Science fiction film from 2001, K-PAX was directed by Iain Softley and inspired by the homonymous novel by Gene Brewer, the first of a five book series. With a budget of 68 million dollars, it premiered in October 2001 in the United States, while Italians had to wait untill January 2002 to see it.

Prot (Kevin Spacey) ends up in a  psychiatric clinic, because he claims to come from a planet, distant 1000 light years from earth and belonging to the constellation Lyra,  named K-PAX. The doctor Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges) who treats him, tries to dig into Prot’s past to establish what trauma could possibly have caused his personality disorder. Digging deeper into his patient’s mind, the doctor realises that Prot really is something special, to the point of defining him “the most convincing paranoid he’d ever treated”. Prot appears sensitive to light and capable of seeing wave lengths not captabile by the human eye, like ultraviolet rays. He also seems to have a deep knowledge of astronomy and the cosmo, he’s so convincing that he is tested to see if he’s telling the truth. During his stay at the clinic he bonds with all the other patients, even the most wary and problematic, also he announces that on returning to his own planet he would take another person with him. He even assignes three tasks to one of them promising them complete recovery in the event of their success. At this point, doctor Powell decide to take him home, hoping that in a hospitable environment he may reveal something about his past. This is where Prot starts to give signals of recovery.

An incredible Kevin Spacey, who is perfectly suited for the role of the “alien”, and an equally stunning performance by Jeff Bridges, who plays an insecure psychiatrist full of doubts when faced with the facts.

Points of interest:

– the film has been described as a philosophic science fiction: the philosophic part given by the elements of  Friedrech Nietzsche’s  concept of “eternal return”, and his theories on “the ego” and “being”.

We shall quote a passage of the film as evidence: “ I wanna tell you something Mark, something you do not yet know, that we K-PAXians have been around long enough to have discovered. The universe will expand, then it will collapse back on itself, then will expand again. It will repeat this process forever. What you don’t you know is that when the universe expands again, everything will be as it is now. Whatever mistakes you make this time around, you will live through on your next pass. Every mistake you make, you will live through again,and again, forever. So my advice to you is to get it right this time around. Because this time is all you have.”

– Prot describes K-PAXian society as free of social ranking, but also free of laws regulating social living, stating “Every being in the universe knows right from wrong”.Also he says another sentence rich of meaning while talking to a patient, telling him: “All beings have the capacity to cure themselves, Mark. This is something we’ve known on K-PAX for millions of years”. In conclusion, lot’s of information to dwell on!

Tiziano Padovani

 Traductor Susan Maria Sica