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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

DVD: Sunshine 

Early in Sunshine, a scientist on board a ship headed for the sun sits in his cabin, basking in the glow of sunlight. The sun is close enough to make out its shape and the texture of its surface, but not so close that the pure brightness of it overwhelms the senses. The scientist sits in justifiable awe for a moment, and then asks the ship’s computer what percentage of the sun’s full power he’s seeing.

“Two percent,” it tells him. It then tells him that showing just 3.4% of the sun’s power at this range would permanently blind him.

The scientist, caught in something like religious fervor, slips on a pair of sunglasses and asks to be hit with 3.1%. Just for thirty seconds. The white light surrounds him, burns him, cleanses him—as the character more or less says later, the sun’s light and power envelopes him. It’s simply that overwhelming, and the awe transfers to us: It’s one brief glimpse of the sheer power and scale of the universe we inhabit. The scientist can be nothing but humbled. This is Sunshine in its best moments.

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