Cross­ing bor­ders

Small-town USA gets refugee time-trav­ellers in The Cross­ing.

TV Plus (South Africa) - - SHOWMAX -

In Au­gust 2015, a Syr­ian fa­ther clutched his son as he stepped off a tiny rub­ber boat onto the shores of a Greek is­land. The Pulitzer Prizewin­ning pho­to­graph of that mo­ment be­came a sym­bol to screen­writer and pro­ducer Dan Dworkin (MTV’s Scream, 2015- cur­rent) of the strug­gle for more than 5.6 mil­lion refugees flee­ing the Syr­ian civil war – and the world’s in­abil­ity to cope with the scale of the refugee cri­sis that the war had cre­ated. “The look on the guy’s face, as a fa­ther, killed me. That was the spark ini­tially. That’s when I emailed Jay [series cocre­ator and pro­ducer Jay Beat­tie] and said ‘refugees’,” Dan re­veals.


That one-word pitch “refugee” even­tu­ally be­came science fiction series The Cross­ing (2018), which is ex­clu­sive to in­ter­net stream­ing ser­vice Show­max. And there is a twist. When lo­cal sher­iff Jude El­lis (Steve Zahn), his deputy Nestor Rosario (Rick Gomez) and De­part­ment Of Home­land Se­cu­rity agent Emma Ren (San­drine Holt) ques­tion some of the 47 “refugees” who have mys­te­ri­ously washed up on their small fish­ing town’s beach with their dead and dy­ing, they too claim to be flee­ing war – one fought in the United States 180 years in the fu­ture. They might be from the same coun­try on the sur­face, but not only are the refugees cul­tur­ally and ide­o­log­i­cally dif­fer­ent from their baf­fled new hosts, some like Reece (Natalie Martinez) have been ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered to have su­per­pow­ers that could pose a threat to the lo­cals.


Through the refugees’ eyes, we’re told a cau­tion­ary tale of ge­netic tam­per­ing, widen­ing class di­vides and a geno­cide to come. It’s a hor­ror story for mod­ern times, pro­jected onto an un­cer­tain fu­ture. And that has al­ways been a fea­ture of the most strik­ing sci-fi and hor­ror sto­ries. The 1954 Ja­panese film Godzilla, about a city-an­ni­hi­lat­ing mu­tated di­nosaur pro­duced by radi- ation, was as much a prod­uct of the 1945 bomb­ing of Hiroshima as were the “Atomic Age” sci-fi comics com­ing out of the United States in the early 1960s that fo­cused on men and women like Marvel’s The Fantastic Four (de­but­ing in 1961), who were given amaz­ing but dif­fi­cult-to- con­trol pow­ers by nu­clear ra­di­a­tion. They’re vastly dif­fer­ent tales cre­ated by nearly op­po­site ex­pe­ri­ences with nu­clear power.


Aside from ex­am­in­ing the way that the refugee cri­sis has seized imag­i­na­tions and been abused as a fear-mon­ger­ing po­lit­i­cal tool re­cently, The Cross­ing is also about a more pri­mal fear: los­ing a child. Jay adds that “we are both dads, so a lot is in­formed by be­ing a par­ent and the no­tion of be­ing sep­a­rated from your child, the no­tion of hav­ing your child taken from you; the no­tion of not know­ing what hap­pened to your child.”


The fu­ture isn’t all about fear though. “There’s a lot with the hu­man drama but there’s also a lot on the sci-fi end. We were very ex­cited to ex­plore facets of ge­netic engi­neer­ing. It plays a sig­nif­i­cant part in terms of where The Apex (ge­net­i­cally ad­vanced hu­mans) comes from and the science of that. We get to that in the show. That was re­ally fun!” says Dan. “We had a con­sul­tant, a synthetic bi­ol­o­gist who helped with our science. We were very ex­cited to think about what the fu­ture might look like in 150 years. That’s the best re­search, the most fun we’ve ever had talk­ing to re­searchers and fu­tur­ists about what they think the fu­ture might hold.”

The Cross­ing blends mod­ern-day is­sues like refugees and war with sci-fi el­e­ments like ge­netic ma­nip­u­la­tion.

The refugees are saved be­fore they re­veal where they’re from: 180 years in the fu­ture.

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