“No one else would dare to write such beautiful arias and such a Romantic story in the 2010s.”
– Perttu Kivilaakso and Eicca Toppinen
– Perttu Kivilaakso and Eicca Toppinen
A global pharmaceutical corporation, CoOpCo, has developed a drug named Serenide. It enhances productivity, as its users can function with only two hours of sleep per night. However, seven years later disastrous side effects begin to emerge: users can no longer sleep at all, and they lose their sanity and physical health. The development of the drug involved a machine that allows deep probing of the human mind. Yet the deepest level of the sub-conscious, accessing which would have ensured the safety of Serenide, was never attained. One of the scientists died in the testing.
Daniel, one of the inventors of the testing machine, retreated into solitude years ago after losing his friend and colleague Carl and wants nothing more to do with the corporation. Myrna, Carl’s widow, begs Daniel for his help so that the testing can be begun again. Daniel refuses.
Then Daniel sees a vision of Aurelia, who was his lover and also employed at the pharmaceutical corporation. Aurelia intends to sacrifice herself, taking a new test to obtain a new and better set of test results. This would save CoOpCo from ruin.
At the headquarters of the corporation, Daniel’s father Dr Hackert and CoOpCo CEO Mrs Swanson ponder whether to resume testing. Dr Hackert is against re-testing because of how dangerous the test is. While he admits to being the developer of the drug, liability lies with the corporation that released the unfinished product on the market. The Minister of Propaganda and the General arrive with the information that the casualty count is rising alarmingly. Mrs Swanson orders the test to commence regardless of its risks.
Outside, a rioting crowd of Serenide victims protests violently against the corporation. Myrna is among the protesters, and the security guards abuse and detain her. Daniel brings Dr Hackert a recording that reveals what happened to Carl.
Aurelia is preparing for the test when Daniel suddenly arrives. Aurelia declares herself fully committed to the research of CoOpCo, but as Daniel confesses his feelings for her, their love is rekindled.
Daniel shows Mrs Swanson, the General and others the recording of Carl’s death. He tells them of the decision to try to go down to Indigo level, which controls dreams. Only there could they obtain the results that are needed to fix the Serenide drug.
Daniel insists on taking the test instead of Aurelia. Mrs Swanson orders the test to proceed despite the protestations of Dr Hackert and Aurelia. Aurelia starts up the machine: it cycles through the Orange level to Yellow, Green and Blue. The test can no longer be aborted once Blue level is reached. Aurelia begs Daniel to come back, but Daniel says that he is doing this on behalf of all the victims of Serenide.
Daniel seems to have entered a different world. It seems to the observers that he has recognised something familiar with which he attempts to communicate.
Daniel lies unconscious in the machine. He is stuck at Blue level, and his life is in danger. Aurelia discontinues the test. Dr Hackert is forced to admit how serious the situation is. The crowd outside becomes an angry mob. Aurelia regrets her action, because the test had not progressed far enough.
Mrs Swanson demands that the test be continued at any cost. Dr Hackert and Aurelia argue for abandoning the test, but they are overruled. Daniel is now propelled further towards an unknown area of his sub-conscious. Aurelia and Dr Hackert are convinced that Daniel will die.
Daniel finds himself in a mysteriously beautiful landscape that is somehow familiar although he has never seen it before. He also meets Carl, who seems at once familiar and completely alien. Daniel asks Carl to return, but Carl refuses, because he says he controls the world in which they are now. Daniel is increasingly astonished as Carl presents himself as the absolute ruler of his world, a god. Daniel no longer recognises his former friend. Suddenly Carl falls listlessly to the ground. Carl says that he cannot return and that the two of them are now in Carl’s mind. The Ancient Child appears and takes Carl away. Daniel cannot understand what is happening. He does not even know whether he is alive or dead.
Myrna is dragged into a cell in the basement of CoOpCo. The security guards prepare to continue their physical abuse of her, but Myrna defiantly demands that they release her. Dr Hackert intervenes at the last moment. He frees Myrna and apologises for everything he has done.
The mob is enraged, demanding that the guilty party come forth. Aurelia, monitoring the test, notices that Daniel’s vital signs have disappeared. Dr Hackert, having lost his son, has no reason to live. He curses his fate, decides to sacrifice himself and gives himself up to the mob, which duly lynches him. Myrna is powerless to do anything but watch all this.
Mrs Swanson arrives to address the mob. She puts all blame firmly on Dr Hackert and explains that the test machine is being decommissioned. Mrs Swanson promises a fix to the side effects of Serenide, and the crowd is satisfied.
Having been released, Myrna encounters Aurelia in the laboratory: the monstrous machine has robbed them both of a loved one. Myrna now wants to destroy the machine, but Aurelia argues that the Serenide victims must first be saved. Indigo level has still not been attained. Aurelia prepares to take the test, in hopes of meeting Daniel again. Although Myrna is determined to destroy the machine, she launches the final, secret test.
Daniel and Aurelia meet in another dimension. They do not know whether it is real or not, but it no longer matters. They both hail love as the only true goal, the meaning of life. At that moment, the entire environment takes on an indigo colour. Aurelia and Daniel understand that they are now immersed in their love.
Suddenly, Daniel feels a pain in his head and tells Aurelia that he must go. Confused, Aurelia looks on as the Ancient Child appears again and leads Daniel away.
See what you like: choose your favourites on this season’s rich menu.
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