Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blood Transfusions and Anti-Alien Bias in Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

The following post contains a not too outrageous spoiler for Edge of Tomorrow (2014) so if spoilers are not your thing, you should see this movie and then possibly read this.

In a moment, we will discuss the importance and semiotics of blood transfusions in Edge of Tomorrow (2014) that epic alien invasion Groundhog Day film.   But first, I must protest Hollywood's endless hate-filled diatribes against peace loving alien invasion species.   How do we know that these aliens are not actually our friends?  Why do we always have to fight a war against something that looks like about 100,000,000 gigantic, mutated metallic spiders on crack?  Can't we just love each other while they are eating us?

So getting back to Edge of Tomorrow (2014), it is a fundamental plot point that it was the intermixing of alien and human blood that causes the plot device that the hero can now use the time reset ability of the alien with some loose ends left loose, but thats ok. What is made explicit is that the human must not receive a blood transfusion because if you do then the spell, I mean the plot device, is broken. And you are really dead the next time things happen.

So two things, first.

A lesser spoiler must be that when one receives a transfusion, that the recipient must really know that the spell is broken in some intrinsic way otherwise they are just going to get themselves dead but this time it really is game over. And the situations that our hero or heroine are in are so dire that it is very, very easy to get yourself dead.

No blood, please.

But, and I hate to pick nits, but why not, everyone who goes into battle these days, at least any human that goes into battle, contains a hard to remove tag to indicate blood type and any special instructions to the attending physician while the patient is unconscious (and possibly having limbs removed, etc).  Most transfusions in battlefield conditions are often plasma-only transfusions which still require knowing the ABO blood type, but not RHD. Thus, it would be perfectly possible to have a dogtag that indicated that it was the patients wish to receive no transfusion even to the point of death. It would not be normal, but it would be possible. What would be less clear is whether the technician or doctor would follow the instructions on the tag given the death of the patient from blood loss and shock.

But maybe that would not have been as fun.

It may be also worthwhile pointing out that a film that depends so heavily on the issue of blood shows you so little of it, and what you do see is obviously alien blood and therefore on some level does not count.  Yes selfishly we do not seem to care about the vast suffering on the part of the misunderstood aliens in this film.

It is implicit in this spoiler that I would care enough about the film to even think of or worry about such a thing in contrast to most films, for example, Pacific Rim (2014), where it is not even worthwhile to find plot issues, its just not worth your time.

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