Nirvana (1997)


Nirvana (1997)-Gabriele Salvatores

Image: Vittorio Cecchi Gori


We will inaugurate this section with a classic from the nineties “Nirvana”. A film that we really love and which interpretates quite good some of our worries about the future. One of them is the possiblity that the human population could be strongly divived between people who have access to technology and people who don’t. Ano

ther one is tthat we might not be able to deal properly with the possibility that machines develop consiousness.


Its context

Nirvana, by Gabriele Salvatores, is a classic expression of the 90´science fiction films. It is pure cyberpunk stuff, as most of the Sciencfiction movies were back then. A world full of cybercriminality, war between super-powerful companies and segregation of the population. All this iscombined, off course, with a very dark atmosphere.



It is the year 2005 and the world is a dark place. People are living most of time physically connected with their computers. Humans are already becoming cyborgs, not because they want to develop, but because it is the cheapest way to survive. Programmers are on top of the social leader given the fact that reality is becoming more and more virtual. Everybody agrees that the world is not a nice place to live in.

Nirvana is not just the name of the movie, but also the name of a game that a company, Okosama Sta, will be releasing for Christmas. Okosama Sta is a huge international conglomerate, which controls a part of the world and employs our main character, Jimmy.

Jimmy is not just the best programmer of the company, but also in charge of the development of this new game. He had just broken up with his girlfriend and is living in a constant sensation of meaninglessness and tiresomeness. His state of uncertainty makes it hard for him to find inspiration to finish his game, Nirvana.

The fading inspiration opens him up to new things, to look for something else, a way to inspire himself, to search for something that his own life lacks.

Jimmy wants to see more, he starts to think about the “other side of the world”, that he in his comfortable life might have been missing. He has just began to wonder about life and its meaning when he discovers the fact that one of the characters that he has created for the video game claims to be aware. That development makes things fall apart for him and allows us to follow him to his new path. This new path will not just take him to the dark ghettos of this cyberpunk futurist world but also to confront those deep questions about the meaning of life itself.

What is the meaning of all that? Of being rich and famous if you feel that your life sucks. This kind of question is present the whole time during the film and explains why the movie is called Nirvana. It isactually about the search for the meaning of life.


Main Ideas

This is what the movie is about: awareness. We humans, have strongly denied the possibility of other species beeing conscious. The film provoces us to deal with this question, specifically in regards to machines and software.

What would we do if we start to hear our machines claiming to be conscious beings?

What would be our position toward the freedom of things that we currently own if we would know that they are aware?

These same kind of questions will be taken up by „Matrix“ some years later and are still part of our current thoughts, when it comes to the future. This is one the reasons we recommend so strongly to watch this film.

Random Things
  • Even though this is a low budget film, they make a huge effort for offering us some Sciencefiction-effects.
  • This is a pure Italian film, so be prepared for some screaming.
  • Christopher Lambert plays the main role, which is just like him, do not expect many emotions to be revealed.
  • The cultural-religious ghettos were quite an original idea by that time and since then it has been taken over by many modern authors.
  • The soundtrack is really cool and we would like to share it with you here.

Author: María Sanhueza

Expat, loving science as well as the humanities, wine and coffee. Athlete and addicted to reading. “If you re afraid of drowning while crossing the river which might seem too wide and fast at this point, then, you’ll need to go back and cross it at its origin until me, yourself or someone else can build the foundation that can give form to a huge bridge which will make the trip possible to everybody”