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Jordan Best's Media Criticism Paper



A lengthy thesis paper discovering the hidden themes behind films. Here I use the cluster criticism methodology on the film "Sunshine" to argue that the filmmakers unknowingly and unconsciously added ...

A lengthy thesis paper discovering the hidden themes behind films. Here I use the cluster criticism methodology on the film "Sunshine" to argue that the filmmakers unknowingly and unconsciously added their own personal beliefs to the film through imagery.



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Jordan Best's Media Criticism Paper Jordan Best's Media Criticism Paper Document Transcript

  • ABSTRACT In this paper, the cluster criticism methodology is used to analyze the 2007 film,Sunshine directed by Danny Boyle. The film has various key terms that are found in the formof visual and narrative elements, including “light,” “darkness,” “eyes,” “hot and cold,”“rejuvenation,” and “the comparison between big and small. These are discussed along withtheir surrounding cluster terms in the application. Also, a history and summary of the moviealong with an overview of the cluster criticism methodology are discussed. The author uncovers many interesting aspects about the visual and narrative elementsof the film. In analyzing specific key terms and their surrounding clusters, found in the movieby their frequency and intensity, the author argues that the filmmakers unknowingly andunconsciously added their own personal beliefs to the film. In the process of arguing thesepoint, the author discusses the artifact—Sunshine—in detail by giving an intricate account ofits inception, filmmakers, summary, and reception. Next, the author scrutinizes clustercriticism in terms of background, definitions, procedures, and criticisms. Then themethodology can be applied to the film with the purpose of discovering the worldviews of thefilmmakers through the implicit and explicit terms found throughout the movie. Furthermore, the author uses interviews with the filmmakers themselves in order toshow how the messages in the film either correspond or contradict with their personal beliefs.An analysis of this movie aids the field of communications by providing an example of howthe cluster analysis can be used to give insight to the subliminal messages in rhetoricalartifacts. i
  • 1 INTRODUCTION The world of cinema is phenomenon that continues to grow throughout the entireworld, a phenomenon that does not show any signs of abating. In 2009, over 1.4 billion ticketswere sold throughout the United States and Canada alone, coinciding with the over 500 filmsreleased in theaters.1 With the ubiquitous presence of film and cinema everywhere a persontravels—from the comfort of their homes to the portable devices in cars to the televisions onthe back of airplane seats—it is hard to image that movies would not have an impact on theaudiences which they capture. While most audiences see films for the cinematic experience,many do not realize the prominence of messages and themes found in virtually every movie.While many of these themes might be evident and reflect some basic human necessity—suchas safety, love, justice, or survival—there are often messages which underlie the movie, eventhough they might not be perceptible to the viewers. In this same sense, while the audiencemay not realize a worldview or ideology in a film, the filmmakers themselves might beunaware of certain underpinnings that subconsciously make their way into the stories and filmsthey make. In order to show how hidden messages make their way into certain artistic expressions,and more specifically to the paper, how these messages can be found in film, a rhetoricalcriticism can be used. While an ideological or metaphorical criticism approach might bebeneficial to discover what the filmmakers were expressing in a more explicit sense, a clustercriticism approach is necessary to uncovering messages behind the film the creators wereimplicitly—and even against their own knowledge—conveying. With the use of cluster 1 Motion Picture Association of America, 2009 Theatrical Market Statistics (Sherman Oaks, CA: MotionPicture Association of America, 2009). 1.42 billion admissions were sold to United States and Canadian audiencesin 2009, a 5.5% increase from the erstwhile year (p. 6). The number of films produced by United Statesproduction companies declined by 5.4% since 2008, arriving at 677 films produced. Meanwhile, only 558 filmswere actually released in theaters, an 11.8% decline from 2008 but a 10.1% increase from 2005 (p. 11). 1
  • 2criticism I will use key terms and their surrounding cluster terms in order to gain anunderstanding of the themes and possible worldviews of the writer and director of Sunshine,even if the filmmakers are unaware of the messages the film contains.2 Using this artifact will provide a beneficial analysis to rhetorical critics to observe howcluster criticism can be used to uncover hidden messages in a film. Because Sunshine is arecent film, there are a myriad of articles and interviews which can be found on the filmmakersthemselves discussing their thought processes during the making of this film, interviews whichmight not exist if one were analyzing an older motion picture with older—or even deceased—filmmakers. Moreover, in addition the analyzing the narrative elements throughout the movie,there are numerous visual elements which will also be looked at, an aspect which has garneredthe film much praise. For example, Wesley Morris, a top critic of the film reviews aggregatorwebsite Rotten Tomatoes, says that there are beautiful physical touches [in Sunshine] … and the production design itself is astounding. Unlike the way that the effects and art direction suffocated everything in George Lucas’s last three “Star Wars” movies, the sets and effects in Boyle’s movie are breathtakingly persuasive. You’re not watching a toy drift through space. You’re watching the future.3Using both the narrative elements of the story and the visual elements, key cluster terms will befound along with their surrounding cluster terms, and together the rhetorical critic can analyzethese things to find the implications of messages behind the movie. Solving the related questions that may arise from this analysis will be another facetpertinent to this paper. The most important question the paper will aim to answer is what does 2 Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Cillian Murphy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong,and Michelle Yeoh, Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle (Beverly Hills, CA: Twentieth Century Fox,2007). 3 Wesley Morris, “Filmmaker Explores Space with a Burning Intensity in ‘Sunshine’,” Boston Globe,July 20, 2007, http://www.boston.com/movies/display?display=movie&id=8741 (accessed June 2, 2010).
  • 3a cluster analysis of the film reveal about the hidden messages behind the film? Moreover,what does the analysis reveal about the filmmakers themselves? How explicit or implicit arethe messages, and how aware were the filmmakers that their movie contains these messages?Were they indeed trying to get their personal ideas across through this movie, or did theybelieve they were creating the film for a purely cinematic experience? Looking at interviewswith the filmmakers found online, the question begs to be asked: is the movie revealingsomething about the filmmakers they do not realize themselves? To answer these questions, the critic must not only look at the application itself, butmust also understand the artifact and the methodology in detail to realize how the applicationworks. Thus, the paper will first focus elements of the film such as its history, filmmakers,financial box office success, and reviews from the critics. Furthermore, it will provide asummary of the film itself so the readers can understand the story and characters even if theyhave not seen the movie. Following the artifact the paper will examine the cluster criticismmethodology, spotlighting the crucial aspects of this methodology such as its history, theories,criticisms, and the step-by-step method of utilizing the methodology. Segueing into the nextsection using both the artifact and methodology, the paper will look at how these can becombined to analyze the Sunshine film, focusing on the key cluster terms and visualcomponents along with the surrounding supporting elements to reveal the hidden messagesbehind the film. And so, to begin, the artifact’s background will be examined to see how thefilm was initially conceived.
  • 4 ARTIFACT Inspiration and History of Sunshine Alas, the criticism process cannot begin without the background history of Sunshine.The script began when Alex Garland was inspired “to write Sunshine . . . [based on] scientificideas about what is called the “heat death” of a universe.”4 More specifically, Garland got theseideas from “‘an article projecting the future of mankind from a physics-based, atheistperspective’.”5 The article was from an American scientific journal, and Garland waswondering what would happen if the sun were to die, and “what would actually happen when iteventually did. What interested me was the idea that it could get to a point when the entireplanet’s survival rests on the shoulders of one man, and what that would do to his head.”6Garland wrote an initial spec script and brought it to director Danny Boyle, who had “alwayswanted to do a space movie” and thought that a movie about the sun would be “an amazingpremise for the film.”7 The film was financed through 20th Century Fox’s specializedindependent film unit Fox Searchlight Pictures, along with other sources such as tax rebatesand the United Kingdom Film Council. The film’s total production time was much longer than typical films, spanningapproximately three years since its initial conception until Boyle had a completed project. Pre- 4 Roger Highfield, “How to Make Science Really Shine,” Telegraph, March 13, 2010,http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3352013/How-to-make-science-really-shine.html (accessedJune 2, 2010). 5 Mark Kermode, “2007: A Scorching New Space Odyssey,” The Observer, March 25, 2007,http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2007/mar/25/sciencefictionspecial.features (accessed May 19, 2010). 6 Kevin Bourke, “Flying Into the Sun,” Manchester Evening News, March 27, 2007,http://menmedia.co.uk/tv_and_showbiz/s/1002963_flying_into_the_sun (accessed June 2, 2010). 7 Patrick Kolan, “Interview: Danny Boyle,” IGN, March 14, 2007,http://movies.ign.com/articles/772/772907p1.html (accessed June 2, 2010).
  • 5production8 alone lasted about two years, with Boyle and Garland working on the script for ayear before planning pre-production work for another year. The crew spent three monthsshooting for the production stage, and then spent another year in post-production, editing thefilm and waiting for the computer generated imagery to be complete.9 The total budget of thefilm after it was completed was about £20 million, or $40 million, with the majority of themoney spent on special effects.10 Seeing how the story and the visual elements were taken intogreat consideration while making the film, in the next section the reader will get anunderstanding of the story and how other elements play out through the narrative. Sunshine Film Synopsis The film opens with a blinding view of the sun, and in a voiceover, physicist RobertCapa explains the current pandemic the world is facing: Earth is slowly freezing over becausethe sun is dying. In an effort to reignite the sun, a mission dubbed the Icarus project sent aspaceship seven years ago to detonate a stellar bomb the size of Manhattan Island within thesun, a payload large enough to restart the dying star. Unfortunately, the Icarus I spaceshipnever reached the sun, so another spaceship—the Icarus II—was sent sixteen months ago witha crew of eight astronauts and scientists. The film is set in a contemporary setting in order thataudiences can still relate to it, although the story is set in the year 2057.11 8 Pre-production here signifies the planning stages of the film, or the time spent working on the moviebefore the cameras start shooting. 9 Eric Alt, “Danny Boyle Basks in the ‘Sunshine’,” Premiere Online, July 12, 2007,http://www.premiere.com/Feature/Danny-Boyle-Basks-in-the-Sunshine (accessed June 2, 2010). 10 Randee Dawn, “Handmade VFX Warms Boyle’s ‘Sunshine’ Pic,” Hollywood Reporter, July 19, 2007,http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/features/columns/film_reporter/e3i196c2593a031ddd0cf28807192ed8afd (accessed June 2, 2010). 11 In order to give the film a contemporary feel, Danny Boyle used a rule called the Red Bus Rule toexplain that fifty years ago in London there were red buses, and still fifty years later, even though they may havechanged form and technology, people still recognize the red buses and what they stand for. “We thought . . . 50
  • 6 Taking place solely inside and outside of the spacecraft Icarus II, Sunshine continueswith the crew eating a meal and discussing the current status of their mission. As their travelstake them over fifty-five million miles away from Earth at a speed of over 29,000 kilometersan hour, communications officer Harvey informs the crew they only have a limited amount oftime to send messages back to their families before communication with Earth will cut off.Corazon, the ship’s botanist, says they have more than enough oxygen to complete theirmission as well as have some on reserve for their return journey. A garden on board the shipmakes it possible for the crew to recycle oxygen, and a water filtration system allows them tohave a continually renewable water supply. As the Icarus II passes by Mercury, the iron content on the planet acts as an antenna toreflect a mysterious signal back at them—a signal Harvey recognizes as the distress beacon ofthe Icarus I, which almost made it to the sun. Trey, the navigator, posits that he can change theIcarus II’s trajectory to the sun so they can pass by the Icarus I. Mace, the ship’s engineer,opines that they should not stray off the course of their mission, but Searle, the ship’spsychologist, says that if they can get aboard the Icarus I and get the payload to function, theywould have two bombs—or two chances—at reigniting the sun. Kaneda, the captain, leaves thedecision up to Capa, who ultimately agrees that having two payloads is better than having one,albeit the majority of the crew believes that they should not rendezvous with the other ship.Nonetheless, the Icarus II deviates from their original course, setting off a chain of problems. An alarm goes off in the middle of the night, and the crew regroups in the cockpit tolearn that when Trey was reconfiguring their trajectory, he neglected to change the angle of theyears in the future . . . the technology will still be recognizable. There will still be screens and buttons and there’llbe a feel of familiarity. It’s more NASA than Star Wars. It’s not outrageous creatures or things like that – it’s stillwithin our world, within our possibility to touch,” from Patrick Kolan, “Interview: Danny Boyle,” IGN, March 14,2007.
  • 7ship’s heat shield. This sends him into a fit of guilt-fueled depression as the crew learns theyhave to go out to assess the actual damage to the shield, which faces the dangerous rays of thesun. So the ship’s pilot, Cassie, manually rotates the shield away from the sun to give Capa andKaneda room to repair the ship, who then don spacesuits and exit the Icarus II. However, inrotating the ship, the two communications towers are destroyed, and a fire is accidentallyignited in the garden, threatening their oxygen supply and their lives. Icarus II thenautomatically realigns itself, but in doing so Kaneda is engulfed by the rays of the sun whileCapa barely makes it to safety. With the captain dead, the garden destroyed, and their oxygen levels dangerously low,the crew decides they have no choice but to board the Icarus I. They are able to dock the twoships together, and Capa, Mace, Harvey, and Searle board the Icarus I, with an interior coveredin dust. They find the ship still has a garden, running water, and working bomb. However,Mace finds that the computers have been sabotaged and that the crew of the Icarus I abandonedtheir mission at the behest of the captain, Pinbacker, who left a cryptic message on board theship.12 Searle finds the remains of the Icarus I crew in the observation room, incinerated by thesun. Suddenly, a giant shockwave shakes the ship, and the crew rushes back to the airlock tosee that the Icarus II has decoupled from the Icarus I, tearing apart the locking system andallowing no way for the two ships to dock again. The four men on the Icarus I find onespacesuit which can be used to shuttle back to the Icarus II, giving it to Capa to ensure hissafety since he is the only one able to work the payload necessary to completing their mission.Unable to open the hatch from the airlock, Searle is forced to stay behind to manually open theairlock door, while Mace and Harvey wrap themselves in insulation and latch onto Capa. When 12 Pinbacker leaves a video message saying “When He chooses for us to die, it is not our place tochallenge God.” In Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:53:48.
  • 8the airlock opens, the force of the expelled gas fires the three men out, but only Capa and Macemake it back onto the Icarus II after floating through space. Searle commits suicide on the Icarus I by exposing himself to the sun as the Icarus IIdrifts away, and the rest of the crew onboard the Icarus II regroup to evaluate their dilemmaexcept Trey, who is sedated in the infirmary and on suicidal watch after blaming himself foreverything that has gone wrong on the mission. They reason that the Icarus II did not decoupleitself from the Icarus I, and conceive that Trey manually did it, although everyone is dubious ifhe can even function properly. During their meeting Corazon reveals that they do not haveenough oxygen to survive long enough to make it to the payload delivery point, so they decideto kill Trey to make the oxygen last longer. Mace goes to kill him, but Trey is found alreadydead from an apparent suicide. Shortly after, Capa does a routine inspection of the payload, and as he is working asksIcarus to run a diagnostic to see how much oxygen is left on board the ship. He is disturbed tolearn that they do not have enough oxygen to complete the mission, even though Corazon hadalready done the calculations to assure that the oxygen supply could support the remaining fourcrew members. In a surprising twist, Icarus reveals that there are five crew members on board.Capa rushes to the observation room to see who the fifth crew member is, revealing it to be ahideously burned Pinbacker. Pinbacker slashes Capa with a scalpel and chases him into anairlock, locking him in. Pinbacker then kills Corazon, sabotages the ship’s mainframecomputer, and chases Cassie into the payload. Mace tries to fix the mainframe computer, butdies from freezing in the coolant. Capa, meanwhile, dons a spacesuit and depressurizes theentire spaceship in order to escape the airlock. He disengages the payload and makes it onboard the giant bomb just as the Icarus II explodes. Inside the payload—which is entering the
  • 9sun—Capa is attacked by Pinbacker, but manages to escape with the help of Cassie. He thenenters the payload control room and detonates the stellar bomb. In the last shot of the movie, Capa’s sister and her children play in a snowy field,darkened by clouds and a nearly-absent sun. In the background, the Sydney Opera House ispresent, and suddenly the whole landscape brightens, indicating that the Icarus mission was asuccess.13 Filmmakers There are two filmmakers credited with the story of Sunshine. Alex Garland, thescreenwriter, started out as a famed novelist before making the move towards cinema. Heattended the University of Manchester where he studied art history, but his career changeddramatically after he wrote The Beach, a bizarre coming-of-age novel which quickly gained acult status. This first book was adapted into a poorly-reviewed motion picture directed byDanny Boyle, working on their first collaboration together. Garland then wrote two morenovels, The Tesseract and The Coma, both of which were well-received. Garland worked withBoyle again by writing the screenplay to the hit zombie movie 28 Days Later, and then againin 2007 with writing the screenplay for Sunshine.14 Danny Boyle, the director of Sunshine, also has a diverse career. Born in 1956 inManchester, England, Boyle studied at the University of Wales before pursuing a career intheater. He made his way to movies via television, first directing several television shows andmade-for-TV movies. His breakthrough debut came when he directed the hit Shallow Grave, a 13 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle. 14 Rotten Tomatoes, “Alex Garland,” Rotten Tomatoes,http://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/alex_garland/biography.php (accessed June 4, 2010).
  • 10dark comedy about three roommates who find their new flatmate dead with a stash of drugsand a suitcase full of cash. The film drew great popularity in Britain, and he followed that upwith the even more popular Trainspotting, an internationally successful film about drug useamongst a group of Scotsmen. Boyle next directed two less popular movies, a love story calledA Life Less Ordinary followed by the filmic adaptation of Garland’s The Beach. He took adramatic turn in 2002 directing the zombie movie 28 Days Later, only to follow it up with acomplete change of pace by directing the 2004 kid’s movie Millions. It was then he spentnearly three years making Sunshine before directing the worldwide smash hit SlumdogMillionaire, earning praise from audiences around the world.15 It was the winner of eightAcademy Awards, including the Best Director Oscar for Danny Boyle. Covering films fromhorror to comedy, kid’s movies to science fiction films, Boyle’s filmography is indeed eclecticand varied. Yet despite Boyle’s standing with film critics—averaging from high praise toextremely negative reviews on many of his movies—it is important to look at the responsefrom audiences on Sunshine to see how well it was received. Financial and Critical Reception of Sunshine Sunshine was originally slated to open in October 2006, but was delayed for severalmonths until it finally opened in several markets on April 6, 2007. It opened strongly in theUnited Kingdom, where it was partly made and financed, and grossed approximately $2million dollars from playing on only 407 screens. It also opened strongly in Southeast Asiaterritories such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.16 By the end of April, the film had 15 Biography, “Danny Boyle Biography,” Biography, http://www.biography.com/articles/Danny-Boyle-412160?part=0 (accessed June 4, 2010). 16 Conor Bresnan, “Around the World Roundup: ‘300’ Resurrected,” Box Office Mojo,http://boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=2291&p=.htm (accessed June 5, 2010).
  • 11opened in many other markets except the United States, garnering a disappointing sum at thebox office. It was finally given a limited release in America on July 20, 2007, and then a widerrelease the next week. In all, Sunshine grossed a meager $3.7 million at the United States’ boxoffice.17 The majority of its income came from the foreign box office, where the film took inover $28 million, but at a worldwide total of $32 million, Sunshine still failed to recoup itsbudget.18 It did, however, manage to make a significant amount of money in rental sales.19 The critics’ reviews of the film were generally positive. According to Rotten Tomatoes,seventy-four percent of the critics gave the film positive reviews, meaning out of the 153 totalreviews 113 critics like the movie.20 The website further divides the reviews into a “TopCritics” score,21 and fifty-nine percent of the critics in this category gave the film a positivereview, i.e. nineteen out of thirty-two critics enjoyed the film.22 The overall consensus of thefilm was that “Danny Boyle continues his descent into mind-twisting sci-fi madness, taking usalong for the ride. Sunshine fulfills the dual requisite necessary to become classic sci-fi:dazzling visuals with intelligent action.”23 Furthermore, many of the critics agreed that whilethe first two acts of the movie are impressive and moving, the third act turns into a somewhat 17 John Boaz, “Sunshine,” in Magill’s Cinema Annual 2008, ed. Hillary White, 27th ed. (FarmingtonHills, MI: Gale, 2008), 381. 18 Box Office Mojo, “Sunshine (2007),” Box Office Mojohttp://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=sunshine06.htm (accessed June 5, 2010). 19 In the first two months of being released on home media, Sunshine made $15.83 million according toBox Office Mojo, “Sunshine (2007) – DVD/Home Video Rentals,” Box Office Mojo,http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=homevideo&id=sunshine06.htm (accessed June 5, 2010). 20 Rotten Tomatoes, “Sunshine Movie Reviews, Pictures,” Rotten Tomatoes, under T-Meter Critics tab,http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/sunshine/?name_order=asc (accessed June 5, 2010). 21 The “Top Critics” tab is sub-listed in a separate category while still being included in the generalrating. Here, only major film reviewers from popular and prominent news sources are used. 22 Rotten Tomatoes, “Sunshine Movie Reviews, Pictures,” under Top Critics tab. 23 Ibid.
  • 12dizzying and disparate movie altogether. Film critic Kyle Smith says “halfway through . . .things get really dopey when Boyle tosses in a character who seems to have wandered off theset of his own “28 Days Later.” So what starts out as fascinating sci-fi becomes just fi.”24CriticWendy Ide sums it up best when she states It’s just a pity that the film sells out much of its initial potential and intelligent restraint with a final act that feels as it was tacked on to appease a teenage audience. . . . the story . . . instantly shifts the tone from intelligent, adult drama to teen exploitation picture.25The critics are in agreement that the tone shift sabotages the integrity of the first two acts of thefilm, but there is one aspect of Sunshine that everyone agrees with: the visuals. Even though Ide and other critics opinioned the third act too deviant from the rest of thefilm, she calls out that “Sunshine looks magnificent. . . . this British production can matchanything that Hollywood has churned out on a budget many times the size.”26 This was clearlythe strongpoint of the movie; nearly all critics gave the film accolades for the astounding visualeffects. Famed film reviewer Roger Ebert said of Sunshine: “the special effects in outer spaceare convincing and remorseless.”27 Other critics say that “Sunshine’s most striking features[are] its visuals. . . . For example, a shot of Mercury passing over the surface of the sun is soincredible that it looks as if it were actually filmed rather than rendered in a computer.”28 Lisa 24 Kyle Smith, “Baby, Fire My Light,” New York Post, July 20, 2007,http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/item_4Unu5y9VRfdMSxQUMDdE4O;jsessionid=ACB493836234172BAF3A1B27196FD82B (accessed June 5, 2010). 25 Wendy Ide, “Sunshine,” Times Online, April 4, 2007,http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/film_reviews/article1614026.ece (accessedJune 5, 2010). 26 Ibid. 27 Roger Ebert, “Sunshine,” Chicago Sun-Times, July 20, 2010,http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070719/REVIEWS/70702003/-1/REVIEWS01(accessed June 5, 2010). 28 Boaz, “Sunshine,” in Magill’s Cinema Annual 2008, 382.
  • 13Schwarzbaum, another top critic on Rotten Tomatoes and a reviewer of Entertainment Weekly,agrees that “the unfathomable burning brightness of the sun bathes the whole picture in flashesof cinematic dazzle.”29 Other critics concur that the special effects are “mesmerizing,”30“spectacular,”31 and that Sunshine is infused with “awesome eye candy.”32 After the film’s reviews have been evaluated, an important question arises: why isSunshine important? To argue that it is visually stimulating and cinematically entertaining issimply not enough. To an audience, this might justify a reason to pay money to see it. But tothe rhetorical critic, this film is important because of how it manages to weave in elements thatare beyond its visual and narrative level. With the time, energy, and money spent on the visualelements, clearly they were an important, integral factor in the movie. Indeed, thesecomponents are here not only to satisfy an audience aesthetically while watching the movie,but moreover they are here to speak about something more profound that the filmmakers canmerely put in words. But now that the reader understands the artifact itself—its story, history,inspirations, and creators—the methodology must be examined to eventually discover themessages behind Sunshine. 29 Lisa Schwarzbaum, “Sunshine,” Entertainment Weekly, July 18, 2007,http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20046828,00.html (accessed June 7, 2010). 30 Claudia Puig, “Radiantly Filmed ‘Sunshine’ Ultimately Veers Off Beam,” USA Today, July 20, 2007,http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/reviews/2007-07-19-sunshine_N.htm (accessed June 7, 2010). 31 Desson Thomson, “’Sunshine’: A Sci-Fi Thriller with a Bright Future,” Washington Post, July 27,2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/27/AR2007072700027.html (accessedJune 7, 2010). 32 Steven Rae, “Sailing Into Space to Save the Dying Sun,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 27, 2007,http://www.philly.com/inquirer/columnists/steven_rea/20070727_Sailing_into_space_to_save_the_dying_sun.html#axzz0qJN3mvDu (accessed June 7, 2010).
  • 14 CLUSTER CRITICISM METHODOLOGY Background The cluster criticism methodology begins with the rhetorician behind cluster criticism:the American literary theorist and philosopher Kenneth Burke.33 Since cluster criticism will beused to reveal aspects about the rhetors, it is important to trace the word “rhetoric” back to itsmost basic element, and Burke defines it as “the use of words by human agents to formattitudes or to induce actions in other human agents.”34 Rhetoric, then, as seen in the light ofBurke’s definition, is simply persuasion. How one human agent goes about persuading anotherhuman agent is the focus of the cluster criticism methodology. Burke suggests that the process of identification is key in order to persuade someone.Individuals form identities—or the individual characteristics by which a thing or person isrecognized or known35—through a myriad of objects both physical and psychological. Theseobjects might include words, ideas, materialistic entities, beliefs, values, or cultures. But morethan simply these elements, identification is when “a [wo]man “identifies himself” with allsorts of manifestations beyond himself.”36 Moreover, in the philosophy of Friedrich Wilhelm 33 Kenneth Burke was a best known as a “specialist in symbol-systems and symbolic action,” fromWilliam H. Rueckert, Kenneth Burke and the Drama of Human Relations, 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA: University ofCalifornia Press, 1982), 359. Additionally, Burke was an expert on language, focusing on its “nature, functions,and consequences,” from Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp, Contemporary Perspectives onRhetoric, 3rd ed. (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 2002), 188. Burke was one of the founders of the NewCriticism literary movement, and “produced a body of work that has left a mark on many American-born writers,critics, and literary theorists. He explored problems of interpretation, literary meaning, and symbolic action interms of the relationship to human motivations,” from Bekah Shaia Dickstein, “Kenneth Burke,” Penn StateUniversity, http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Burke__Kenneth.html (accessed June 30, 2010). 34 Kenneth Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1950), 41. 35 WordNet, “Identity,” Princeton University, http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=identity(accessed June 11, 2010). 36 Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Towards History, 3rd ed. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press,1959), 263.
  • 15Joseph von Schelling, a German idealist thinker, identity is when a subject essentially becomesone with an object.37 Burke had another way of attributing Schelling’s concept of identity with his ownviews of identification. Transcending identification and entering a deeper concept of it, Burkeused the term “consubstantial,” saying that when people “have common sensations, concepts,images, ideas, [and] attitudes . . . [it] make[s] them consubstantial.”38 He further explains thisconcept by using the following example to show his point: “To call a man a friend or brother isto proclaim him consubstantial with oneself, one’s values or purposes. To call a man a bastardis to attack him by attacking his whole line, his “authorship,” his “principle” or “motive”.”39What Burke is saying here is that if a person calls someone a friend or a brother (in acomradely sense), then they are not only able to identify with one another—perhaps throughsimilar likes or dislikes—but they are also consubstantial with one another, united in beliefs,attitudes or other properties with one another while simultaneously existing as separate beings.Burke affirms that in being identified with [person] B, [person] A is “substantially one” with a person other than himself. Yet at the same time he remains unique, an individual locus of motives. Thus he is both joined and separate, at once a distinct substance and consubstantial with another.40Conversely, two people who do not consent with the beliefs or ideas of one another are notconsubstantial with each other. 37 Andrew Bowie, “Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling,” Stanford University,http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/schelling/#3 (accessed June 11, 2010). 38 Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives, 21. 39 Kenneth Burke, A Grammar of Motives (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1969), 57. 40 Kenneth Burke, On Symbols and Society, ed. Joseph R. Gusfield (Chicago, IL: University of ChicagoPress, 1989), 180.
  • 16 After Burke illustrates that identification is tantamount with consubstantiation, he thenexplains how persuasion fits into the picture by saying “you persuade a man only insofar asyou can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, identifyingyour ways with his.”41 In other words, a person persuades someone by comparing identifyingvalues with each other, trying to convince that one person’s ideas are better than the other’s.Yet, if two people are on different sides of an argument, then this brings about another elementthat is inherent if there is persuasion: division. Burke states that “identification impliesdivision,” because in order to persuade, there must be two different people arguing twodifferent agendas.42 He adds that if “[wo]men were not apart from one another, there would beno need for the rhetorician to proclaim their unity. If [wo]men were wholly and truly of onesubstance, absolute communication would be of [wo]man’s very essence.”43 Division, then, isnecessary for persuasion; people must disagree on some issue for persuasion to occur. But inorder for persuasion to occur, there must be identification; people must identify and must beconsubstantial with their beliefs, ideas, or attitudes. Thus, in a roundabout way, we are back tothe very motive of rhetoric itself: that humans attempt to eliminate separation throughcommunication. Terministic Screens Once the rhetor understands their personal ideologies, beliefs, attitudes, or likings, theythen search for a way to interpret these thoughts so other people can see and identify withthem. One such way rhetors express their thoughts and beliefs is through artifacts. These 41 Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives, 55. 42 Ibid., 45. 43 Ibid., 22.
  • 17artifacts may be found in many forms, from movies to paintings, photography to books, oreven the United States Constitution or historical speeches. What these artifacts provide to therhetor are instances to expound their thoughts and emotions, or to interpret a situation as seenthrough their own eyes. They provide an outlet for rhetors to explain situations or beliefs toothers, and they identify with these artifacts as being synonymous with their beliefs andthoughts. But more than merely functioning as a catalyst to exhibit the rhetors’ worldviews, theartifacts are also revealing the terministic screens about the rhetors themselves. Burke definesthese terministic screens as the words or elements rhetors use to help constitute theirworldviews. He adds that it is more than just choosing which vocabularies to include whenaddressing the artifact; it also includes which vocabularies the rhetor did not choose. Bychoosing certain terms over others, the rhetor is creating a “screen” to direct attention to moreparticular elements over others.44 The selection of these terms, whether they reflect or deflectthe rhetors’ worldviews, serves to say something about the observations the rhetors makeconcerning their identities. Burke asserts that “the nature of our terms affect the nature of ourobservations,” thus showing how rhetors give insight to their interpretation of reality whenselecting the terms.45 These terms are typically explicit in the artifacts, however, they can also 44 Burke states: “Even if any given terminology is a reflection of reality, by its very nature as aterminology it must be a selection of reality; and to this extent it must function also as a deflection of reality.”From Kenneth Burke, Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method (Berkeley, CA:University of California Press, 1966), 45. 45 Ibid., 46.
  • 18be found implicitly within the artifacts as well.46 The definition will next be explored in orderfor the reader to be totally familiar with the purpose of this methodology. Defining of Cluster Criticism So as to understand how rhetors identify themselves with the world around themthrough both their explicit and implicit terministic screens, the cluster criticism methodologycan be used. Cluster criticism, in its most basic sense, is “noting what follows what.”47 Clustercriticism is the study of “noting what subjects cluster about other subjects” with the intentionand purpose of revealing the true motives of the rhetor.48 In this methodology, the artifactbeing examined is used as a “vessel” to carry terms and symbols used by the rhetor to suggest acertain worldview.49 Burke explicates: the work of every writer contains a set of implicit equations. He uses ‘associational clusters.’ And you may, by examining his work, find ‘’what goes with what’ in these clusters—what kinds of acts and images and personalities and situations go with his notions of heroism, villainy, consolation, despair, etc.50In essence, the critic can reveal the meanings of key symbols found throughout the artifact byexamining and charting the surrounding cluster terms. By collecting and charting the recurringterms, the critic will begin to feel which ones are essential and of utmost importance to the 46 This is further supported by Burke when he says “for there is a wide range of ways whereby therhetorical motive . . . can operate without conscious direction by any particular agent,” from Burke, A Rhetoric ofMotives, 35. 47 Burke, Attitudes Towards History, 191. 48 Ibid., 232. Also, Burke explains that while the rhetor is “perfectly conscious of the act of writing,conscious of selecting a certain kind of imagery to reinforce a certain kind of mood, etc., he cannot possibly beconscious of the interrelationships among all these equations,” from The Philosophy of Literary Form (Berkeley,CA: University of California Press, 1974), 20. 49 Burke, Attitudes Towards History, 233. 50 Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Form, 20.
  • 19rhetor.51 And, since the clustering terms are typically introduced into the artifactsubconsciously by the rhetor, a cluster analysis can give insight into the rhetors’ worldviewsthat are likely unbeknownst to them.52 Finally, once the definition and theories behind clustercriticism are known, the critic must understand the procedures for using cluster criticism beforeit can be applied to the artifact. Procedures for Using Cluster Criticism While it is clear the purpose of cluster criticism is to reveal the rhetor’s worldviews, theprocedures for analyzing an artifact is not too difficult. The main purpose in the procedure is to“form “clusters” or groups of highly similar entities,” or, afresh, to find associated termssurrounding a key element.53 It is necessary that the artifact be of decent length in order forthere to be ample terms clustering around the key terms; for instance, an advertisement or shortpoem may not have sufficient data.54 Ergo, this paper focuses on the film Sunshine where thevisual and narrative elements are plentiful and can be examined. After an appropriate artifact is selected, the next step involves identifying the keyterms. The process calls for the critic limits the amount of key terms selected from the artifact;if too many are selected, the complexity of analyzing the artifact will become too great. The 51 Bernard L. Brock, Robert L. Scott, and James W. Chesebro, eds., Rhetorical Criticism: A Twentieth-Century Perspective, rev. 3rd ed. (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1990), 187. 52 Burke explains that “by charting clusters, we get our cues as to the important ingredients . . . reveal[ed]beneath an author’s “official front.”” He also uses the following example to clarify his point: “If a man’s virtuouscharacters are dull, and his wicked characters are done vigorously, his art has voted for the wicked ones,regardless of his “official front.” If a man talks dully of glory, but brilliantly employs the imagery of desolation,his true subject is desolation,” from Burke, Attitudes Toward History, 233. 53 Mark S. Aldenderfer and Roger K. Blashfield, Cluster Analysis, Quantitative Applications in theSocial Sciences 44 (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1984), 7. 54 Sonja K. Foss, Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration & Practice, 4th ed. (Prospect Heights, IL: WavelandPress, 2009), 66.
  • 20key terms are determined by two main elements: frequency and intensity, or how often keyterms appear in the artifact and how much of an impact key terms have on the content ormessage of the artifact. The key terms often function as god or devil terms, or terms thatrepresent the ideal or the ultimate negative or evil for a rhetor.55 After discovering the key terms, the next step is to identify the cluster terms and tochart them around the key terms. The frequency and intensity of an element in the artifact maybe key to identifying cluster terms. Sonja Foss explains other ways a critic may pick out keyterms: They simply may appear in close proximity to the term, or a conjunction such as and may connect to a key term. A rhetor also may develop a cause-and-effect relationship between the key term and another term, suggesting that one depends on the other or that one is the cause of the other.56For instance, a key term found in Sunshine might be “death,” and surrounding that key termcould be anything associated with death, such as a scalpel, darkness, or blood. The final step in the analysis of an artifact is discovering the messages embedded inthe clusters and key terms. As previously discussed, the purpose of using the cluster analysis isto reveal the worldviews of the rhetors who created the artifacts; here, the realizations anddiscoveries are made known, and the terms and images found in the analysis ought to cometogether to form the idea of what the rhetor is conveying to the audience. Foss sums it up bysaying “a critic attempts to find patterns in the associations or linkages discovered in thecharting of the clusters as a way of making visible the worldview constructed by the rhetor.”57The terms and images in the artifact carry meaning; their significance and reoccurrence give 55 Ibid., 66-67. 56 Ibid., 67. 57 Ibid.
  • 21insight to the worldviews of the rhetor; and therefore, the rhetor will use these clusters—oftensubconsciously—to say what they mean to say. Rhetors will continuously use terms andelements they deem important to their worldview and incorporate them into the artifact,allowing the critic to interpret these elements and explore their worldviews. Criticisms of Cluster Criticism Since the cluster criticism methodology is a fairly simple procedure with a consistentpurpose to reveal the worldviews of the rhetor, it is difficult to find many criticisms negatingthe legitimacy of this methodology. However, few do exist. The first involves trying to connectclusters from one form of a rhetor’s work to another, even though there might be no connectionbetween the two whatsoever. A critic may try to do this so as to round out a cluster in oneartifact and connect it with similar clusters in a separate artifact; however, creating imaginativelinks can lead to a defective analysis. It may lead to associating terms in one artifact to thesame terms in another artifact, even if the different terms are found in two completely differentcontexts.58 In addition, another criticism involves subconscious connections between twoartifacts as an error on the critic’s part. If a critic spends too much time using this methodologywhile analyzing numerous artifacts, it is said that a long experience with this kind of analysis may result in the partly unconscious compiling of a “dream book” of poetic symbols which then could incapacitate the critic’s discrimination in approaching new poems [artifacts] afresh, so that any tree in any poem might finally find itself regarded as a father symbol.59That is, if a critic continues to give a consistent meaning to one symbol in an artifact, it islikely that the critic will carry over a similar meaning to the same symbol in another artifact. 58 Armin Paul Frank, Kenneth Burke (Farmington Hills, MI: Twayne Publishers, 1969), 114-115. 59 Ibid., 115.
  • 22 Another criticism of the cluster methodology involves the fact that it is a simpleprocedure; as such, they are “little more than plausible algorithms that can be used to createclusters of cases.”60 That is to say, other than the hypotheses the critic creates to explain themeaning of the symbols in an artifact, there is little other evidence to further back it up, withthe potential of false interpretations arising. Finally, “different clustering methods can and dogenerate different solutions to the same data set.”61 There can never truly be one steadyexplanation for an artifact in using cluster analysis; every critic will argue for a differentinterpretation based on their own views of the artifact, perhaps even choosing different keyterms and clusters altogether. This is not as big of a problem for using the cluster analysisrhetorically, but for certain statistical studies, a different outcome from the same data could bedisastrous. At last, with a thorough understanding of the purpose, definition, and procedures ofthe cluster criticism methodology, it can finally be applied to the rhetorical artifact of Sunshinein the next section. APPLYING CLUSTER CRITICISM TO THE MOVIE SUNSHINE Key Terms The first thing necessary in completing the cluster analysis of Sunshine is to isolate thekey terms throughout the movie. As the erstwhile sections have suggested, the film providesample data for accumulating cluster and key terms and analyzing the film based on a variety ofelements. Given that the artifact here is a motion picture, it only makes sense to include thevisual elements present along with the narrative elements of the story. Thus, the paperexamines terms that cluster around a number of key terms, which were identified based on 60 Aldenderfer and Blashfield, Cluster Analysis, 14. 61 Ibid., 15.
  • 23their intensity and frequency. The clusters that then emerged from these key terms were usedas the foundation to discover the meaning and purpose of their presence in the artifact, with thepurpose of revealing the worldviews of the filmmakers. Light The first major group of terms that formed a cluster can be found in the key term“light.” As might already be evident from the plotline and title of the artifact, light plays a largerole in Sunshine, and the sun acts as the main catalyst at presenting the omniscient presence ithas throughout the entire movie. The first shot of the film provides an excellent illustration toshow how the sun seemingly becomes a main character in the movie. Starting out as a smalldot on the horizon behind the Fox Searchlight Pictures logo, the sun grows and intensifies as itsbrightness and luminosity envelop the entire screen.62 The audience is given their first look atthe power and intensity of the star, signaling that indeed the sun has a key role in the film’sstory. Not even a minute later in the movie, the audience gets another spectacular shot of thesun through a filter, as the Icarus II’s psychologist Searle stares in awe at the star.63 Obsessedwith the power of the sun’s light, Searle turns the observation room’s filter up to the maximumintensity of sunlight a human can handle, engulfing himself in brightness. This scene isrecreated again only minutes later when, after Searle shares his experience with the rest of the 62 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:00:26 – 00:01:25. See also Appendix A, Figures 1 &2. 63 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:02:18.
  • 24crew, Kaneda, the captain, looks at the sun through the observation room filter.64 Yet again,later in the movie, Searle goes back to the observation room to stare at the sun.65 Another visual element clustering around “light” includes the psychology room. TheIcarus II’s engineer Mace goes here after getting into a fight with Capa, and the psychologyroom becomes a place for him to recoup. The room is cast in a bright shade of white, as nearlyevery object in the room is this color, including the walls, tables, lights, glass, and evenSearle’s shirt.66 Light is also present when Capa goes to the observation room towards the endof the movie to discover who the mysterious visitor is aboard the spaceship. 67 Two otherinstances of brightness are shown towards the end of the movie when Capa reaches into thesun’s fire after setting off the stellar bomb, and also when the sun sweeps over the Australiancountryside implying the Icarus II’s mission was successful.68 Moreover, the frequency of the visual elements concerning the sun was not the onlyway light played a large role in Sunshine; the intensity of sunlight was also a large factor.Many times during the movie, the intense, bright light of the sun contrasted against theblackness of space, making it difficult for a viewer’s eye to even become acclimated to such achange in brightness.69 But this was not the only way the filmmakers tried to make the sun feel 64 Ibid., 00:08:37. See also Appendix A, Figure 3. 65 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:23:40. See also Appendix A, Figure 4. 66 See Appendix A, Figure 5. 67 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 01:13:36. In Appendix A, Figure 6, Capa holds out hishand to shield himself from the intense light streaming into the observation room, apprehensive as to who isbathing in the sunlight. 68 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle. See time maker 01:39:33 and Appendix A, Figure 7 forCapa reaching into the fire, and time marker 01:40:39 to watch the sunlight cover the countryside. 69 Film reviewer James Kendrick said that the light “throughout the film . . . is intense, all-consuming . . .often filling the screen and drowning out everything else,” from Film Desk Reviews,http://www.qnetwork.com/index.php?page=review&id=1862 (accessed June 17, 2010).
  • 25more intense; the color scheme of the movie was altered in order to make the audience feelsurrounded by light. In an interview, Danny Boyle said we tried to rob the audience of the colors orange and red. We didn’t have any of those colors inside the ship. And then when you went outside the ship, you suddenly felt all this orange light. It’s like you had been thirsty without being aware of it; you had been denied this color orange. And then suddenly you’re flooded with it.70Clearly, then, imposing on the audience the importance and brilliance of light and the sun wasone of the main objectives of the director; thus, it is important to use brightness as a key term.The implications of “light”, along with the other key terms, will be discussed in the subsequentsections once the other key terms and clusters have been uncovered. Darkness Darkness appeared as another key term, appearing in many clusters which contracted“light”. As the film does take place in outer space, it would almost be impossible for thefilmmakers to not include the blackness and darkness found there. Nonetheless, it is curious tosee how many times shots of outer space are used as transitions in the movie, usually withnothing occurring in these shots to further the plot. The first instance where a shot of totaldarkness is used is in the audience’s first view of the Icarus II spaceship, which appears as anexterior view of the vessel.71 Other shots of the spaceship show it entirely alone in the void ofspace, with nothing around it but the faint glitter of stars amongst the black backdrop.72 Thereare a myriad of other shots as well, most of which are nonessential to telling the story—but still 70 Kurt Loder, “Danny Boyle’s Space Odyssey,” MTV Networks,http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1564535/20070711/story.jhtml (accessed May 19, 2010). 71 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:01:45. See also Appendix B, Figure 1. 72 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:06:41. See also Appendix B, Figure 2.
  • 26present, perhaps, because of something the director and writer are trying to say, which will bediscussed in the implications section.73 More interestingly, the key term “darkness” seems to also be associated with safety,and in the movie light is more menacing than anything. Typically in films, especially horror,darkness provides a haven for the antagonist to hide, only to jump out at the perfect moment toscare the protagonist. Other times, characters might be portrayed as nyctophobic, or afraid ofthe dark. Conversely in Sunshine, darkness plays out as a shelter for the protagonists in variousscenes. For instance, in the most obvious example during the course of the movie, the Icarus IIis entirely hidden in the shadows of the giant shield, keeping it safe from the sun’s destructiverays. Similarly, when Capa and Kaneda go out to fix the damage shield, the spaceship must beturned in order for them to work in the dark. And when Pinbacker—the captain of the IcarusI—begins to destroy the Icarus II to sabotage the mission, Cassie hides in the darkness as ameans of eluding him.74 Eyes Another major cluster is found around the key term “eyes”. This is mainly a visualelement found throughout the film, as there are copious shots of simply characters’ eyesappearing throughout the film. The first shot that an eye seems to appear—albeit difficult todiscern—is of the Icarus II as it flies towards the sun. There is only a very brief moment tocatch this view, and the way that this shot is created, it is very unlikely that the filmmakerseven realized what happened during these frames.75 Only seconds later the audience is 73 For other exterior shots of the Icarus II, see the time markers in Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by DannyBoyle, 00:06:35; 00:08:12; 00:12:43; and 00:29:25. 74 Ibid., 01:39:00. See also Appendix B, Figure 3.
  • 27introduced to Searle as he stares at the sun in the observation room. As he is asking thecomputer how much of the sun’s light a human can handle, a close-up shot of Searle’s eyes isused.76 Once Searle opens the observation room filter to allow the sunlight to flood the room,Searle struggles to keep his eyes open behind a pair of sunglasses. More clusters of ‘eyes” appear when Kaneda takes Searle’s suggestion and experiencesthe intensity of the sun. Replicating almost the exact same shot as Searle, an extreme close-upof Kaneda’s eye is used as he stares through sunglasses.77 Later, as Kaneda watches Pinbackeron a video screen giving an energized account of an asteroid storm he saw, another shot ofKaneda’s eyes is used as he absorbs what Pinbacker is saying. Then, in an extreme close-up,Pinbacker’s eyes fill the frame as he explains the beauty of what he saw.78 Again, a close-upshot of Capa is used as he debates whether the Icarus II should divert their mission torendezvous with the Icarus I or whether they should stay on course.79 Later, as Kaneda watchesthe sunlight come towards him after repairing the damaged shields—knowing that this will bethe cause of his death—another close up of his eyes is used.80 Finally, as Pinbacker gives amessage on to the computer as to why the Icarus I abandoned their mission, Boyle uses theshot of his eye, as well as when Pinbacker locks Capa in the airlock.81 These shots, employed 75 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:02:10. See also Appendix C, Figure 1 for anexplanation and screenshot of this cluster. 76 Ibid., 00:02:47. See also Appendix C, Figure 2. 77 Ibid., 00:03:54. See also Appendix C, Figure 3. 78 Ibid., 00:13:44. See also Appendix C, Figure 4. 79 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:21:56. See also Appendix C Figure 5. 80 Ibid., 00:39:27. See also Appendix C, Figure 6. 81 Ibid., 00:54:00, and 01:16:23. For a shot of Pinbacker, see Appendix C, Figure 7.
  • 28mainly through the use of close-up shots are interesting because of a certain narrative similarityamongst all of them. In the implications section this similarity will be discussed. Hot and Cold The next two key terms will be put together, seeing that they are direct opposites ofeach other (as “light” and “darkness”); however, they are not quite as prevalent as thesepreceding two, thus their inclusion into one key term. To begin, the key term “hot”, whilestanding uniquely on its own, is nonetheless closely associated with “light” in Sunshine,because the main source of light itself is the fire of the sun. Hence, if “hotness” is paired with“light” in that the source of light itself is hot, then the opposite must be true: that the absence oflight—dark—must be linked with cold. This pairing of “hot is to light” and “cold is to dark” isseen through several clusters in Sunshine, beginning with the death of the communicationsofficer on Icarus II, Harvey. When he tries to jump through space while hanging onto Capa’sspacesuit, he accidentally gets thrown off, sending him into the darkness of space, where heimmediately freezes to death in the shadow of the Icarus II. But as soon he reaches the edge ofthe Icarus II’s shield and is exposed to the sunlight, he merely dissolves out of existence fromthe sun’s scorching rays. In addition to Harvey’s death by freezing, cold is also the cause ofMace’s death when he jumps into a tank of coolant in order to repair the ship’s damagedmainframe computers. Also, a scene showing the Earth’s surface as being entirely frozensignifies the necessity of sun’s rays in warming the earth.82 “Hot” is found in other clusters as well throughout the movie. During an opening dinnerscene, many of the characters add chili sauce to their meals—a natural way to make food hotterto the tongue. Even more interestingly, the name Mace itself, while it may serve the purpose of 82 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 01:39:45. See also Appendix D, Figure 1.
  • 29being a man’s name, is also better known as a self-defense weapon containing peppers, anothersource of extreme heat against the body. Later, Capa has a dream about dying and shares hisdream with Cassie, who comments she dreams of the exact same thing. They both havenightmares of falling into the sun, dying from the fire as it reaches up towards them.83 Finally,in the only shot of earth, Boyle uses the frame of a snowy countryside next to the SydneyOpera House to show the effect of the dying sun on the earth’s environment. When asked whyhe chose this site to use, Boyle stated that “you’ve got six monuments in the world that areuniversally recognizable and only Sydney has the heat-thing.”84 As it would be unprecedentedto see snowfall in Sydney, Australia, Boyle uses this shot to show how much the sun’s fadinghas affected the earth.85 Rejuvenation Another key term that appears throughout Sunshine deals with the concept ofrejuvenation or renewal. This was a trickier key term to deal with, mainly because the clusterssurrounding this key term are more arbitrary and have less of a connection to the key termthan, for instance, the obvious connection between light and the sun. The most prominentexample of this key term in Sunshine is, unsurprisingly, the rejuvenation of the sun, as thewhole plot involves around the mission to restart it—to give new life to a dying star.Additionally, water was found to be a way in which characters rejuvenated themselves.Referring back to the dinner scene, the crew members can all be seen drinking wateraccompanying their food. Also, when Capa gets back inside the ship after repairing the 83 Ibid., 00:23:51. See also Appendix D, Figure 2. 84 Kolan, “Interview: Danny Boyle,” IGN, March 14, 2007. 85 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 01:40:36. See also Appendix D, Figure 3.
  • 30damaged shields, he uses water to replenish himself. In the oxygen garden, water is essential togrowing foods, which in turn replenishes the crew.86 And, in terms of refreshing the mind,Mace goes into the earth room after getting in a fight with Capa, blaming his actions onimpatience and anxiety as a result of being away from earth for too long. There, as part of histherapy, he asks to watch a simulation of waves, and although the computer says he needs tosee something peaceful, Mace replies that they make him feel calm.87 The color green also fits the description of this key term, as clusters involving objectsof this color are found to be rejuvenating as well. As Capa sends a message from the Icarus IIback to his family on earth, he does so in a small green conference room, uplifting his spirits asthe ship is about to lose contact with earth because of their distance. Once again, the garden isa source of revitalization, and in the earth room, Mace is subjected to the quietness of a forestin order to calm his nerves, although he chooses the waves instead.88 After the crew loses theoxygen garden and docks with the Icarus I, everyone is overjoyed to see the lush, green oxygengarden of the Icarus I, flourishing after seven years of unchecked growth. Finally, although theoxygen garden onboard the Icarus II was thought to be totally destroyed, when the ship’sbotanist Corazon goes to inspect it, she finds a small, new plant beginning to grow out of therubble, a sign that the plant life is able to revive itself if given ample time.89 86 Ibid., 00:06:52. See also Appendix E, Figure 1. 87 Ibid., 00:11:35. See also Appendix E, Figure 2. 88 To see the garden, refer back to Appendix E, Figure 1. 89 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 01:18:03. See also Appendix E, Figure 3.
  • 31 The Comparison between Big and Small A smaller yet nonetheless pertinent key term involves images throughout the filmwhere there is a comparison between a smaller object and a larger object. For the lack of abetter term, the key term here will simply be the comparison of the two, although theimplications—which are rather existential—will be dealt with later in the future implicationssection. To begin, the first cluster that revolves around this key term is, as mentioned in the“light” section, the small size of the sun growing and intensifying in the opening shot of themovie. What was not pointed out earlier, however, is that in this shot the sun ends up beingonly a reflection of the sun on the Icarus II’s shields. The camera turns and ends up behind theIcarus before it continues flying towards the sun, first appearing as a huge, massive spaceship,but ending up being only a tiny dot on the screen as the sun overwhelms it with its light. Asimilar shot is used after the Icarus II slingshots around Mercury and flies towards the sun,turning into a small dot shrinking as it aims towards its objective. A more lucid representation of a cluster term connected to this key term can be foundwhen the crew passes Mercury on their way to the sun. As they approach the planet, it isdifficult to even distinguish it from the huge backdrop of the sun, but a close-up shot of theplanet proves its existence.90 Another cluster term can be found when Kaneda and Capa dontheir spacesuits to go repair the broken shield. As they leave the spaceship and head towardsthe section of the ship, it is nearly impossible to pick out their bodies on the screen because ofhow small they are in comparison to the ship.91 Similarly, as Searle stands in front of the sun,the smallness of his being is implied as he stands in awe at the behemoth star in front of him.92 90 Ibid., 00:15:41. See also Appendix F, Figure 1. 91 Ibid., 00:31:01. See also Appendix F, Figure 2.
  • 32Finally, the way in which the stellar bomb is detonated can also be seen in this comparison.Capa explains that once the bomb is triggered, the explosion will start off as a single spark,which will then split again and again, creating a massive detonation. Here, the single spark iscompared to the huge spark it will become in only a matter of a split second—the new sun.93Alas, now that the key terms have been discovered along with their cluster terms, theimplications they have on the filmmakers’ beliefs and worldviews can be examined in the nextsection. Implications of the Cluster Terms Concerning the Filmmakers Sunshine has embedded in it certain cluster terms that reoccur through the course of thefilm that support various key terms. As seen in the previous section, the key terms include“light,” “darkness,” “eyes,” “hot and cold,” “rejuvenation,” and “the comparison between bigand small.” Having examined what clusters were associated with these key terms, the next stepin the process is figuring out what the filmmakers mean when they use these terms. Do therepeated terms imply something the filmmakers already know about their worldviews, or didthe terms subliminally and unconsciously make their way into the artifact unbeknownst to therhetors? Each of these key terms will be discussed individually in order to explore and exposepotential implications. Light As light is the most prominent and recurring key term throughout the whole movie, itcan only be implied that it is also the most important element of the film. Boyle confirms theimportance through of the sun, saying that “the sun is the most important thing in everybody’s 92 See Appendix A, Figure 4. 93 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:46:47.
  • 33life, whether you’re a plant, an animal or a fish . . . we take it for granted.”94 Boyle’s ownthoughts on the sun are emphasized through the storyline and the visuals as light, shownthrough the catalyst of the sun, plays a major role in the development of the story. So, howdoes this loan a hand to divulging something about the rhetors? The first interesting fact involving light is how the characters react when they see it.Searle, for instance, known for his infatuation with the sun, smiles after he amplifies the flowof light into the observation room in the beginning of the film.95 Then, in an excited speech, heopines to the rest of the crew about the magnificent power light contains. During a video herecorded seven years prior to the Icarus II’s journey, Pinbacker describes an asteroid storm—and the subsequent “raindrops” of light they produce—as “beautiful.”96 Lastly, as Capa istesting the stellar bomb, Cassie begins to talk to him about the fate of their mission, and theprobability that they will all die. However, as Capa passionately explains how the bomb worksand how bright and powerful the explosion will be, he claims that he is not scared of dying, notafraid to “see the light”.97 Thus, from only the characters’ reactions to seeing the light, it issuggested that light is a life-affirming substance, giving these characters a sense of awe andwonder for the power the light contains. More interestingly, though, is the thought of light as being a giver and taker of life. Forobvious reasons, the sun’s light is necessary to maintain life on earth, providing sunshine forplants to photosynthesize and for a manner in which humans are able to manufacture vitamin D 94 John Hiscock, “Another Bright Idea from Mr. Sunshine,” Telegraphy Media Group,http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/starsandstories/3663788/Another-bright-idea-from-Mr-Sunshine.html(accessed May 19, 2010). 95 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:04:08. 96 Ibid., 00:13:32. 97 Ibid., 00:46:58.
  • 34in their cells. For the crew of the Icarus II, light is necessary for growing food in the ship’soxygen garden and for providing life to the ship in the form of solar energy. After the oxygengarden is destroyed later in the film, the sun again provides the necessary and missingingredient in allowing life to continue flourishing on the ship.98 At the same time, though, lightis used as the destroyer of the oxygen garden, annihilating it and destroying all of the lifetherein.99 Light is also the cause of Kaneda’s death after repairing the ship’s shields,100 as wellas physically destroying and mutilating Pinbacker’s body.101 After examining these interesting implications about light throughout the movie, it isimpossible to suggest there is no connection between the key term “light” and the God of theBible. After all, a recurring symbol in the Bible—if examined with the cluster criticismmethodology—is light used as a representation of God, and throughout the Scriptures, God andHis wisdom are seen through light.102 So, how does the key term “light” and the God of theBible relate to the movie Sunshine? First, in a more spiritual sense, the word “light” is Divinely rich in its comprehensiveness and meaning. Its material splendor is used throughout the Scriptures as the symbol and synonym of all that is luminous and radiant in the mental, moral and spiritual life of men and angels.103 98 See Appendix E, Figure 3 to see Corazon inspecting a new plant as it grows, needing three necessaryingredients to survive: soil, water, and light. 99 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:39:14. See also Appendix G, Figure 1 for a screenshot of the sunshine destroying the oxygen garden. 100 Ibid., 00:41:40. 101 Ibid., 01:15:08. 102 Examples of God and His wisdom seen through light can be seen in various passages: “who alone isimmortal and who lives in unapproachable light,” 1 Tim. 6:16 (New International Version); “The unfolding ofyour words gives light,” Ps. 119:130; and “but you are a chosen people . . . a people belonging to God, that youmay declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light,” 1 Pet. 2:9. 103 The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing,1943), s.v. “light.”
  • 35“Light” then, figuratively speaking, is related with spiritual life and the illumination of thesoul. For the crew aboard the Icarus II, the sun and its light represent something powerful andmysterious that no one can grasp. As they get closer and closer to the star, they are filled with asense of awe and wonder, being so close to the light in a way they have never experiencedbefore, knowing there is a power greater than anything they could ever imagine. Similarly, the power of light as both a creator and destroyer of life is again linked to theGod of the Bible. As most evidently seen in the book of Genesis, God is the Creator of theheavens and the earth, of the sky and land, and of light and life.104 It is also said “the Lord isthe everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.”105 But at the same time, God is alsoseen as the destroyer, best exemplified in the story of Noah.106 Ergo, if God is both the creatorand destroyer of his creation, and if “God is light,” then what does this say about light inSunshine if it too has the capability to both create and destroy life?107 Unmistakably, there isalmost a direct connection between the sun’s light and the God of the Bible. The clusteranalysis reveals the importance and frequency of light throughout the movie; moreover, light,as it is used in both the visual and narrative elements, is nearly identical to the way light is usedin the Bible. Even if the filmmakers do not realize this connection, something is still impliedabout the filmmakers’ worldviews: that they perhaps subconsciously believe there is a powerthat is greater than their wildest imagination—an imagination that they are putting on celluloid 104 Gen. 1:1-27. 105 Isa. 40:28. 106 “So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violencebecause of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth,”” Gen. 6:13. 107 Quote from 1 John 1:5.
  • 36through the movie. The full argument of the “light’s” and the film’s implications, afteranalyzing the implications of the other key terms, will be discussed in the conclusion. Darkness In contrast to light, the implications of “darkness” are just the opposite. This duality—the opposites of light and dark—are interestingly comparable to a number of morality andethical issues, mainly involving the difference between good and evil. But first, to illustrate thisduality, the following definition given by Searle demonstrates the contradictory qualities ofdarkness to light: The point about darkness is you float in it. You and the darkness are distinct from each other because darkness is an absence of something. It’s a vacuum. But total light envelops you. It becomes you.108Implied here, darkness is the absence of not just light, but of everything—it is a vacuum, hesays; a void. If this is true, and one were to imply that light is the opposite of dark, where lightis the presence of God, then darkness would be the opposite of that: the nonexistence of God.This duality is further explicated: “In the Bible the main uses of darkness is in contrast to light.Light is the symbol of God’s purity, wisdom and glory. Darkness is the opposite.”109 If light isa reflection of God and his purity, then it can only be said that darkness is a reflection ofadulteration, the tarnishing and ruination of the perfect image in which God created humans.110 What can then be said of the implications of the rhetors? Darkness is a prevailingelement in Sunshine, a key term which finds its way through multiple instances of narrativeand visual examples. The purpose of the Icarus II’s mission is, once more, to reignite the sun 108 Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle, 00:04:50. 109 The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, s.v. “dark.” 110 See Gen. 1:27.
  • 37since the fading sunbeams are failing to keep the earth warm; in other words, darkness isprevailing over light back on earth. It would be reasonable to argue that darkness—in the senseof a spiritual deficiency of God’s presence—is gradually overpowering the light—i.e. God’spresence—in the world. This close association between the mission of the Icarus II in Sunshineand the spiritual vanishing provide one possible insight behind the filmmakers’ worldview: thatevil is quickly and more than ever prevailing over the earth, and there is a need for good totriumph over it. Eyes The next key term involves images of the characters’ eyes, and again the implicationsare closely associated with Christianity. The eyes must first be analyzed for their context, thatis, what are the characters looking at when the filmmakers filmed them, and how can thisinform the critic as to a possible underlying meaning. In nearly all the instances where a close-up of the eye is visible, the characters are taking in some kind of information as it relates totheir fate. For the opening shot of the Icarus II as it flies into the sun, the shot represents thefinal destination of the ship and—unbeknownst to the crew—the spot of their final restingplace. In both the close-ups of Searle’s and Kaneda’s eyes, they both stare in the sun, only tobe incinerated by it later on in the movie. Pinbacker eyes the camera for whoever might see hismessage, unaware that the Icarus II will receive it and be the cause of his demise. Capa’s eye isfilmed as he examines the trajectory of the payload, the payload which he created both as asavior to the earth and as his own coffin. Finally, in another shot after he has mutated into adeformed and hideous being, Pinbacker looks through the porthole of the airlock at Capa, whois the ultimate cause of his death.111 111 See Appendix C for corresponding screenshots.
  • 38 The repeated use of eyes as a visual picture might hint at a few things relating to lifeand death. One could argue that, since each shot somehow pertains to the characters’ destinies,that destiny and fate themselves are unavoidable. And for each of the characters, their fatesinvolve death as a sacrifice for humanity—deaths that are inevitable. A fascinating parallel canthen be drawn between the characters’ fates and Jesus Christ: that he, just like the crew of theIcarus II, was a sacrifice for humanity, albeit the ultimate sacrifice.112 In brief, the eyesseemingly point to a message that the world needs a savior, seen through the crew of the IcarusII in the movie, which is analogous to the Son of God in the Bible. Hot and Cold Duality again reappears in the key terms of hot and cold, which each bring aroundsimilar implications as “light” and “darkness”. First, the connection between hot and light andcold and darkness are understandable; the sun, emitting the light necessary for earth to survive,is also the source of warmth throughout the movie. In contrast, darkness, existing as a vacuum,is cold because of the absence of light. Apart from the connection between these sets of keyterms, there is not much more to add to the implications of the “hot and cold” key term asidefrom supporting the duality found throughout the movie. The implication that this suggests,however, is that if there is a duality between the images on the screen—between light and dark,hot and cold, big and small—then a critic can take this duality and apply it to reality and thespiritual realm. One could argue dialectics is a major theme throughout the movie, meaningthere is tension between two conflicting ideas. If a critic associates “light” with “hot” and“darkness” with “cold”, and if “God is light” and darkness is the absence of light, then the most 112 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment thatbrought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed,” from Isa. 53:5.
  • 39common and essential duality in Sunshine is the opposition between good and evil and betweenheaven and hell. Rejuvenation Rejuvenation again plays another interesting key role in the narrative of Sunshine,loaning a hand as well to the spiritual argument that underlies the film. The concept ofrejuvenation implies that something must have previously been done in order for a renewal orrevival to occur; that is, there must be a loss or a draining of an element which needs to bereplaced. In Sunshine, those elements are typically water and food (as seen throughvegetation), nutrients that are necessary for survival. But rejuvenation in the movie transcendsjust the physical needs for revitalization when the crew is physiologically drained; there is aspiritual rejuvenation which is more central to the story. Just as their mission seems to be onthe right track, the crew of the Icarus II quickly realizes that life is unpredictable and thateverything can change in the blink of an eye. As the mission deviates off course, as membersof the crew begin to die, and the emotions throughout the whole ship run high, there is a needfor rejuvenation to occur if the crew wants to their mission successfully. A loss of hope spreadsthroughout the Icarus II from the moment they loses their captain, a hope that must be replacedfor the sanity of everyone on board. Thus, they continue to look at the sun and at the plants—atthe things which give them life—as their source of inspiration. It is curious that this is also amajor theme throughout the Bible, i.e. many verses are dedicated to God as a source of strengthwhen people are going through hard times.113 The similarities between this key term and the 113 The following are examples portraying God as a source of strength: “The Sovereign Lord is mystrength,” from Hab. 3:19; “Do not be afraid . . . for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you norforsake you,” from Deut. 31:6; “I can do everything through him who gives me strength,” from Phil. 4:13; “TheLord is my strength, and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped,” from Ps. 28:7; and “I [God] willstrengthen you and help you,” from Isa. 41:10.
  • 40biblical evidence are apparent; the implications that the rhetors are suggesting—that there is aspiritual fulfillment that every human needs—may not be quite as obvious to them. The Comparison between Big and Small The most interesting key term—and the hardest to label—involves images throughoutSunshine in which one object of a smaller size is compared to one of a significantly largermass. While this is not as much a term as it is an idea, it nonetheless has similar spiritualimplications which are impossible to ignore. The repeated comparison between two objects ofunequal dimension indicate there must be some purpose to their use, and after examining theother key terms in a spiritual light it is interesting to see how the present key term fits andnearly completes the cluster analysis of Sunshine. In the simplest sense, the images are of anobject appearing much smaller than their overpowering, overshadowing counterparts in theframe. While it might be a neat shot cinematographically, it appears to be shedding light on amore profound and spiritual matter: that human beings, in the face of eternity, are only but abrief flicker in time. Dust is another object not previously mentioned that supports this idea. The main use ofdust in Sunshine is used when the crew of the Icarus II boards the Icarus I, which is covered inthe particles as a result from the dead bodies of the original crew. Searle mentions that eightypercent of all dust is human skin, implying that the filth around them can only represent onething: death. From being born as living and breathing animals, only to end up in an abioticform such as dust, the point the filmmakers seem to be making here is that in the expanse ofthe whole universe and all of creation, humans are little more than a grain of salt in a whole
  • 41desert that represents eternity. 114 It is not that they are trivializing human life; it seems they aresuggesting that if all humans are is “stardust”, then perhaps there is something bigger and morepowerful in life that must give humans their meaning. For human life cannot be meaningless,as the rhetors do not seem to be exhibiting any sort of nihilistic perspectives; rather, it appearsthey are saying there is something greater in life somewhere in the expanse of the universe,since humans are such a small part of such a giant vastness. The comparison appears to be ametaphor for humans’ smallness in the expanses of eternity, and that, no matter how long lifemay seem, it is important to make everything out of it as possible, because life, as the clichégoes, is too short to waste. CONCLUSION The use of the cluster criticism methodology in examining Sunshine was necessary inuncovering the hidden messages behind the film. Perhaps the most functional way thismethodology loaned its hand to examining this artifact was allowing the critic to analyze theuse of frequent and intense narrative and visual elements—a methodology unique andunparalleled in its procedure. Because of Sunshine’s use of these repeated elements, clustercriticism was the most practical methodology to use on this artifact. More importantly, cluster criticism allowed the critic to answer the questions posed inthe introduction. This paper has discovered and explored the key terms as well as thesurrounding cluster terms in order to reveal the hidden messages behind the film: that when alladded together, the messages reveal that there is a deep spiritual meaning behind Sunshine. The 114 In order to analyze the use of dust throughout the Pinbacker states “All our science, all our hopes, ourdreams are foolish! In the face of this—we are dust. Nothing more. And to this dust we will return.” Searle, whileexamining the corpses of the Icarus I crew, says that from what humans are created from and to what they returnto, the lifecycle of humans is “ashes to ashes, stardust to stardust.” Later, as Searle sacrifices himself to staybehind on the Icarus I, he says “we’re only stardust.” When Capa asks who Pinbacker is upon seeing him for thefirst time, Pinbacker says “At the end of time, a moment will come when just one man remains. And the momentwill pass. The man will be gone. There will be nothing to show that we [the entire human race] were ever here,but stardust,” from Sunshine, Blu-ray, directed by Danny Boyle.
  • 42cluster terms appear to be mostly implicit throughout the artifact, so it is difficult to discernwhether or not the filmmakers were actually trying to get their personal ideas across throughthe movie. A deeper look at two interviews with the director, however, might clear theambiguity found in these questions. A notable aspect of examining the filmmaker’s intentions is looking at what are theiractual beliefs. Thankfully, because of the recentness of the movie, various interviews areaccessible where Danny Boyle voices his beliefs, giving insight to the potential messagesbehind the movie; unfortunately, screenwriter Alex Garland is absent from these interviews.The first major point that needs to be made is in regards to Boyle’s spiritual beliefs. He says “Iwas brought up a very strict Catholic and I don’t practice anymore or anything. I . . . callmyself an atheist.”115 This is an interesting quote coming from a director who made a moviewith such spiritual and metaphysical implications—implications that, after the artifact has beenthoroughly analyzed, might be more relevant to the director than he thinks. Although Boyle does consider himself an atheist, it appears that he does still believe ina being larger than life. In another interview, Boyle was quoted saying There’s a bit of that [metaphysical elements] in there, yeah. They see something out there that’s not entirely natural. Something much bigger than we could ever [comprehend]. You [have to] realize how narrow our thinking is, normally. You’ve got to image that there might be something else out there that’s much bigger and wider than we think.116It appears that, despite his atheist beliefs, he still does believe in something preternatural, aforce and power greater than just humankind. Perhaps Boyle was trying to portray his ownbeliefs in Sunshine, albeit uncertain himself of what exactly he believes. The possibility exists 115 Kolan, “Interview: Danny Boyle,” IGN, March 14, 2007. 116 Loder, “Danny Boyle’s Space Odyssey,”http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1564535/20070711/story.jhtml (accessed May 19, 2010).
  • 43that Boyle was not only trying to make a movie for narrative’s sake, but in addition trying toweave in his own worldview that he might be unsure of the existence of God, but that there issomething great and powerful beyond the realm of nature. Cluster criticism is a valuable methodology to use to uncover the hidden messages ofrhetors. It was put to use in Sunshine by revealing key terms and their surrounding clusters toobserve frequent and powerful terms to shed light on the worldviews of the artifact’s creators.Looking at key terms such as “light,” “darkness,” “eyes,” “hot and cold,” “rejuvenation,” and“the comparison between big and small,” a critic will reveal that the film is much more thanjust a narrative story; it is an immensely spiritual journey that asks the existential questions ofwhat lies beyond this life and what greater powers are there beyond human existence. Byfilling Sunshine with these recurring imagery and narrative elements, it seems they thefilmmakers, just like the crew of the Icarus II, are uncertain of what lies beyond this life.Nevertheless, the paper argues to show that the filmmakers subliminally believe that there is abright light of something much bigger than they could ever imagine, a brightness that has thepower to destroy darkness, to restore life, and even though implicit throughout the movie, alight that points almost indisputably towards the God of creation.
  • 44 APPENDIX A Screen shots of Sunshine in reference to the “Light” section of application.Figure 1. The shot of the sun on the horizon, starting as a small dot and morphing into a huge, omniscient presence as can be seen below in Figure 2. Figure 2. 44
  • 45Figure 3. Image of Captain Kaneda looking at the sun through the observation rooms filter. Figure 4. Searle looking into the sun through the filter.
  • 46 Figure 5. The psychology room, bathed in white light.Figure 6. Light shines into the observation room. Captain Pinbacker can be seen lying down, his thin silhouette just to the right of Capas arm.
  • 47Figure 7. Capa reaches into the sun, his face blurred in the background. .
  • 48 APPENDIX B Screen shots of Sunshine in reference to the “Darkness” section of application. Figure 1. Shot of the Icarus II, barely lit up by external light, black encompassing most of the frame.Figure 2. A separate shot later in the movie, almost identical to Figure 1, but such a reoccurrence solidifies the fact that darkness is a key term.
  • 49Figure 3. Cassie hides in the darkness to escape Pinbacker, who is trying to murder her.
  • 50 APPENDIX C Screen shots of Sunshine in reference to the “Eyes and Sight” section of application.Figure 1. Here, the Icarus II spaceship acts as the pupil (black inner circle), while the sun acts as the iris (colored part of the eye; here, the white surrounding the black circle). Put together, it appears as if a giant eye were created out of the sun and spaceship. Figure 2. Close-up of Searle looking into the sun.
  • 51Figure 3. Extreme close-up of Kaneda’s eye, i.e. an object filling up the entire frame. up Figure 4. Close Close-up of Pinbackers eyes on a computer monitor.
  • 52 Figure 5. Close-up on Capas eye as he decides the course of the mission. upFigure 6. Kaneda watches his fate through his helmet, which reflects the sunlight back at the . camera.
  • 53Figure 7. Pinbacker looks through a window into the airlock, obscured from the frenetic style of the sequence.
  • 54 APPENDIX DScreen shots of Sunshine in reference to the “Hot and Cold” section of application. Figure 1. A shot of the Earth frozen over. Figure 2. Capas nightmare as he falls into the sun, dying from the heat.
  • 55Figure 3. Snowfall in Sydney, Australia, in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
  • 56 APPENDIX E Screen shots of Sunshine in reference to the “Rejuvenation” section of application. Figure 1. The oxygen garden. Water can be seen in the foreground, and if inspected closelyenough a small waterfall flows from above, which is more visible in the movie as the shot is in motion. Figure 2. Mace watches the waves as a means of calming himself.
  • 57Figure 3. Corazon inspec inspecting the plant revive itself.
  • 58 APPENDIX FScreen shots of Sunshine in reference to the “The Comparison between Big and Small” section “The Small of application.Figure 1. The crew gathers in the observation room as they pass by Mercury, which can be seen as the small dot in the center of the frame.Figure 2. Kaneda, Capa, and their gear are circled in white, barely noticeable against the giant backdrop of the Icarus II.
  • 59 APPENDIX G Screen shots of Sunshine in reference to the “ “Implications of Light” section of application. ”Figure 1. Sunlight reflected into the oxygen garden causes a life threatening fire to everyone on life-threatening board.
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