(Warning: contains story spoilers!) The Island looks into a near future (the year 2019 is specified) where it has become possible for the rich and famous, including top sportsmen and the US President, to have a clone of themselves made as an ‘insurance policy’. The clients are led to believe that the clones (aka Agnates) are kept in a permanent vegetative state, but this is not true. The clones, which are made using an accelerated development system, are, in fact, awake and carry out certain jobs. They are told that they are survivors after a catastrophic accident and have to live indoors, unless they win the lottery and with it the chance to move to the contamination-free Island. This is a cover story to explain their sudden disappearance when their organs need to be harvested for the sponsor. The film focusses on an escape by two clones, Lincoln 6 Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan 2 Delta (Scarlett Johansson), who go in search of their sponsors after Lincoln discovers the truth about what it means to win a move to “The Island”.
The film can be a useful vehicle for discussing human cloning. For example, you could get the students to compare and contrast the cloning depicted in the film with the science and current legislation of both therapeutic and reproductive cloning.
The film is a certificate 12, so there are few problems content-wise in showing the whole thing to any secondary or university group. However, some scenes in isolation (supported by a little background from the teacher) are sufficient to serve as a case study. In particular Chapter 17 “Why do they lie to us?” (0:59:02 to 1:02:43) is very good – nb includes one use of ‘shitty’. Also Chapter 7 (0:23:00 to 0:26:00) depicts an adult ‘birth’; Chapter 14 (0:48:30 to 0:51:50) the sales pitch to potential customers about the limitations of human life and a statement that the Agnates are “products, not human”; Chapter 15 (0:52:50 to 0:54:05) where we are told that Jordan 2 Delta’s sponsor is dying; Chapter 30 (1:43:45 to 1:45:50) “How many are affected?” and Chapter 33 (1:54:40 to 1:55:33) “When did killing become a business for you?”