Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blog #65 - Questions about the Source Code

We talked a lot about the film, Source Code, and how it relates to Plato's Allegory of the Cave.  I don't know if it's a perfect fit, but what is?  I think further research is needed for this topic and if you guys can find it pertaining to the film and Plato, that would be great (don't forget to read the illustrated handout for more details). 

The film opens up some questions about fate that I don't think it really answered or that we really touched upon too much.  When Capt. Stevens kept being pulled out of the SC and back into his "capsule," he saw these glimpses - call them deja vu, precognition, whatever - of himself and Christina at Chicago's Millenium Park and the big chrome bean.  These scenes occurred even before he felt like saving anybody on the train or understood his situation - as if he was headed towards that future "alternate universe" no matter happened.  Could it be that every obstacle that Stevens ran into (or literally ran into him - see below!) kept him moving towards that inexorable future? 

What about the morality of using Capt. Stevens as a lab rat for the Source Code?  It's obvious by the end of the movie that he's in a terrible state of physical trauma, and that only his mind is the most complete and functioning part of him.  At points in the film, it appeared that Dr. Rutledge was "torturing" Stevens by sending him back into the memories of Sean Fentress only to be blown up again and again.  We did mention that Capt. Stevens, as a member of the U.S. military, most likely, had signed away his rights to do with his remains as his parents wished.  However, it is hard to imagine a father wishing this for his son.  And by the end of the film, if it has reset and everything starts anew, Capt. Stevens will continue to be used further in the GWOT (global war on terror). 

Lastly, how do you explain the ending?  Goodwin and Rutledge have no knowledge of the previous day's events (if those events even occurred - but they had to have existed somewhere, b/c Stevens sent her the email - it came from somewhere, sometime, right?).  And at the end of the movie, it looked as if the whole day had been reset, Capt. Stevens was alive and in his previous "state of being," in addition to the bomber being caught and the initial train bombing never having occurred. 

Questions to choose from:
1. How could the filmmakers have changed the film to make it more or less like Plato's cave?  Explain your reasoning. 
2.  What role did fate play in this movie?  Why?  Or, did fate play no role at all and why not? 
3.  Did the military cross the line with the use of Capt. Stevens' body and mind for the Source Code?  Why or why not? 
4.  Is the ending a new "movie reality" (for lack of a better term)?  Why or why not?  Is it possible that Stevens' determination somehow merged the alternate universe with the movie's original reality? 

Pick one of the following questions and answer it as fully as you can.  Stay in the nuances of the question as long as you can.  Your response should be a minimum of 250 words and is due Thursday, December 18 before class begins. 

Online articles to check out if you have time:
"Here I Am: The Identity Philosophy of SC" - http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/opinions/here-i-am-the-identity-philosophy-of-source-code.php
"Who is Sean Fentress?: A (Completely Serious) Exploration of What Happened After the End of Source Code" - http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/opinions/what-happened-after-the-ending-of-source-code.php


  1. Fate played somewhat of a role in Source Code because Stevens’ situation was partly fate and partly free will. He was set in his mission and ending, but he also had the choice of whether or not to comply with the program and save more than just the bomber. Stevens had a set fate of death right from the initiation of the source code. Goodwin and Rutledge knew they were going to terminate his life once the source code was over. His fate was working with the source code program and they kept him alive for that very reason. His job was to find who the bomber is and prevent any other bombings in Chicago, and after the mission was over they no longer needed Stevens. Sean Fentress’ fate was already sealed from the beginning; he was going to die with the train bombing, and Stevens took his place, so Fentress didn’t have any choice at his fate.
    Stevens did also have a choice in the end of whether or not he would die and save Christina or have his memory erased and have many lives lost. He made the choice to go back and save those on the train and prevent bombing the last time. This was the biggest choice all movie because it really determined how his future unfolded and whether or not others survived too.
    Fate played a huge role in Source Code because not only was Fentress’ fate sealed as Stevens’ replacement, it also determined how Stevens’ future unfolded too. It was a blend of both fate and free will in the Source Code program.
    Grace MacDonald 1st Hour

  2. Personally, I don’t think the movies ending was a new ‘movie reality.’ I feel like the ending of the movie only ruined the whole thing and created possible plot holes. Every time Dr. Rutledge sent Captain Stevens back into Source Code, the only way Captain Stevens could relay what happened in that alternate universe was to come back to the original universe and tell them. Therefore I feel as if cross communication between universes is not possible in this movie which rules out the ending of Captain Stevens actually emailing Goodwin from another universe to the original. I can see how Stevens’ determination could create an alternate universe but I feel like that alternate universe would only be in his head and not actually be another alternate universe entirely. If the ending shows that a new ‘movie reality’ was created I feel that it wasn’t physically created but only stayed in his mind. All the other times that Captain Stevens was sent into Source Code and came back, I believe he left a universe he had accidentally created. All those times he went into Source Code he only created another alternate universe that held another him on a bombed train. I don’t, however think that Captain Stevens emailed Goodwin from the last universe he created to another ‘newer’ one where the bombing had just happened. If what was shown (Goodwin receiving an email from a different Captain Stevens) really did happen, then Captain Stevens had created that universe inside the universe he last ended up in. This to me seems to be the only ‘logical’ way Stevens could have ‘sent’ that email to Goodwin from another universe. His ‘determination’ was so strong that he created a ‘fake universe’ inside the one he already is in so that he could allow himself some reassurance that he can possibly save the train again and again. Basically, Stevens didn’t create an entirely new ‘physical’ universe, to me he only ended up creating one in his own mind. I might even call him delusional.

  3. Did the military cross the line with the use of Captain Stevens' body and mind? Uh yes, they did not just cross it, they catapulted themselves passed the line. Captain Stevens served his country with honor and he was treated as a puppet during the source code. The doctor and militaries rationale for doing so was that almost all of the soldiers would gladly serve their country in any way possible to evade death. Captain Stevens, as honorable and admirably as can be, wanted to die. Stevens chose death but that option was not granted to him at the start. Goodwin was the only military officer who did not cross the line. She did her job but also protected him. Stevens wanted to die after he found the bomber. The doctor agreed to his terms. After Stevens was successful in the mission, the doctor wanted to erase his memory and use him for future attacks. That is crossing the line, the source code program as a whole is not but the actions of those responsible were. Also though, Stevens crossed the line in terms of other peoples’ privacy. Although it was supposedly only an eight minute simulation, Stevens relentlessly attacked civilians and searched through their belongings. All in all, everyone crosses lines. Since it was a movie and not real life, I do not know if there is anything out there like the source code. If it is then that is just another way for the government to do their actions “justly” but that’s a whole other blog. I do not want to see people die but you cannot change the past nor do I think you should be able to interfere with it. The source code did just that which crossed the line of right and wrong.
    Jeremy Ellis (Publius)

  4. In Source Code, I believe fate had a large part to play in the movie. The entire movie was dealing with the fate of Chicago, with the fate of the people on the train, and the fate of Cap. Stevens. While Capt. Stevens went back, he constantly thought about the fates of the people on the train rather than the second attack he was supposed to prevent. He wanted to save the passengers lives, even though their lives were burnt out by the act of fate that the bomber had placed in the train itself, the bomb (In that respect, I do believe that Capt. Stevens went to an alternate dimension each time he was sent back, therefore ‘creating’ different fates). Therefore, I would think that fate was actually a driving force in Source Code because of the main characters driving beliefs of wanting to change it. His beliefs caused the passengers fates to be shifted countable times each time he went back. Fate, however, is hard to point out, so one could argue that fate had no role in the film, but I would say otherwise. It could be said that fate is the only reason SC could even exist, because without it there wouldn't be any dimensions to change, no fates to shift (string theory). Fate is therefore the main purpose of this film in my eyes, with Capt. Stevens’ will to change fate and the drive to do so. The outcome of the movie is a result of this.
    - Grace N.

  5. I believe the ending to The Source Code was a ‘movie reality’, for a few reasons. I think that the whole idea of Captain Colter Stevens surviving in as Sean in an alternate reality could be realistic, if it wasn’t for the email that Stevens sent Goodwin at the end. The email is what ruined it for me, because earlier in the film, when Stevens tried (and failed) to call Dr. Rutledge, it was specifically stated that one can’t communicate between alternate realities. I think that Stevens did act as a connector/portal between Goodwin’s reality and the source code reality, but only when Stevens’ brain was alive so Goodwin could send him back and forth. I don’t think it’s possible that his determination could have merged the two realities. All science could do was create a ‘portal’ between them. Once Stevens passed on to the source code reality, the ‘portal’ closed, and he shouldn’t have been able to communicate at all with the other reality, making it impossible for him to email Goodwin. I think the writers of this movie wanted to show the audience that there are multiple realities, including the one in which the source code project hasn’t even started yet. The only way to make that clear to the audience would be to add the email at the end, so I guess I can understand why it was done, but it technically doesn’t make sense.

  6. Fate played a minor role in Captain Stevens’ mission under Beleagured Castle. Although at the beginning of the film we did not know of this information, we later found out that Captain Stevens was basically in a coma and only his brain could communicate through the “source code” system. He had to put his trust in Goodwin and Rutledge while completing his mission. He kept getting distracted with discovering more information about himself and his “death”, yet Goodwin wouldn’t reveal much information to him. His fate was in the hands of Beleagured Castle because he [theoretically] had no control over whether or not he was to complete the mission. Free-will was present more so throughout the movie. In this example, Stevens had the choice of death or completing the mission as a final service to his country, yet he chose to complete the mission. This also could have been fate and a destiny of Stevens because of the illusions of him and Christina at the bean in Chicago, that he sees while traveling through source code . These illusions were foreshadowing his final destiny of ending up with her. Stevens also had several opportunities of free will inside the Source Code. He looked up himself using Christina’s internet, made peace with his father via a phone call, and emailed Goodwin, to name a few, which all were deviations from his mission and goal. All of these deviations, however, led him to becoming more immersed in the alter-reality within the source code, and led him to his fate of being with Christina.

  7. I think there was a combination of fate and freewill when it came to Captain Stevens and his role/performance in the source code.
    1. Captain Stevens was chosen for this source code mission by somewhat of a "higher power", the government/military. He had no say in being chosen and he had no choice but to perform and protect his country.
    2. Captain Stevens meeting Christina was also fate. He saw in the beginning of his source code mission a "flash-forward" of him and Christina in front of the Bean at Chicago's Millennium Park. The military didn't plan this source code mission for Stevens and Christina to meet and develop a relationship, but somehow Stevens saw, from the beginning, a future with Christina. They would end up together, even if he was in Sean Fentress' body. They were meant to meet.
    1. Captain Stevens had no say in being a part of the source code, but he did have say in whether or not he would go back into the source code a last time and attempt to save the passengers of the train. Captain Stevens did as he wanted and went back a final time and successfully saved Christina and the rest of the passengers, he stopped not only the second bombing attack but also the first. He went beyond his duties of source code, that was his freewill.
    I also think there was some chance in this film...
    It was complete chance that Captain Stevens' brain waves, weight, and other physical characteristics matched up to Sean Fentress.

  8. Throughout the whole movie we saw Captain Stevens go in and out of an eight minute period in time to compete a mission. Where he was being sent was not an alternate reality, but a replay of an even that happened earlier in time. The ending of the movie for me was a normal hollywood ending with nothing substantial to it. The main character gets the girl, they live happily ever after, but at the expense of everything the movie stood for. The one thing that kept being repeated over and over again to Captain Stevens was that this is not a different reality but a moment in time. When Captain Stevens goes in for the seemingly last time he does it because he wants to save everyone, and Goodwin lets him because she feels bad for him. The ending that made the universe where Captain Stevens is Captain Stevens (only universe), and the one where he is in source code cannot intertwine because they are the same thing. It doesn't matter how badly Stevens wanted the two worlds to collide because it's just impossible. One could have all the determination in the world but that doesn't mean that they can defy physics. When Goodwin receives the email from Stevens is when the movie completely lost me as a fan. Then when she walked into the other room while simultaneously reading the letter and seeing the real events being changed in her universe did not make any sense to me whatsoever. There are so many questions that go through my mind during this scene that the movie does not have any answers for... why is Goodwin the only one that knows the two realities? How could Captain Stevens possible send an email to Goodwin while in the source code? Why is he permanently in the source code? and when did the source code turn into this alternative reality where everything is perfect and he takes over another mans life? All and all I don't think that it is possible... sadly just a good movie ruined by a horrible ending filled with confusion and plot holes.


  9. Personally I believe that fate and free both have a role in each individual’s life. Believing in the freewill and fate combo means that you have control over your actions and where you end up but some things also happen for a reason.
    For example, is a homeless person really destined to live on the street? This individual had choices that they made to end up where they are. I believe that a majority of the Source Code was based off of freewill. However, fate also played a major role in the movie.
    Captain Stevens learns that he was killed in a helicopter crash while in combat in Afghanistan. His mind was then taken, to be experimented with, inside the Source Code. Was Captain Stevens’ pre-destined to end up trapped in a “capsule”? I believe that he made his own decisions that lead him to his death. He was not born destined to save people from a train bombing, as Sean Fentress, by traveling back to the past.
    I believe that fate saved Captain Stevens and brought him back to life as Sean Fentress. The Source Code was created to save lives by eliminating future terror attacks. The results of the Source Code were unknown and could have gone horribly. Instead, the terrorist was found, future lives were saved and Captain Stevens “took back” the first bombing, which was said to be impossible. The decision Goodwin made to send Captain Stevens back again, against Dr. Rutledge’s orders, saved his life. I don’t think he was always destined to live in an “alternate universe” with Cristina but I believe that his experiences, in the multiple trips he took back onto the train, created a goal to save everyone that kept him moving toward the future.

  10. The way I saw it the end of the movie was Captain Stevens being stuck inside the source code. This is because throughout the entire movie never did Captain Stevens return to the reality of Goodwin and Rutledge without having died while inside of the source code. I believe that Capt. Stevens was being put into the body of Sean Fentress using a computer assisted code that generated an alternate reality using the memories of Sean Fentress and the echo of consciousness left in the mind of Captain Stevens after his death. This I believe is the reason behind the flashbacks of Stevens at the stainless steel bean in Chicago with Christina. Those were memories of Sean Fentress whose body he had inhabited when he was thrown into the source code. I believe that because Captain Stevens never returned to the reality of the capsule because the eight minutes ran out that by Captain Stevens preventing the train explosion, he made a reality where there was no reason for Captain Stevens to be put into the Source code and because he did not die he was stuck in the body of Sean Fentress. Because the train did not explode Sean Fentress continued to live, his body that is, and was thus able to support the mind of Captain Stevens in the Source Code. Because of this phenomenon Sean Fentress is now without a mind. It’s a bit Voldemorty to think that Captain Stevens’ mind was able to replace and kick out the mind of Sean Fentress, and poses the question; where is Sean’s mind? (I think the pixies wrote a song about that). Perhaps Sean Fentress’ unconscious mind is stuck in the recesses of his brain just unable to obtain power over the mind of Captain Stevens.

  11. "Did the military cross the line with the use of Capt. Stevens' body and mind for the Source Code?"

    I definitely feel the military crossed a line in using Captain Stevens’ semi dead body (or whatever was left of it) for a scientific experiment. Right off the bat, one should be assume even if he did sign his body off to the military, it still contradicts with morality. I definitely think it was not the right thing to do for the military to just take his body, which is obviously in pain (and destroyed besides the brain) and turn it into a lab rat experiment. Throughout the movie, I kept thinking how even if Captain Stevens signed his body off to the military, there should still definitely be some way to exclude experimentation, because it is a kind of torture. Although the Doctor did say he would grant Stevens the wish of death, he didn’t do it until Stevens had found the bomber. If he hadn’t found the bomber, he could have been tortured and forced into the Source Code over and over again until who knows what could happen (?). Luckily for Stevens, he finds the bomber and is “granted” his wish of death, but then the Doctor denies his wish and tells Goodwin to erase his memory, which is TOTALLY not ok and was NOT a part of the deal. Stevens lost his body, and only had some of his brain remaining, yet he still wanted death. The one thing he wanted in the end was death, if he could just save all the people on the train. In the end, his body (and more importantly his mind) was used for a lab rat kind of experiment, and while he did what he was told, Stevens just wanted death and to save the train. But even then, after he did what they wanted, the Doctor wanted Stevens’ mind erased and for him to be used in other experiments. That is extremely inhumane and definitely uncalled for, making me conclude with the opinion that the military DEFINITELY crossed the line.

    Morgan Mattler

  12. Is the ending a new "movie reality" (for lack of a better term)? Why or why not? Is it possible that Stevens' determination somehow merged the alternate universe with the movie's original reality?
    I'm pretty sure the ending is a new movie reality. I really don't think it was good because a movie's ending should never leave the viewer with questions about plot unless they are planning on a sequel to tie up loose ends; and frankly I don't think this movie deserves a sequel because the plot was taken care of it was just the ending that messed it up. When Goodwin hit the button maybe it could have worked and Rutledge still could have been unaware but Good win should have lost memory too and not recieved the text. Like they could've shown the phone saying that the message failed to send- then it would have made more sense because Captain Stevens is in an alternate universe. Also the fact that he took over Sean Fentriss's body and now is "with" Christina is ridiculous. Sean Fentriss would have never died if the bomb was stopped, plus he know nothing about this man and Christina liked the teacher- she really doesn't even know CAPTAIN STEVENS. He's being really dishonest and he should be worried about the fact that no one he knew before is going to know him now. Is life worth living if loved ones aren't even accessible. I think the problem was the fact that Captain Stevens' brain had to be transported through the source code into another body. It should have been an outside person. Rutledge's explanation of the source code doesn't make sense either because if the brain waves or whatever are only active for eight minutes wouldn't they only have been able to do this for eight minutes. This ending upsets me more and more the more I consider it because there are literally countless holes. I guess the movie is trying to say he merged two realities but it makes no sense to me. A little side note about precognition- is that a real thing? Because I feel like it happens to me all the time. Like I call it Deja Vu but it isn't really Deja Vu because I haven't actually seen the things before I just remember them like a dream. It happened to me yesterday during AP French and I remembered the fact that I didn't know what I was seeing in a dream but then when it happened in real life it all made sense. It's funny though because whenever that happens in the dream I always have a reaction and I usually don't end up reacting in the same when when the true event happens. Like yesterday I was like what happens next? I start crying. But then I didn't cry even though I really wanted to because it was the next event. Anyway that's what those visions of the bean and Christina reminded me of.


  13. I think that fate played a minor role in the movie. We learned that Colter Stevens was a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan and died while on a mission. So when he died the Source Code gets his body and hooks it up to the machines that preserve his body. Then there's Sean Fentress who was on the bombed train, who has a similar body type as Stevens.
    Now onto the fate part, I believe that fate played a part in this movie because while Colter was in the source code he was trying to find out information about himself to see if he was dead or not and also he met this beautiful girl, Christina. And at the end of each "8 minute plunge" Stevens sees flashbacks or foreshadowing of him and her at Millennium Park staring at the bean. I believe the fate is coming through there because it shows that he has to end up with her somehow or someway, weather it's real or not we don't know. But the other role in the movie was free will. Stevens knew after a few times of going in the source code what his mission was and so he worked hard to find the bomb, and un-arm it. But the free will is when he wants to do the mission and also be with Christina. The only weird thing is that he sends the email to Goodwin. He sent it while he was still in the source code and then somehow it reached her in the modern world. So it makes us wonder if Stevens is in some new dimension or the same one, living under the name Sean Fentress?

    Jack Luyckx

  14. I saw Source Code back when it came out a couple of years ago, I had less of an idea of everything that went on in it then when I watched it now. However, even though I understand the events of the movie better now, it only makes me understand it less, if that makes sense.

    This isn't to say that Source Code is a bad movie (I thought it was a really good movie), but I liked when I watched it a couple years ago because I was able to take the ending at face value. Seeing it now, my mind goes in circles when I try and interpret the ending. The “movie reality” is that Stevens jettisoned himself off as Sean Fentress, while Steven’s actual body was ready to be used for future Source Code projects. Time has been reset and the bombing never happened. Everything is wonderful. Yay.

    I’m sorry, what? I felt that this contradicted some of the earlier points of the movie. I guess to try and understand it a bit better, I imagined the places as a large ocean liner on the sea. The military organization is the large ocean liner, with it’s own destination. I pictured the Source Code as a sort of lifeboat tied to the ship that could trail behind its wake and find information. The lifeboat could get hauled back in and thrown back out for further missions, like Stevens in the Source Code. Earlier in the movie, Captain Goodman established that it was impossible to communicate between the Source Code and reality. In other words, the two worlds are like parallel lines, never able to touch each other. So how can Stevens send an e-mail from the Source Code back to reality? It doesn’t make sense. Once Goodman cut off the life support on Stevens, that was supposed to be it. The rope connecting Reality Ship and the Source Code Lifeboat was supposed to be cut off. Captain Stevens was supposed to be on his own in the new reality as Sean Fentress. Stevens’ body was supposed to die. The ship and the lifeboat were now completely separate and isolated. So how could they a) communicate by e-mail, and b) reset time? There are no laws of physics allowing people to do that, let alone Stevens’ determination. That is what I think makes the “movie reality” false.

  15. I saw the Source Code a few years back when it originally came out in theater, and although the second time around I have picked up on more of the nuances of the film, the ending seems as out of place as it did the first time around. The whole movie is a cascade of confusing terms meshed with uncertain explanation that fails to really demonstrate clearly the science behind what’s going on. However, that’s all right with me. When I sign up to watch a time “reassignment” movie, or any movie with a strong science fiction emphasis, I understand that suspending my disbelief is part of the job. I also dismiss the weak explanations behind the science because, even with real and proven science like the theory of relativity, I can’t manage to wrap my head around it. I applaud anyone who can. This movie ends in a display of barely thought out Hollywood mush, thrown together in a way that makes it seem like the writers were just too tired to think of a solid ending. Moreover, the writers seem scared! No one likes to see the lovable and hardworking main character die, but sometimes it just has to happen. It may just be me, but the movies where the hero dies, whether or not be in a Hollywood produced blaze of glory, are often the best. The idea that Stevens’ determination and love solved the problem just makes the ending worse. Love may conquer all, but at least in Romeo and Juliet the main characters both died. To make a film that has any importance or matter in life, the least a filmmaker can do is make the morals and outcomes of human decisions seem realistic. I think the writers threw together the ending, then left viewers to figure out how it could make sense.

  16. 3. Did the military cross the line with the use of Capt. Stevens' body and mind for the Source Code? Why or why not?

    I think that they did go to far in the end, plus the one guy in charge went back on his deal with captain Philips. He never asked to be in the source code, he just woke up and found out that he was dead and had been missing for months. All he wanted was to be unplugged and die a somewhat normal death.


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