Quantum suicide: Third Contact by Simon Horrocks

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Third Contact Earlier this month, I received a screener of Third Contact, a small-budget British feature film by writer/director Simon Horrocks. Last week I posted this short review of the film to Filmometer.com:

Psychological thriller explores madness, depression, quantum suicide and immortality. It’s a dark, puzzling poem. 7/10

But there is much more to say. Third Contact is an intelligent film noir that touches on intriguing and disturbing metaphysical ideas. Simon Horrocks describes his movie as “a new independent film that takes you on a mind-blowing existential trip.” It stars Tim Scott-Walker, Jannica Olin, Oliver Browne and Virginia Popova.

Interpretations of quantum mechanics

What does it mean to die, in the quantum sense? Does a many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics ensure immortality of the conscious mind? Hugh Everett’s many-worlds implies that all possible alternative histories and futures are real but separate universes, existing forever in space and time.

One popular way to describe how simultaneous life/death works is the quantum-mechanical Schrödinger’s cat paradox. In this thought experiment, every event is a branch point; the cat is both alive and dead, even before the box is opened, but the “alive” and “dead” cats are in different branches of the universe, both of which are equally real, but which cannot interact with each other. You can die in one universe and still be simultaneously alive in an infinite number of alternate universes.

Similarly, if your conscious mind is unable to witness its own death, then, from your own perspective, your death never actually happens. Your conscious mind just goes on existing, perhaps in its time-restricted region of space (assuming time is linear and continues to constrain non-corporeal beings for some reason). It seems fair to assume that the moment of death cannot be experienced by a living consciousness—and therefore death is unknowable and irrelevant to a being’s continued existence. This gives interpretations of quantum mechanics quite a spiritual allure.

As an aside, I am particularly fascinated by Michael Talbot’s idea of a holographic universe, which explores the metaphysical implications of quantum mechanics and suggests that the physical universe is akin to a giant hologram. Talbot theorizes that ESP, premonitions, telepathy and paranormal phenomena are real and observable due to our holographic reality. Perhaps it is our tangible reality that is the illusion. (See also: holonomic brain theory.)

Third Contact stills Quantum suicide cinema

But let’s get back to the movie I’m supposed to be reviewing. The independent film Third Contact, produced by Simon Horrocks, wades into the concepts of quantum suicide and parallel universes. The film stars Tim Scott-Walker as Dr. David Wright, an emotionally unstable psychotherapist who encounters a mysterious pattern of suicides in London. People are leaving behind lists of memories, which could be interpreted as “destinations” to past moments of their lives. In death, are these individuals time-traveling to happier times? Having already lost the love of his life—and with his patients committing suicide—a distraught Dr. Wright struggles to decipher the nature of these deaths as he spirals into the unknown, toward probable doom.

The following is Simon’s description of Third Contact from thirdcontactmovie.com:

Shadows fill my noir. Light intrudes. Touches the edges of things. Blinds a man, who becomes hopelessly lost in my dark world. He becomes used to the dark and begins to see the unseeable – ghosts. He tries to film them. To capture them and preserve them like dead butterflies on a board. But you cannot capture a moment in time, he finds, any more than you can grasp a soap bubble.

London to me is a city of ghosts. My ghosts are not of old creaking mansions and rusting suits of armour. They are urban ghosts, haunting the London that I know, that I live in, now. I walk the same streets I walked 30 years ago – a teenager wondering what life would bring. Sometimes I think I might catch a glimpse of myself, as I was then. A young man full of wonder and first love and cheap cider.

Dr. David Wright’s emotional torment now prevents him from functioning as a therapist. The woman he has loved has vanished from his life ‘forever’. Rene Maurer, one of his regular patients, has died – an apparent suicide. Rene’s sister, Erika, traveling to London to sort out his things, discovers something curious – his apartment is almost empty. A cup, a spoon, a fork, a knife, frames without pictures, torn photos… One more curiosity – a list of memories. Four dated descriptions of moments in Rene’s life.

Another patient dies. Another list of memories. There’s something strange going on. Something sinister behind these ’suicides’…

This intimate sci-fi film inspires reflection and poses weighty questions about life and death. Fans of directors like David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky, Richard Kelly, Vincenzo Natali and Duncan Jones ought to enjoy Third Contact’s open-ended, philosophical and conspiratorial nature—though don’t expect Hollywood-quality production values or Oscar-worthy performances from this low-budget feature. Overall, it holds together very well and stands as an impressive first film. I expect great things from Simon Horrocks in the future.

Watch the Third Contact teaser and the full Third Contact trailer.

You can learn more about Third Contact at thirdcontactmovie.com, and on Facebook and Twitter. SF-Fandom has also posted a press kit interview with Simon and production stills. Help spread the word about this interesting independent film. Thanks to Simon for providing the screener.

Vote for Third Contact

Lastly, Third Contact is one of nine films currently on the ballot of the Manhattan Film Festival online competition. The winning film will be shown at MFF 2012, which runs from June 21 to July 1. You can check out the entries and cast your vote between June 1-7.

Similar posts that may be of interest:
    None Found