Why ‘Lucy’ is an ode to the power of knowledge

Why ‘Lucy’ is an ode to the power of knowledge

A research-centered review of Luc Besson's 2014 film starring Scarlett Johanssen, Morgan Freeman

‘Lucy’ is a 2014 French science fiction action film written and directed by Luc Besson. It stars Scarlett Johansson (pictured above) as the titular character, a woman who gains psychokinetic abilities when a nootropic drug is absorbed into her bloodstream (Wikipedia, n.d.) Screen capture

The following are notes I took after screening the film to be used as reference material for future writing. It assumes you saw the film already.

As I trained as a public school teacher last year, I watched Lucy for the first time and was affected by its concepts, especially with the message that knowledge and learning are connected to time, and therefore, immortality.

As the titular character uses her brain power to a greater degree, her cellular structure destabilizes, too, decentralizing the legacy of genetics/reproduction (having children) and elevating the impact of collaborative wisdom, passing on ideas to the next generation. Even though we may all live and die finitely as individuals, as a cooperative, using our evolutionary intelligence, we have the potential for immortality.

So, then, what kinds of ideas are we passing on to each other? How do we overcome mass ignorance, chaotic thinking that prevents us from elevating our collective consciousnesses (a.k.a. how do we make the world a better place)?

Human existence revolves around time, and we use our time to pass on collective knowledge and learning as a giant organism

Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) speaking about the connections between time and human knowledge and learning from the 2014 film ‘Lucy’ Screen capture

For primitive beings like us, life seems to have only one single purpose: gaining time. And it is going through time that seems to be also the only real purpose of each of the cells in our bodies. To achieve that aim, the mass of the cells that make up earthworms and human beings has only two solutions. Be immortal, or to reproduce. If its habitat is not sufficiently favorable or nurturing, the cell will choose immortality. In other words, self-sufficiency and self-management. On the other hand, if the habitat is favorable, they will choose to reproduce. That way, when they die, they hand down essential information and knowledge to the next cell. Which hands it down to the next cell and so on. Thus knowledge and learning are handed down through time.

Professor Norman (as portrayed by actor Morgan Freeman)

As long as humanity lives and passes on its knowledge and learning to future generations, no one truly dies

Amr Waked (left) and Scarlett Johanssen in a scene from the 2014 film ‘Lucy’ Screen capture

Pierre Del Rio: [During the high-speed car ride through Paris with Lucy driving] I’d rather be late than dead.
Lucy: We never really die.

There is no one way of doing things, the rules we follow are illusions

Scarlett Johanssen in a scene from the 2014 film ‘Lucy’ Screen capture

Humans consider themselves unique so they’ve rooted their whole theory of existence on their uniqueness. One is their unit of measure, but it’s not. All social systems we’ve put into place are a mere sketch. One plus one equals two. That’s all we’ve learned, but one plus one has never equaled two. There are, in fact, no numbers and no letters. We’ve codified our existence to bring it down to human size to make it comprehensible. We’ve created a scale so that we can forget its unfathomable scale.

Lucy (as portrayed by Scarlett Johanssen)

Ignorance is the source of humanity’s problems

Scarlett Johanssen in a scene from the 2014 film ‘Lucy’ Screen capture

Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge.

Lucy (as portrayed by Scarlett Johanssen)

Knowledge is the source of power to reverse societal chaos or a tragic fate

As Lucy begins to approach maximum use of her brain capacity, she is able to cycle through time and makes contact with the first human in a visual metaphor recalling Michelangelo’s fresco painting, ‘The Creation of Adam.’ With this allusion, she can be seen as giving new ‘life to man’ by sharing her new knowledge, just as God gave life to Adam. Screen capture

Once we have the knowledge to transcend the current miseries of our way of life, it is up to us to use it

Life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it?… Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what to do with it.

Lucy (as portrayed by Scarlett Johanssen), first and last lines of the film


Besson-Silla, V. (Producer), & Besson, L. (Director). (2014). Lucy [Motion Picture]. EuropaCorp Distribution.

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