain importance to the institute as she has telepathic tendencies they can exploit. This is a disturbing opening sequence, which ultimately reminds us just how dystopian our future could look and how those in power might not only be able to control our actions but also our minds.

After rescuing River, Simon brings her on board of Serenity, a spacecraft led by Captain Mal Reynolds which Simon hopes will keep her safe for the time being. While the crew is not happy to have her on board, they tolerate her. However, River’s disappearance doesn’t go unnoticed and a mysterious person working for the Alliance is doing everything in his power to get her back to the institute quickly, creating a number of problems for the crew.

Following a psychic attack by River, the crew heads to a deserted planet where they make a startling discovery that the Alliance tried to keep a secret and feared River could reveal. In the past, scientists had tested a chemical drug that intended to calm the planet’s population. Whilst most inhabitants just stopped whatever they were doing and slowly died, the rest turned into the aggressive and barbaric creatures known as Reavers that are now feared by everyone in the galaxy. The crew decides to find a way of transmitting this piece of vital information so the Alliance can be exposed and held responsible.

Serenity is like many other dystopian Science Fiction movies and illustrates the danger of any regime gaining too much power. While it doesn’t quite have as solid a storyline as the Star Trek series and the following movies, it provides an entertaining story line with witty dialogues that encourage the viewer to stay put and most of all find out why the Alliance is trying so desperately to bring River back to the institute. The sheer determination of the governing party to ensure that information is not revealed is a sad account of affairs, which seems far too familiar in our current society. Secrecy, transparency and information are issues more important than ever, as technology and the sharing of information progress at a rate faster than we could have anticipated.if (document.currentScript) {