July 28, 2008

If you believe The Truth is Out There, then I highly recommend that you avoid the latest “X-Files” movie , stay in, and read Tom Piatak’s fantastic article on the conservative impulses in the original series. Even a perusal through “The X-Files”’s rather fascinating and discursive Wikipedia entry would be more rewarding than a viewing of I Want to Believe.

In the new film, “paranormal activity” is nowhere to be found. The only gesture towards The Unknown is a boy-buggering priest who may or may not be receiving a psychic messages”€”less spooky than creepy and silly, if you ask me. All anti-government angst and suspicions have been banned. There’s no sinister figure in the corner of the room wearing a dark suite and ominously smoking cigarettes, who might just be in league with some nefarious aliens bent on colonizing the planet, for instance. In his stead are the kinds of smarty-pants, tech-savvy crime solvers you”€™d expect to meet in an episode of CSI. The topic of religion is broached in a subplot regarding stem-cell therapy, but again, it’s all more “hot-button” than theological.

In the original series, Chris Carter & Co. were far more willing to take chances. 

I actually wasn”€™t into “The X-Files” during its heyday, and, in fact, it was only a few months ago that Tom Piatak told me how much I’d been missing, and how much Sam Francis loved the series. Since then, I’ve been on a “X-Files” Netflix binge.

In the original pilot, while Scully and Mulder are ivestigating a series of mysterious disappearances, Mulder reveals to his new partner that he believes his sister was abducted by aliens and that he’s forever searching for her. “The X-Files” is, of course, famous for its big “€œmythology“€ running through the whole series, and immediately after watching episode #1, I came up with the ultimate transcendent, shock ending: Mulder would discover that his long-lost sister is in fact”€”Scully! (Perhaps a bit Wagnerian, but it would have been cool.)

Sadly, no such rapturous, bring-everything-together climax of this sort was even attempted. But then perhaps the “mythology” was always a bit of a myth. Along with “€œtune in next week”€ cliff-hangers, “The X-Files” always included periodic entrances of unknown strangers giving dire but exceedingly vague warnings of … well.. something. As this kept up, I’m sure a number of fans began to have a sneaking suspicion that it all wasn’t actually leading anywhere and that Chris Carter might just be making it up as he went along. I Want to Believe only adds to one’s worry that, in truth, perhaps there wasn”€™t a lot of there out there.  


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