Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Genre Character of the Week: Sam Bell

Let's try a quick experiment - Imagine that wherever you are reading this post (your house, office, or elsewhere) had no one in it except for you. If you're like me it means you would suddenly be alone in your house. If your reading this at work or in a public space like a library, it means a certain sense of isolation. Now imagine that you are the only person in your city, your country, your world. That is the situation astronaut Sam Bell lives in for a three-year contract in the film Moon.

Sam is working for a company called Lunar Industries which has found a cheaper, easier fuel for Earth - Helium 3. This fuel can be mined on the moon and shipped back to Earth at a reasonable cost, but someone needs to keep an eye on things. Enter Sam Bell - he's married, has a new daughter, and is currently finishing up his three-year contract to be the guy who keeps an eye on the mining process. The main problem - the base has a crew of one. It's just Sam and a helpful computer called GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey).

Like a Lighthouse operator, or Desmond from the second season of Lost (sorry if that is still considered a spoiler), Sam has a routine, a way in which he self motivates and can function in this strange and lonely environment. He sends and receives videos from his family, he makes models, he's found a way to adjust. Then he hits his last couple weeks before he gets to go home and things start going strange.

Without going into spoilers, what I like about Sam (played wonderfully by Sam Rockwell), is his ability to function in a difficult place. A little bit like Sam, I work in an isolated work environment - I run a one-person library, so I'm the only staff and for those stretches of time when I don't have library patrons, it can feel a little isolating. My job does require me to work certain tasks on a specific schedule and a call from my wife or a friend can definitely brighten my day.

For those of you who haven't got around to seeing this film yet - check it out. I'll be owning it pretty soon and a big part of that choice is the character of Sam Bell (pictured above).

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