Five Favorite Films with David S. Goyer
The writer/director of The Unborn also talks dybbuks, twins and Jewish mysticism.
RT: Your characters talk about how the idea of demons --
DG: Predates organized religion. Well, they would. I always thought it was funny that you'd hold up a cross and Dracula would shy away from it, because it seems to me that evil isn't Jewish or Muslim or Christian. In fact, I had a character say that in the film.
RT: There's also the idea in the movie that younger generations are detached from their heritage, that Casey not only doesn't practice the Jewish faith but also is unaware of the dybbuk that has cursed her family for generations.
DG: Well, it's a subtext. They're detached from their lineage, they're detached from their heritage, they're detached from their families, and that makes them more vulnerable, because there's not as much of a sense of community. It's all subtext, but it's in there, yeah. Absolutely.
RT: What about Holocaust survivor's guilt, and the idea that Casey now becomes responsible for setting right things that began so long ago?
DG: Well, I could make a joke about Jewish guilt, but yeah, that's in there a little bit too. The grandmother has survivor's guilt, and she unintentionally passes it along to her daughter, who does the same to her granddaughter. I think there's this sense that in reality, whether it's genetics or learned behavior, that generations tend to pass these things on to successive generations, and whether we know it or not, we're often dealing with things that happened three or four generations prior to us. Hopefully, people will watch the movie and it'll make them think about these things in different ways.
RT: Another underlying theme that persisted for me was the question of whether this is a pro-life or pro-choice film.
DG: It isn't meant to be either. I mean, you know, it's funny that a very small percentage of the audience when we were testing it -- we're talking three or four people out of 500 -- would say either "this is a pro-choice film" or "this is a pro-life film." It's not really either, and I don't mean to make an overt political statement there. Obviously, people are going to imbue it with whatever their specific belief is, but in the same way, some people were saying that The Dark Knight was a Republican apology, and some were saying it was an anti-Bush film. Both sides were sort of claiming it for their own.
RT: Well, I think you're in the clear, because at different times I thought it could possibly be either a pro-life or a pro-choice film.
DG: I try to walk that very thin line, so good.
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