The Host. What does it mean to be Human?

In my opinion, Stephenie Meyer might be one the best authors out there. She has the ability to end a story properly that few can emulate. Whilst her stories are predominantly love stories she really does examine some great themes, we all know Twilight and whether we love or hate it, the way she ends all the loops and themes is just so right, or the love between torturer and tortured in ‘The Chemist’ is just so ‘right’.

However, the topics she deals with in the host are worth serious discussion and philosophising as any story or film as I have enjoyed, or endured for that matter. Let me explain.

Earth has been invaded by ‘souls’. Souls use human beings as hosts so that they can live, having no real physical entity themselves. Thus, they need us to survive. Once a human body is inhabited, they take over the mind of that body and live in a calm environmentally friendly way. An almost hive mind, no ego or extreme emotion is present. They also have a mission, to inhabit all the humans so that the Earth is safe from us. As you can imagine, the surviving humans are far from happy about this.

The film centres around the hybrid combination of Melanie and Wanda, Melanie is the host and Wanda the ‘soul’.  Melanie, however, is still very present in her mind and there is an obvious conflict present as each mind tries to influence the other.

There is also conflict among the surviving humans as to how she should be treated.  There are those that would just kill her straight away, and are brutal to her, resulting in the phrase, ‘just because she is not human does not mean we have to stop acting human’. Pause for thought right there. 

How should we behave when we become scared or threatened and we let fear control the choices we make? At what point do we let our humanity go and focus on self-preservation?

If at all.

And is the perceived threat a threat?

Especially if the exhibited behaviour does not fit the pattern, or perceived pattern.   

One of cast is Jared, he was in love with Melanie when she was ‘human’, he is totally confused by the appearance of the human soul hybrid and as most of us do when confused he becomes angry. He is at first, unable to believe that Melanie is very alive inside the hybrid and part of the plot revolves around this.

Then there’s Ian, he is attracted by the personality and physique of Melanie/Wanda.  He’s gone from totally hostile to very tolerant, whilst trying to work out what is acceptable.  What he can love and what he can’t. Or should or shouldn’t.

Then in the middle of all this is Melanie/Wanda, as Wanda says, ‘Melanie is in love with Jared, so this body is in love with Jared, but I’m Wanda and I’m not in love with him, it’s very confusing’.

Eventually, as Wanda comes to understand the human position, and to be fair, the humans become to understand hers, she shows them how to take a ‘soul’ from a body, as she says, ‘it’s done with love’.  They begin extracting souls from bodies and letting them return to worlds where their invasion is a positive experience.

This then begs the question, should Wanda be extracted from Melanie and also sent on. Wanda says ‘yes’, and requires that, as the deal, to be able to extract a ‘soul’ from others.  The humans, on finding out all try to talk her out of it. Wanda has none of it. Deal done.

Except it isn’t, when extracting a soul from one body the mind did not return, so they put Wanda in there and when she awoke, she looked like someone else.  She’d given that body life.

So many questions.

What is human? A physical entity? A mind?

If you change the physical entity housing a mind, do you love the mind, or the body?

How much of love is skin deep?

Could you love a hybrid?

Where’s the line between emotional freedom and harmony?

We have a right to freedom and to be ourselves, don’t we?

Who gives the right to judge another species and remove its freewill?

There are so many questions. I don’t have the answers, but I love the discussions.

Watch the movie, its fabulous, even at surface level, but when you dig a little deeper it’s intoxicating.

Let me know what you think?

Simon Pollard Urban  Countryman July 2024

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