Tuesday, July 17, 2007
One of the good things about being in Toastmasters is being able to give presentations that relate to your interests, within reason, of course. Last night, for the manual I'm working from, it was time for me to present a monodrama. Thankfully, unlike my previous attempt at this assignment, it was well received by the smaller than usual audience.
Basically you're required to play a character who gives a soliloquy or addresses another character. In my younger years, Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) were among my favourite movies, as they are today. The less said about Superman III (1983) and IV (1987) the better. To make it fun for myself, I decided to present the sequence from the first film where Superman's father, Jor-El, played by Marlon Brando, addresses his son. The dialogue was adapted from a draft of the original screenplay I found online and from the 2001 DVD release of the film.
The story goes that Jor-El sent his infant son to Earth in a spacecraft to escape the destruction of his homeworld, Krypton. Two years later, his spacecraft crashes in a wheat field outside the small American town of Smallville. There he was discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who are wheat farmers. Naming him Clark, they take the child in and raise him as their own son. Clark grows up knowing that he is far more than a farm boy. He has been sent to Earth for reason, but he doesn't know where he is really from, and what that reason is.
Shortly after his eighteenth birthday, Clark awakes one morning to discover a mysterious green crystal hidden in his barn. This was sent along with him by his father. He heads for the Artic, and uses this crystal to build his Fortress of Solitude. Inside, he finds a control panel, which activates a holographic recorded simulation of his father, who reveals to him his true heritage as the last survivor of the planet Krypton, and his reason for being on Earth. He learns that his purpose is to use his great powers to sacrificially serve and protect humankind.
Whilst this wasn't necessarily intended by the filmmakers, when I saw these films again as an adult, I couldn't help but notice that they had a Biblical subtext to them. To an extent, this element was also retained in last year's Superman Returns. Superman is almost a Messianic figure, giving of himself for the greater good of all humanity. In Superman II, he faces and defeats his greatest enemy, General Zod, who with his thirst for absolute power, corresponds with popular notions of the Antichrist, as described in some schools of thought in eschatology.