Never Let Me Go is a 2010 film directed by Mark Romanek and adapted from the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.
It appears to me that there are two types of good science fiction movies. Those which visually invents a world either speculative or metaphorical which strike us for its inventivity; and the others that do not allow any kind of special effects, and introduce a plot within our world which thus moves us for the proximity of this depicted society. Never Let Me Go is part of this last category, probably the hardest and mastered, in my opinion, by Fahrenheit 451, the Francois Truffaut’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name.
The film starts in the 1970’s in a country school boarding school separated from the world. Classes and the general atmosphere is similar to what we know of boarding schools at this time, except that we very quickly understand that all those children do not have parents and are destined to become organ donors until they complete (die) after a certain amount of donations. The story thus follows three of those children in their youth, experiencing love and friendship just like any other human being.
The others are actually very rarely present in this movie, and one could see in this fact, the lost of humanity in those who created, in order to serve them, un-humans who end up being the only representatives of humanity. This film illustrates the institutionalization of the production of exclusion in which Michel Foucault was eminently interested and that he investigated in several of his books like The Birth of the Clinic in 1963 and The History of Sexuality in 1976. In this case, the exclusion is even more vicious as it is re-included within the system in an absolute scheme of exploitation from one category to another. It is interesting to see that this same exploitation is integrated and accepted thanks to a shift of terminology. Those donors do not die, they complete and they are said to donate their organs as if they actually chose it. Of course, the fact that this society does not necessarily implies a new architecture seems to be less interesting for architects; however this shift of terminology interests us as citizen as this occur on a daily basis in our current society; also one should be careful about the way architecture is dealt with in this film. It is very subtle but the heterotopic Victorian Boarding School to the austere (yet really intriguing I have to say) post-modern concrete hospital via the typical English coastal houses reproduced several time along the street, without being inherently linked to this specific system, carry very appropriately the dehumanized space of this society .