Village of the Damned

Imagine a scenario where our next evolutionary successors are emotionless, telepathic, and highly intelligent. Village of the Damned presents such a scenario and details the struggle of this "superior" race against the humans.

John Carpenter has taken the original 1960s screenplay and gorified it in this version, but the ideas in the movie are still captivating. A higher lifeform impregnates the females of the Damned Village one night, resulting in the births of nine platinum-blond(e) children and one stillborn, all of which are siblings. What's more, they are telepathically linked and have the power to control people's minds. According to the movie, they are emotionless, but they do seem to get angry for trivial reasons, they seem to have a great drive for survival, and they are intelligent.

The basic flaw in this story seems to be that you can have intelligence without emotions. I believe this to be a contradiction because any reasonable definition of human-like intelligence (say, the one that requires the passing of the Turing test (i.e., any perfect simulation of a human is intelligent)) requires a drive, a curiousity, and a passion, that goes beyond mere survival. But besides this, the picture the movie paints is rather reasonable. One of the main ideas is the notion of a "collective soul", which I think is indeed a feature of higher intelligence (low level examples include our own brain which is simply a collection of smaller "intelligent" units, neurons). However, rigourous conformity, which is one of the aspects of the children in the movie, is not a necessity and is certainly not a sign of higher intelligence. Without allowing for change within such a collective, there is no room for evolution. A sucessor species to us would have emotions, intelligence, telepathic powers (allowing for complete freedom of information), and individual free will, thus enabling Thomas More's vision of Utopia coming true.

The actual story is about how two doctors, one M.D. (Christopher Reeve), and one Ph.D. (Kirstie Alley), battle with the children. The film's ending suggests that emotions help survival, but in my view, all the alien children possessed emotion.

If you do see Village of the Damned, see it not just for the way Carpenter kills off the cast, but for the lesson it teaches us about what our next evolutionary successors might be like.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||