By Bill Arceneaux
Many months ago, filmmaker Jason Matherne expressed to me the following thought: that making movies was, for him, a way of creating the kind of world he wanted to live in. I believe that this not only extends to all disciplines of art, but should be amended with the obvious: that art is directly inspired by life, which in turn is inspired by art.
The best example of this I can think of is the Star Trek series, a show ripped from the ideas of NASA, an organization with scientists and engineers who became what they became because of Star Trek. It’s like some sort of wonderful Chinese riddle. Which is more important? I’m biased towards movies, so I’ll choose art. However, the real answer is both. You can’t have one without the other.
There is a brilliant project being worked on right now called Solar Roadways. The idea is to completely transform our road system into glass, and put solar panels underneath to power the national (or regional to start with) energy grid. If ever there was an outside the box idea, it’s this. Videos and articles are all over the net, describing in detail the benefits of such a technology. As a film critic, though, I think in terms of cinema.
So, imagine with me if this green tech were implemented into the world of popular movies. What would happen to the story? Would these movies – art that is a reflection of our own experiences – then show us a better reality? A more inspired life? Let’s see:
Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace
One of the most unpopular popular films of all time, The Phantom Menace could definitely stand to be improved upon. Take Tatooine, an impoverished, corrupt and underdeveloped system. Generations of inaction and ignorance have only held back progress. Slave labor is more than common, waste appears to be dumped here and basic utilities are scarce. As sun baked as it is, Solar Roadways could help the people thrive.
For starters, with just a few main streets outfitted with panels, a community can have access to energy to power appliances like pumps for water wells, learning devices like computers and communication to other parts of the Galaxy.
Abundant junkyards could be sifted through for recyclable materials, to be used to make support structures. Bandits and scoundrels could be reformed and redeemed with much needed subcontractor jobs, eliminating the possibility of slaves working on such a noble project – something that would be a political nightmare. And, of course, podrace tracks could be outfitted with recharging stations, powered off the arena grounds!
Giving a better future to Anakin Skywalker helps lift the shroud of the Sith and further balance the force.
The Wizard of Oz
For someone like Dorothy, there is no time to waste in defeating the Wicked Witch and getting home. Unfortunately, there are manner dangers in the land of Oz. Weather can change on a dime and flying monkeys can attack in an instant.
What if the yellow brick road had heating elements, powered by the sun, to clear away ice and snow? Solar Roadways can provide that. What if LEDs had been implemented by the Great and Powerful Wizard, notifying travelers of dangers ahead on the road itself? Solar Roadways can do just that. And just where is the Wicked Witch when you need to find her? A system that tracks specific vehicles (or brooms) to keep an eye on traffic and accidents would be an incredible asset. Again – Solar Roadways.
And don’t worry about falling houses putting a crack in the glass road – it’s been designed to hold heavy weight and stay strong in all conditions.
Marvel’s The Avengers
Tony Stark would blush at the idea of electrical roads. In The Avengers, Iron Man plans to help build a clean energy generator out of his skyscraper laboratory. Such a genius paired with a genius idea like Solar Roadways would guarantee several steps towards oil independence, and put a halt to wars over resources.
That being stated, there are still those that would want to do us harm. Loki was able to hack into Stark’s grid to lead an alien attack on New York. If S.H.I.E.L.D. could’ve had more monitoring capabilities, just a modest amount, even a teleporting God of Mischief could’ve been taken down much faster. With a power grid designed to never be disrupted, and meant to connect with all sorts of technologies with multiple applications (eyes and ears), not even a Chitauri could come down from the sky without us being ready. And an infiltration from Hydra? Probably would be much easier to detect.
It’s cool to know Captain America is out there protecting us, but it would be even cooler knowing he could relax for a bit, knowing Solar Roadways has eliminating threats.
Look up the project. Donate to its IndieGoGo campaign. And re-watch these movies. Put yourself in them, and keep the above in mind. Be inspired.