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Movies – Real World vs. Virtual/ Fantasy World

2009 April 14
by ppais

Note: I had started this yesterday evening but didn’t get around to finishing it so this is along the lines of Simran’s post.

Alex’s comment on treating her life as a video game led me to think of the intersection of the real world and virtual worlds, which in turn reminded me of the 1999 movie The Thirteenth Floor that I watched. In it, a team of scientists have spent six years developing a virtual world resembling 1930s L.A. They are able to load themselves into the system and assume the identities of regular people living in the 1930s, being able to walk around, talk, experience emotions. I love the complexity of the questions the movie deals with. E.g. What happens if a simulation, that doesn’t know it’s a simulation, finds out the truth? If the people in the simulation are ‘real’ i.e. if they can think and experience emotions just like actual humans, what gives us the right to ‘play god’ by downloading into their world and messing up their lives? The BIG question – how do you know if you’re a simulation or not??
Here’s a link to the trailer on YouTube.

Another movie to mention (I always seem to find movie examples yet I don’t really watch television while at college – weird!) is Passion of Mind released in 2000 and starring Demi Moore. As Marie, a widow in France, she dreams of Marty, an executive in New York, when she sleeps. Marty also dreams of Marie when Marty goes to sleep. The line separating fantasy and reality gets blurred when she can’t tell whether she is actually Marie or Marty and the other person is only a dream. Again – how do you tell what is real and what isn’t?

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