Quick Summary: Set in an international school in Jakarta Indonesia during the final class for philosophy, the teacher decides to test his students with a challenging thought experiment. The twenty students must put themselves in the aftermath of a nuclear blast, the bombs just beginning to drop. Luckily there is a bunker with food, air, and supplies for one year. Unluckily there is only enough for ten people, the other eleven (teacher included in the experiment) must be doomed to death. Each student is randomly assigned a career: organic farmer, housekeeper, carpenter, opera singer, etc. Three different scenarios are played out during the duration of the class, the students having to choose who lives and who dies in this hypothetical apocalypse.
During the film we are transported between the reality of the classroom and the projection of the project that the students are discussion with their teacher. It is very beautiful with the scenery, the bunker itself, and the transitions between the two. The students are a realistic mix of people: there are those who find the experiment disturbing, some jump in with gusto, and each has their own opinion on how the selection process should happen. Through the film some students are shown more then others, either due to their roles being chosen to be saved or because of conflict of morals or interests through the scenarios. Though only a couple of them actually seem to get some depth, so sadly you don’t really get an emotional connection with any of them through the film. The teacher himself seems to enjoy pushing his students into this difficult thought experiment, challenging them, questioning them, as a normal philosophy teacher should. He seems like a normal teacher until the experiment goes on longer and all the sudden he seems more like an evil nemesis then trying to actually help the students through this project.
Jumping back a bit, the choices the students have to make in and out of the bunker are thought provoking. If you had one of the more favorable attributes, who would you choose to go forth to death? If you had a questionable job, how would you fight to save yourself-or would you even try given who was around you? How do gender balances make a play for reproduction, how would the personalities be able to handle each other inside together for a whole year? Good things that make you want to watch the film to see if your own choices go along with the classroom. The first play through is mostly about survival, while the second focuses more on rebuilding the human race through babies, and the third…well I will get to that in a moment. So in the first two, very different choices are made, especially since the second go around you learn one more fact about each persons ‘character’ that could change who dies and who lives.
So the third section, it sort of takes a sudden turn and all the philosophy that had been playing out kind of gets lost under building and sometimes sudden emotion and underlying games. The teacher throughout the movie seems to put himself in a high role of importance and set differently from the other characters. It comes off as narcissistic and unneeded. Sometimes he comes off as cliche as his role as a teacher, though his actual acting is really good. I personally became frustrated at the end of the film because I felt like it changed its own role and went in a very different direction then what we had been sharing thus far. The end seemed a bit jumbled, stretched, and mishmashed together. A lot of the underlying messages and tensions are finally revealed (though not too surprising), and then it just sort of seems to drag on for a bit until finally ending. After a little over two hours given to this film, I felt like the rug was pulled out a bit at the end.
I digress, the first two parts of the film are really worth watching if you like thinking of that type of situation, and if you don’t mind it pulling away from the philosophical stand point the film had been doing in the end to be more emotional (etc), then you may enjoy it in its entirety. Though none of the acting (with the exception of a select few) are really all that great, the students reactions are interesting, the locations of the apocalypse are beautiful, and it makes one think.
Overall rating 3/5.