'Do you believe that space can give life, or take it away, that space has power?': space and organ transplantation in contemporary film

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Abstract

The white posters from Miguel Sapochnik's 2010 film Repo Men go against repeated medical advice across the Anglophone world by telling us to 'drink irresponsibly' and 'have the cheeseburger'. Health worries have vanished in this imagined future where antiforg technology has resulted in almost miraculous human organ replacement advancements. Current issues, such as immunological rejection, life-long immunosuppression and organ shortages, have been eradicated by unexplained technological innovations. The small print at the end of these posters reads: 'Repossession of antiforgs may be performed at lessor's discretion. The Union is not at fault for any and all resulting injuries or fatalities related to antiforg repossession.' The utopian solution to the so-called problems of organ transplantation are framed from the start of the film by the repo man Remy – played by Jude Law – slicing into a still breathing man to retrieve a mechanical liver for which this soon-to-be-dead man (because he is killed by Remy as a result of the liver removal) has not kept up the necessary payments. As Remy turns on Rosemary Clooney's 1960 version of Sway, the audience witnesses the gruesome reality of this upbeat, utopian-eqsue world: failing to keep up the payments will result in a painful death where one's organs, or more accurately what is the technological property of the Union, are torn out and returned to their rightful owner.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEntangled Bodies
Subtitle of host publicationArt, Identity and Intercorporeality
EditorsTammer El-Sheikh
Place of PublicationMalaga, Spain
Chapter12
Pages165–185
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781648890574
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2021

Keywords

  • space
  • organ transplantation
  • power
  • contemporary film

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