Being a Sci-Fi/Classic Horror fan aficionado it’s interesting that while, on the surface level, these films oftentimes depict fantastical-phantasmagorical imagery—sometimes (if the script is good) there is also an underlying theme behind the tale that offers a deepened-insight into the human condition. One such classic Sci-fi tale is the 1963 vehicle “The Man with the X-ray Eyes”, or as it was originally titled, simply “X”—starring the veteran actor Ray Milland. While the FX are pale in comparison to even today’s standard industry effects, the strength of the storyline—accompanied with a classic cast (like Harold Stone and Don Rickles)…and even the “weird contact-lenses” that Milland wore in the film (ground-breaking in its day) still stand-up today. As a kid, the closing 10 minutes of the film sent shivers up my spine—and the effect still stands today…it’s very freaky! The story concerns a doctor/scientist (Milland) who develops a special “eye-drop” that gives him superior-x-ray vision; he can see through objects, people (there are some comical-scenes early-on when Milland can see through the clothing of women)…and by the end…his new-found-vision empowers him to see even into the depths of the cosmos itself—yet there are terrible consequences! Quite alone (within his own head) at the end of the film and driving erratically on a highway (he can see into the atomic structure of the road and the surrounding scenery) he takes a spin and crashes; coming to his senses, he wanders (when he hears the sound of singing) into a traveling side-show religious revival tent. Hearing the ranting of the fundamentalist preacher (wish they had cast John Carradine in the role—he would have been superb!) Milland walks up to him (with others who are coming up the aisle to receive their “healing-touch”) and rants out to the preacher with the following lines concerning his unique x-ray vision “second-sight”:
“I see too deep and too much! There are great darknesses … as far off as time itself – and they are coming … coming to destroy all our world … Larger than the stars — than galaxies of stars, they’re coming …And, at the center of it all, there is a shimmering eye of light—and it just watches—staring back at us!!!”
Well, of course his ranting offends the fundamentalist preacher who shouts back at him with the biblical injunction… “If thy eye offends thee—pluck it out!!!” Milland, quite at the end of his tethers, stares-back wildly and shouts—“PLUCK THEM OUT!!!” then the film freeze-frames with his remaining empty eye-sockets! Quite a freaky thing!!!
This can even be looked-upon as a little parable for the rabid “seeker of truth” who, through one’s incessant searching, can literally find oneself quite alone—with the mind turned inwards so to speak—staring into the very heart of the abyss—yet, so alone—with no support of any kind!!! Then the only thing left to do with that incessant spinning-mind maze is to pluck the whole damn thing out!!! Pluck-it-all-out so that one can at least find some semblance of peace from all of the erratic and endless searching for the eye of truth in the center of the cosmos! In so doing, the rabid-searcher can oftentimes drag everyone around them into the awful abyss with them. “PLUCK-IT ALL OUT!!!”
Thank you, fascinating read. – Perhaps I’ll see the movie.
This reminds me of a sci-fi series called Battlestar Galactica, it’s very interesting in some ways. In that universe, humans (Earthlings) are pagans that believe in many gods, but robots/cyborgs believe are monotheistic; they are all connected to one super-computer they simply call “God”. In one episode, one of the cylons/robots says something that reminded me of that quote from “X”:
“To know the face of God is to know madness. I see the universe. I see the patterns. I see the foreshadowing that precedes every moment of every day.”