Jump to content

Is The Real World Really Real?

Rate this topic

Guest Laurent.

Recommended Posts

Guest Laurent.
"I shall return unto thee..."

I am back, as promised! Fear not. :angel2:

Glad to see you're back in the Realm, I was starting to experience problems in maintaining my upbeatness.

Pilot Episode:

First of all, the so called "real world" scenes are shot in a grainy, hazy look - almost like slightly bad reception or something. The scenes in "Harsh Realm" are shot in the same fashion. Now, you could say this was done as a stylistic effect, or to give it a documentary-like look. But, I just think, given all the other subtle hints in the series, that this is another indication that the "real world" is just another part of a larger simulation. Also, when there is a transition from scene to scene, it is done with a digital looking fade from one scene to another - this occurs even when it is a transition from "Harsh Realm" to the "real world." This I think is one of the "hints" that the so called "real world" is just another simulated reality. These transitions occur in all the episodes, I think.

Well, I agree that the grainy look of the pilot in both "reality" and the Realm could be an indication that nothing of this is real. But, I saw it more as a representation of the harsh (pun intended) side of both worlds; that reality also has suffering and atrocities even if it barely compares to the almost post-apocalyptic world of Harsh Realm. Now, the fading transitions from reality to Harsh Realm is barely a hint at all. I mean, if you know that Chris Carter wanted to introduce a multi-layered virtual reality (with virtual world in other virtual world) then, I guess, you could look at the "digital fade" as an indication of that. But without more indications, I would just assume that it was an artistic choice made to help the viewer notice when he/she was entering/leaving the "video game".

Another indicator is right in the beginning of the Pilot episode. Hobbes heorically races in to save his friend, Waters. When he finally gets to him, and covers Waters and himself up with a matress to protect from the bombing of the building - Hobbes looks up and sees graffitti depicting crossed swords... like the crossed swords of the Santiago Republican Guard insignia that he would latter see only in "Harsh Realm."

I guess one could say that the crossed swords symbol is not unusual at all to represent war or conflict. And it seems probable that graffitis of this kind could easily be found. But the truth is, I also thought of the graffitis as one of the "indicators". When Hobbes enter the realm and decide to go look for Sophie, he finds a ravaged house and exactly the same skull graffiti that was in Sarajevo. Now, it could just be to emphasize the fact that the choice he made in Sarajevo affected the rest of his life. But, in the real world (real world being the one we live in), how many times does destiny wink at us this way? If Hobbes and Sophie's reality is really another virtual simulation, and everything is programmed, then the graffitis in Srajevo's building could just be a programmer joke. "Fate, destiny and that stuff about your path already being chosen" they're just a way of saying that our lives have already been programmed and that we'll play the game as we're supposed to be playing it and not as we want to.

Of course, all of this depends on what Chris Carter intended in the beginning. But it's easy to imagine that CC really wanted to imply that our world isn't real.

Lastly, I don't think the writers/directors/producers of Harsh realm could have done anything to save the show (maybe beg for mercy), all they can do is produce the best product they can. And after watching the three episodes that aired before the cancellation, I really think they did their jobs. Now, if a quality product doesn't find his audience it's not really the writers/directors/producers fault.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now, if a quality product doesn't find his audience it's not really the writers/directors/producers fault.

My thoughts exactly. No-one wants anything with any depth anymore. Like was stated on "Doomsday Defence" "Who wants that? People want to be enlightened while they're being entertained." That's the name of the game. No one wants quality anymore. They just want something that'll sell.

Well, I learned long ago the futility of trying to be all things to all people. You can't please everybody.........though the networks try. And, since that's all they care about is being "Approved of" (geee... I thought we were out of grade school!) and the vast magority of the population has the attention span of a lawnmower and the depth of caracter of a troll............Well, this is the result.

Yes, as Scully once said "The truth may hurt, but it's ALL that MATTERS." :alien2:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
Guest Laurent.

Well, well, well... is there any chance of revival for this discussion or did it died prematurely just like the Realm itself? Just hoping this post will bring Selfosophy Psycho back so he can give me his final thoughts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...
Guest cw1925

I'm not the biggest fan, nor am I one to say it should have stopped airing. It had potential, although I have my criticisms (one of them being that this show was kind of boring). Also, this is an interesting topic for a series that has very few fans.

Anyways, to add to what was previously said, here are some of my arguments for the "real world" not really being the "real world":

  1. I agree that the crossing of swords in the beginning of the pilot did forshadow the later events of the episode (as was noted by the commentary given by Director Daniel Sackheim on the DVD). And they probably meant that Santiago had already taken over the world then, who knows?
  2. Notice that Virtual Sophie and Tom Hobbes have a seemingly psychic connection after Hobbes meets (for the first time in the virtual world) her. Try walking up to a complete stranger and convincing them that you are their husband/wife from another world, it ain't gonna happen.
  3. There's a copy of every person in the real world in Harsh Realm, yet no one even knows about the game other than the military. That's a lot of f***ing programming to do, and a ton of secrecy/coverups for the military to do. I propose that since this is not the hypothetical "real world", it's pretty easy for the real programmer to just copy everyone and download them into a new world and start over (even though that world, the virtual world, is already messed up). This theory thus allows them to copy and paste humans over and over into an infinite amount of "worlds".
  4. Think about it for a second, since Santiago controls the virtual world, and the US Army hasn't simply pulled the plug on the virtual world (they've already told all the families that they are dead anyways), then he has to be controlling the "real world" as well. They could easily pull the plug and leave Santiago helpless, yet they continuously need someone to be a savior and continue to risk more lives. I propose that Santiago has control of the virtual world and the "real world", and can not only travel between the two, but also to the "real world" as well. And Inga Fossa can only travel the two subworlds.
  5. When Tom is looking at Virtual Mrs. Hobbes's eyes, we can clearly see Real Sophie. And remember the dog? In the "real world", he died after he was downloaded, but in the virtual world he was still alive. Why did Virtual Mrs. Hobbes die at the exact same time Real Mrs. Hobbes did? They should have different deathdates. Does the "die in this world, you die in the other world" rule not pertain to animals?
  6. And finally, notice that the beginning of the pilot is overcast blue, much like the real world is portrayed in The Matrix. In the Matrix Revolutions, it's revealed that the real world is just another system that is in the hands of the "real world" Zero One. I'm sure that if this series had not been canceled, it would have eventually been revealed that the "real world" isn't the "real world" and that control lies elsewhere, even out of Santiago's hands. The virtual world is covered with forestry (green). The "real world" was yellow, and not even a hint at that had been written yet.
Edited by cw1925
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From what I've read, Harsh Realm had a hard time becoming popular because it competed against The Matrix at the theatres, yet the production of Harsh Realm started first. Below is the commentary I read, just case you fell like doing a lot of reading.

Harsh Realm, Fox Home Entertainment

Review by John C. Snider © 2004

Poor Chris Carter. His X-Files was a certifiable hit, running nine seasons on FOX, enjoying a successful run as a feature film, and spawning two short-lived spin-offs (Millennium and The Lone Gunmen). The X-Files was popular with general audiences, sci-fi fans and critics, earning a place as one of the greatest genre series of all time.

But nothing other than The X-Files seems to stick for Carter. Millennium stumbled along for three seasons (not a bad run, really). The Lone Gunmen lasted a mere 13 episodes. And Carter's non-X-Files project - Harsh Realm - couldn't get past three episodes before FOX canned it (six additional episodes eventually aired on sister channel FX).

Canadian actor Scott Bairstow is all-American Lieutenant Thomas Hobbes, a talented soldier ready to retire and marry his fiancée, the lovely Sophie (Samantha Mathis). At the last minute, Hobbes is "volunteered" to participate in a secret, super-sophisticated war game called "Harsh Realm" - a massive virtual reality system that is so detailed it purportedly duplicates every last man, woman and child on earth. The goal of the game: find and "kill" General Omar Santiago (Terry O'Quinn), a character modeled after a highly decorated Vietnam War vet.

Before he can answer yea-or-nay, Hobbes finds himself in Harsh Realm, immediately realizing that things are not as advertised. Harsh Realm's version of New York City has been destroyed by a briefcase nuke, plunging the virtual world into chaos. Santiago has seen his opportunity, establishing a safe (albeit dictatorial) haven called Santiago City, and has drawn up plans to gradual add territories to his control. Those inside Santiago City are happy, healthy and well-cared-for - as long as they don't challenge the General's rule. Those outside the City...well, they're on their own.

There's more. Hobbes has a run-in with a disillusioned former soldier named Mike Pinocchio (D. B. Sweeney), who tells Hobbes that he's just the latest in a long line of "players" who've entered the game to take out Santiago - and either died or joined up with the General. To make matters worse, Pinocchio claims that Santiago is in hiding in the real world, entering and exiting Harsh Realm at will, and the US military is powerless to find or stop him. Once his control of the Realm is ironclad, Pinocchio says, Santiago plans to trigger Armageddon in the real world! Better to reign in Hell and all that.

For a show that only made it to nine episodes, Harsh Realm is fascinating, extremely well-produced - and wholly frustrating in its incompleteness. Bairstow and Sweeney are a great duo; Bairstow's Hobbes with his boyscoutish can-do attitude, Sweeney's Pinocchio with his world-weary fatalism (but begrudgingly admission that Hobbes might actually succeed).

There are all sorts of interweaving plot threads that remained unresolved. Who exactly is Inga Fossa, the mysterious double agent whose intrigues span the real world and Harsh Realm? Is Santiago truly a real person, and if so, from where is he accessing the Realm? This show also explores issues of faith (to an extent that is surprising). Hobbes is ironically named after the 17th century philosopher who observed that life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." (Chris Carter's allusions to the philosopher don't end there - the Harsh Realm episode "Leviathan" is a reference to the philosopher's most famous book!)

Finally, there's the enigmatic sisterhood of mute healers called Manus Domini - and we see a priest who apparently survived the nuking of NYC from ground zero. Since we're told Santiago is officially an atheist, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened there.

Interestingly, the Harsh Realm pilot was shot before The Matrix was released, but when it aired afterward many incorrectly assumed it was a shameless attempt to clone the virtual reality behemoth. Equally interesting is the fact that the show is very, very, very loosely based on a comic book published by Harris Comics. Basically, the only thing the two share is a title and the fact that virtual reality is involved. Go figure.

So...Harsh Realm is a great show that died way before its time. What aired, aired, and it seems a dim, far-off hope that Carter will ever turn his attention toward it again - but now you can enjoy it on DVD! All nine episodes, plus optional commentaries on the pilot. And it's beautifully packaged in attractive red-and-black (although they misspelled the episode "Cincinnati" on the box). The only exasperating thing about watching these DVDs is knowing that there ain't no more. Still, it's great fun to watch it with friends - then speculate as to where it was all going!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using our website you consent to our Terms of Use of service and Guidelines. These are available at all times via the menu and footer including our Privacy Policy policy.