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  • Writer's pictureJude

Short Film: Helium

There is a debate within Philosophy, more specific the areas that concern Science – the truth or rather validity of the terminology and ideas within the field. Such as the unobservable workings of atoms, named quarks, electrons and such. There are also explanations for things we cannot observe, such as Black Holes. Many Scientists and Realists hold these to be true by their definition and explanation for their occurrence or contribution to the field.

An argument against such a belief is that in order to understand these unobservable ideas that work with our theoretical claims, we utilise instruments to further our capacity to observe. A microscope, telescope, magnifying glass and other perception enhancing instruments allow us to study the claims. Hence without them, we cannot see these unobservable entities – therefore cannot believe them to exist.

A seemingly irrelevant introduction to this review for the Oscar Winning Short Helium by Anders Walter, yet I shall waste no time in drawing the link between Scientific Realism and this 23 minute heart clenching film. It follows a working relationship between a Young Patient and an enthusiastic Janitor, Alfred and Enzo.

Enzo’s enthusiasm is sparked by sympathy for and honesty from Alfred, who understands himself to be terminally ill – but has been comforted by the idea of going to Heaven. Nevertheless, Alfred explains this situation boring. The idea of Heaven is often advocated to be the epitome of goodness. To a learning Child the idea may not run so swimmingly when your mind is so contentious, full of energy and ambition only to receive death and no opportunity in the existence you understand.

This is why Enzo felt it necessary to propose a story, an alternative to the paths the old beliefs directed, an idea which utilises what Alfred knows and loves. This idea Enzo creates is the place called Helium. Like with our short explanation of a Scientific Realism belief, Helium is an idea that cannot be observed – yet as a working idea with the aim being peace of mind with death it could also be claimed a working theory.

What was captivating for me was realising a young Boy’s life is coming to an end, without any hope – just a mere idea of Heaven that he apparently doesn’t believe. I thought to myself we seem so adamant to propagate our beliefs onto those we love, those who are unsure or have none. By watching this I reasoned that not everything must be determined by truth, but what it relieves – in a sense how it works. In this film, Alfred is given hope with these colourful yet empty words and relieved from grief of his terminal disease.

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