Director Duncan Jones, whose first film "Moon" gave us cause to question the nature of humanity in a scientifically-manipulated universe, brings us "Source Code", a film that pushes the conceptual boundaries of sci-fi within the typically rigid standards of an action thriller. Through the use of quantum physics, string theory, and something called "parabolic calculus", military pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is somehow transported back in time to a catastrophic event in the hopes that he might help authorities avert a second event from happening. His mind is transferred to the brain of one of the victims, for, as explained, whenever someone dies, the last 8 minutes of their life are trapped within the brain like a recording, and through the use of parabolic calculus, we are allowed access to that recording, to view it and play with it as if it were some sort of full immersion video game. Strangely though, while Colter knows his death (every 8 minutes) is inevitable, he continues to try and stop the event from occuring. Now here's where it gets strange: Colter becomes convinced that each time he travels back in time, he's not just living in the source code but is actually creating an entirely new universe, where parallel people lead parallel lives. But while Colter's mind goes back in time, where exactly is his body? Source Code tackles a couple of interesting subjects within the sci-fi spectrum: are there infinite universes, and just where does human indentity begin and end?
It almost stands to reason that there are multiple universes. There is no ultimate distance one can travel through space and there is no final time one can wait until. In the grand scheme of things, space and time are abstract concepts created to give the human mind something with which to rationalize and compartmentalize infinity. However, if space and time truly are infinite, then all things possible have and will happen an infinite number of times. This, by definition, is infinity. The case for parallel universes or string theory need not be pleaded. We have been born and will continue to die in a never-ending stream of existence, as impossible as it sounds. Is it possible to meet an alternative "you" in some other existing universe? I don't know, but if it is possible, it's happened an infinite amount of times. Everyone has gone hang-gliding an infinite amount of times, everyone has eaten a pear an infinite amount of times. Everyone's died in a car accident an infinite amount of times. If ever in your life you've come upon a pivotal moment, one which changed your destiny forever, it has been taken and re-taken to infinity. Maybe there's something comforting in the knowledge we are all eternal.
I was watching a documentary about a two-headed baby that was born in Egypt, and the operation the doctors were going to attempt in an effort to remove the extra head. The technical term was "craniopagus parasiticus", and in fact, the 2nd head was actually an undeveloped twin. The two babies were joined at the brain by a major artery, and the "head" or 2nd twin was living parasitically off the first. It had no body to speak of, no lungs, no heart, no throat with which to cry, just a face and a brain. The doctors treated the 2nd twin as if it weren't alive, just a mass of reflexive tissue because I imagine the alternative was just too horrific to imagine: to live the duration of your miserable life as a pair of eyes floating on the back of someone's head, amputated like a tumor, extinguished like some inconsequental growth. They said the last time a child like this was born was 200-and-something years ago, and the child was sent to live in the circus. It died at the age of four, from a snake bite rather than any complications from it's condition. And so what is life and what is existence in the face of such things? Are we merely pieces of flesh to be manipulated by scientists, or is there something beyond what we can understand at this point?
But anyway, I was telling you about Source Code. If "Moon" seemed to borrow from "2001: A Space Odyssey", Source Code owes its inspiration to, if anything, "12 Monkeys", both in terms of theme and style. Like in that movie, Colter Stevens loses himself in his exploration of time and space. But whereas the conflict of 12 Monkeys is the loss of one's identity, in Source Code that loss amounts to some bit of blissful oblivion (I guess when the alternative is oblivion, one will gladly trade his very being in for a new one). Source Code allows that in the face of infinity, all endings can be happy endings. I'm sure in some alternate universe, the "craniopagus parasiticus" twins are living quiet, unremarkable lives.