So C got back from her interview at Oxford, which apparently went well and we talked about going out for a meal but then decided that we would go and see Eye in the Sky and, if I’m honest, I wasn’t massively enthused about it. I watched the trailer while making tea and I sort of thought it’d be some kind of action movie, but it isn’t. In fact for a lot of it I rather had the feeling that I get when I’m at the theatre and watching something that has weight to it, that feeling of really being drawn into it as if I’m in the action myself.
At the heart of the film is that classic ethical dilemma between utilitarian ethics on one hand and Kantian ethics on the other: Do you sacrifice the life of an innocent person to save many other lives or is that immoral and the moral action is to accept that the terrorists are going to kill many innocent people, but you are in no way morally responsible for their actions. Stopping the attack is morally praiseworthy but not morally obligatory.
The thing I love about this film is that it does what the best Greek tragedy does: it doesn’t solve the dilemma, or rather it accepts that the dilemma cannot be definitively resolved and so it doesn’t come down on one side or the other; it’s happy to let you walk out in a state of confusion. When you’ve seen Antigone you’re left wondering if Creon was right or if Antigone is right: should the law be followed because it is the law or is disobedience of the law morally right when the law is morally wrong?
Also I love the centrality of law to the film, there are endless legal discussions, of course, but I found it interesting how the film emphasises that the law exists to protect us and, ideally, it is law that rules not human caprice.
The other thing I really like about this film is more personal. The other day I was watching Greece: The Greatest Show on Earth being a bit of a classicist, and I remembered the link between the Athenian destruction of Melos in the Peloponnesian war and Euripides’ The Trojan Women and I had one of those moments when I noted, with satisfaction, the continuation of the cultural tradition of drama as critique even after two and half millennia. It’s nice to see that democracy and drama are still inextricably linked and that drama can serve as more than just entertainment or art for art’s sake.
Naturally the moment I got out of the cinema I was on my phone pre-ordering a copy of it.