Directed by Andrea Ashton and initially created as part of the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge in New York City, GREATER GOOD is a thought-provoking short that addresses the classic ethics situation, ‘the trolley problem.’
If you’re not familiar, the general situation is that you see a runaway trolley moving toward five people tied-up on the tracks. You’re near a lever that controls the switch. If you pull the lever, the trolley will be redirected onto a side track, and the five people on the main track will be saved. However, there is a single person on the side track. Do you choose option one – do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track, or option 2 – pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person? The million dollar question is ‘which is the more ethical option?’ The kicker in this short is that the choice falls on a new mother, and her selection will decide whether her daughter lives or dies.
Reminiscent of Black Mirror or even Minority Report, GREATER GOOD follows Madeline Knight (played by Miranda Plant), an expectant mother who gets startling news about who her unborn daughter will grow up to be. While working on a family scrapbook, Madeline gets unexpected visitors, a doctor from the US Department of Alternate Timelines, and a young woman that she later discovers is her daughter Isabelle, but from the future. Future Isabelle has committed an atrocious crime and the doctor wants Madeline to consent to terminate her pregnancy, for the greater good.
GREATER GOOD was written, shot and edited in only three days. No money was spent on the production and everyone that worked on it volunteered their time. Knowing this going into the film made me feel a little more forgiving with my thoughts about it. Some plot holes were likely just due to the shortage of time. What about her husband’s opinion? How does she know the doctor is who she says she is? Why did Isabelle do what she did, and did the victims, as she said, “deserve to die?” The short was quick to develop Madeline as a relatable and kind person, someone the viewer would sympathize with. It was beautifully shot, and the handheld camera operation helped add to the humanity of the situation portrayed. A couple of lines of dialogue were difficult to decipher but weren’t detrimental to my understanding of the story as a whole.
Overall, at just a little over 8-minute time commitment, GREATER GOOD is worth a watch. It accomplishes what I imagine the creators set out to do – make the viewers ponder a popular moral topic in a more accessible format.
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