Never mind that Sunshine is one of the scariest, most action-laden sci-fi films of the noughties, it is also one of the most philosophical. An entertaining blend of sci-fi drama and horror, it explores much larger themes than the classic “lost in space” narrative, such as God and fanaticism, ethics and morality, and the importance of humanity in the face of the sublime.
The sun here represents both the source of life, as well as its destruction, creating the perfect backdrop for a survival story in the most hostile of environments, where every tiny human error can lead to ultimate devastation. In this setting, the international cast of Sunshine (Cillian Murphy, Rose Burne, Michelle Yeoh, …) faces the most difficult of choices: utilitarianism versus individualism.
Just like the astronauts, the movie’s atmosphere shifts between opposing emotions: the claustrophobic tension within the scathing hot and sweaty interior of a spaceship too close to the sun, and the awe inspired by the sheer vastness of the universe. In terms of what science fiction can and should do (amaze, devastate, question), Sunshine delivers in every respect, as long as you allow yourself to abandon disbelief. And you should! Because Sunshine achieves what only the best of science fiction can hope to achieve: transcendence.