test 3

test # 3

 

The original Robocop, released back in 1987 and directed by Paul Verhoeven, was not only one of the best science fiction films of the last three decades—or, as Tom Scocca described it on Gawker, “a brilliant comedy operating in the guise of an ultraviolent action movie”—but it was also a Christian allegory. At least according to Verhoeven himself who, in a 2010 interview, referred to his resurrected robot hero as “the American Jesus.” Let’s discuss.

I’m interested less in validating Verhoeven’s perspective than I am in simply considering how it might be possible, on both a narrative and allegorical level, to see this cop-returned-from-the-dead as a kind of machine-messiah, a betrayed figure whose flickering consciousness is pulled back from the darkness of its digital tomb by scientist-disciples who, albeit cautiously, believe very much that he will thus come back to save them.

As Verhoeven specifically suggested to MTV, “The point of Robocop, of course, is it is a Christ story. It is about a guy that gets crucified after 50 minutes, then is resurrected in the next 50 minutes and then is like the super-cop of the world, but is also a Jesus figure as he walks over water at the end.”

Comparisons have been made, for example, between Christ being nailed through the palm to a cross and the initial shooting of Sgt. Murphy in the film, whose open hand is targeted with a shotgun; and, as The Playlist posted yesterday, “Verhoeven, on the Blu-ray, also assumes that when Christ returned, he was something of a ‘Che Guevara figure,’ and would have probably instructed his followers to take up arms, just like Robocop.” Just like Robocop—the confidence is both amusing and admirable, but do these comparisons really hold up?

At worst, this sounds like an interpretation you might cook up after a late night full of bong hits—a resurrected man! a quest for justice! a confrontation with those who betrayed him!—and a re-viewing of Robocop with this in mind quickly becomes a futile game of spot-the-Christ-references. However, speaking perhaps only for myself, that doesn’t take away from the most basic premise here, which is imagining Robocop as the response to a kind of mythological or narrative challenge: retell the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (either as an historical figure or a religious one, it’s up to you) for our contemporary context.

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