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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Splice

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service

"Splice" (Warner Bros.) is an unintentionally amusing and not-very-scary horror film which reminds us, once again, that it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature. Though its message is ambiguous, this perverse tale of genetic engineering run amok ought to win new converts to the Catholic Church's repeated warnings that scientists should not "play God" when it comes to human cloning and procreation.

Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are partners in life and in the lab. Genetic engineers at Nucleic Exchange Research and Development (NERD for short), they specialize in "splicing" together genes from different animal species to create new life forms. Their pride and joy are "Fred" and "Ginger," bulbous blobs that may contain a new protein that will "cure" countless diseases, from Parkinson's to cancer.

Motivated by greed as a result of their partnership with wicked pharmaceutical companies, NERD's owners are delighted with these "designer species." Clive and Elsa are ready for the next step—human gene splicing—to achieve "the medical breakthrough of the century," but NERD says no, citing the "moral outrage" that would ensue.

Viewers looking for moral clarity on a timely issue will find none in "Splice," which instead waffles. "If God did not want us to explore his domain, why did he give us the map?" one scientist says. Clive is conflicted; while he admits "we changed the rules," he declares, "There are some things you just don't do!"

Elsa agrees that "human cloning is illegal," but adds, speaking of their proposed creation, "This won't be human, entirely." She, too, cites "moral considerations," saying, "People are dying now who we can give hope to."

In fact, a lot of people (including human embryos) die in "Splice," thanks to what happens once Elsa persuades Clive to proceed with the experiment. The human hybrid result, "H-50," is initially monstrous, resembling an albino guinea pig on steroids. But soon this creature (which only consumes Tic Tacs—not a good sign) morphs into the comely Dren (Delphine Chaneac). The bride of Frankenstein never looked this good, apart from chicken legs, retractable wings and a rather deadly tail.

Dren grows up at an accelerated rate, and the inevitable mother-daughter conflicts ensue, especially when the adolescent Dren, high on hormones, turns her attentions to Clive.

No wonder Clive's hard heart melts and he is now attracted to Dren—Elsa used her own genes in Dren's creation. When Clive puts on the swing music and he and Dren dance their own version of Fred and Ginger, "Splice" takes a farcical turn. What follows is outrageous and often obscene, as the four credited scriptwriters display an unhealthy obsession with human-monster copulation.

"Splice" does not wholly condemn the process or method, only the misguided result. The Catholic Church, by contrast, is unwavering on the evils of manipulating procreation by any method that involves the destruction of innocent human life or a separation of the essential unitive and procreative aspects of marital love.

The film contains a generally sympathetic presentation of human cloning, genetic engineering, and embryo destruction; nudity; nonmarital sexual activity; rape; rough language; and bloody scenes of violence and torture. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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