LOVE. Science Fiction Masterpiece or Pretentious Kitsch?

“Love” was funded by members of the rock group Angels & Airwaves, who entrusted the direction to debutant William Eubank.

Maciej Kaczmarski

3 June 2024


The creators of “Love” drew upon the classics of science fiction, aiming to create a timeless work about the enigma of human existence. What came of it?

In 1864, during the Civil War, a Union soldier is sent on a mission to investigate a mysterious structure that appeared near a battlefield. Almost two hundred years later, in 2039, astronaut Lee Miller is sent alone to the International Space Station, abandoned two decades earlier; soon after arriving, he loses contact with Earth. Miller finds photos of former crew members and the journal of the soldier who fought in the Civil War and was assigned the mission to explore the unknown object. After six years without contact with Earth, which likely experienced some cataclysm, Miller decides to commit suicide by leaving the station, drifting slowly towards Earth, and burning up in its atmosphere. However, a mysterious structure materializes near the ISS, the same one investigated by the soldier two centuries earlier.

“Love” was funded by members of the rock group Angels & Airwaves, who entrusted the direction to debutant William Eubank. The novice filmmaker received $500,000 and built a replica of the space station in his family’s garden using materials purchased from Home Depot: fiberboards, cooler bags, Christmas lights, mineral wool, a toolbox, washing machine parts, Velcro, and various household items. Eubank also personally dug Civil War-era trenches using an excavator borrowed from a neighbor. The production of the film lasted over four years; “Love” premiered in February 2011 at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. A few months later, the film was shown in several hundred cinemas in the USA as part of a multimedia show titled “Love Live.”


Despite the creators’ ambition to create a masterpiece of science fiction about isolation, loneliness, human connections, and the titular emotion, “Love” resembles Dr. Frankenstein’s monster—a creation stitched together from various elements and brought to life in the hope that it would somehow function. It does not function: there is essentially no plot or character development, and scenes with the astronaut are interspersed with statements from anonymous people, sequences from the Civil War era, and random images like “a pensive man in a meadow” and “a sunset over the ocean.” “Love” is a pale shadow of, among others, Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” (1972), Steven Soderbergh’s “Solaris” (2002), Duncan Jones’ “Moon” (2009), and Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” (2011). The finale is a blatant (and very, very clumsy) plagiarism of the memorable ending of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968).

Pretentious shots, meant to convince the viewer that they are engaging with High Art dealing with Serious Issues, are accompanied by unbearably pompous clichés: “People need people”; “You can plan life, but you don’t know how it will turn out”; “To be afraid, you must be alive”; “You must live, because life goes on”; “A person wants to make their own decisions”; “The most precious thing for living beings is a sense of connection”; “When love comes unexpectedly, it gets interesting”; and my favorite, “There are no seasons. There is only time.” This is philosophy straight out of self-help books for housewives (with all due respect to these hardworking women) and Paulo Coelho’s novels. It’s a shame the creators did not read Milan Kundera—they would have known what the Czech-French writer once noted: “The world where shit is denied and everyone behaves as if it did not exist is an aesthetic ideal called kitsch.”