A second Adam

Culture | Movie Review

Issue: "Iraq: What went wrong?," May 15, 2004

Godsend (PG-13) is about a couple whose 8-year-old son Adam is killed in an auto accident. An avuncular scientist, played by Robert De Niro, tells the grieving parents (Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) that he and his research institute, Godsend, Inc., can bring their son back to life by cloning him.

The couple goes through the process, Mom gets pregnant with the genetic carbon copy, and she gives birth to another Adam. He is just the same until he turns 8, the age the first Adam died. At that point, as they say, "things start to go horribly wrong."

The first part of the film, showing the family and how they react to the tragedy, is promising, raising important questions about the ethics and the possibilities of cloning. But after the movie's second birthday party, it becomes just another horror movie. And an inept one at that, with two major cop-outs in the story line, including one that erases the movie's very premise.

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Movies and other works of fiction can help us think through issues by imagining what they might mean in concrete terms. Most cinematic depictions of cloning, though, portray the cloned person as some sort of monster. This ties in to the widespread opinion that is overwhelmingly opposed to reproductive cloning (which results in a living person), while being supportive of therapeutic cloning (in which a human embryo is engendered only to be killed and its body used for medicine). Both kinds of cloning are wrong, but if a child were to be born as a result of cloning, he or she would have a life worth protecting.

To think of someone who has been cloned as some kind of evil monster, as this movie does, reinforces our culture's anti-life mentality.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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