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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Surrogates

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Bruce Willis stars in a scene from the movie "Surrogates."
"Life, only better." So runs the advertising slogan of the conglomerate whose technological breakthrough—the development of a race of ideal-looking robotic alter egos remote-controlled by their human owners' thoughts—provides the premise for the futuristic thriller "Surrogates" (Touchstone).

This generally intriguing cautionary tale begins with a series of flashbacks showing us the profound, and seemingly positive, social changes brought about by the use of these mechanical avatars. As more and more people opt to remain in the safety of their homes and live their lives vicariously through their surrogates, for example, the crime rate dwindles to nothing.

So law enforcement authorities are shocked when the college-aged son of the man who invented surrogacy—the wheelchair-bound scientist is played, at different ages, by James Francis Ginty and James Cromwell—is murdered. Adding to their bewilderment is the fact that the young man died because his surrogate was destroyed, something that was thought to be impossible.

Assigned to investigate the high-profile case, Boston-based FBI agents Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) gradually uncover a conspiracy that appears to involve the above-mentioned corporation, the Army, and even a group of anti-surrogate activists whose dreadlocked leader calls himself the Prophet (Ving Rhames).

Off the job, Greer mourns for his little son, who was killed in an auto accident, and longs to reconnect with his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike). But Maggie—whose grief has caused her to become addicted to prescription pills—refuses to interact with him except via her surrogate, fearing that Greer will reject her if he sees the graying, ravaged figure she has become.

Director Jonathan Mostow's adaptation of Robert Venditti's graphic novel The Surrogates dramatizes the perils of contemporary technology, especially its potential to cut us off from human contact and from the world of nature. Through Greer and Maggie's troubles, John Brancato and Michael Ferris' script also explores the spiritual values undergirding a successful marriage.

The film contains considerable action violence, drug use, brief sexual situations, a couple of uses of profanity and a few crude and crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
____________________________
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Bernadette Soubirous: Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age. 
<p>There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig. </p><p>According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was. </p><p>Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862. </p><p>During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35. </p><p>She was canonized in 1933.</p> American Catholic Blog In humility, a woman ultimately forgets 
herself; forgets both her shortcomings and accomplishments equally and 
strives to remain empty of self to make room for Jesus, just as Mary 
did.

 
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