by Brian Culkin
Of all the thematic binarities Ex-Machina employs to develop its narrative–man vs machine, morality vs power, secrets vs transparency–it is the one never overtly spoken of that has the most profound effect. For in this binarity, the mise en scene of the entire film, the primal dialectic of nature (the pure and untouched natural world, that is) is confronted with the digital. The traditional opposition, on the other hand, of nature vs. technology has always been articulated through the confrontation of nature with specifically analog technologies such as oil spills, factory pollution, and toxic waste, which most often serve as our metaphors for this hostile relationship of nature vs. man made technologies. It is an obvious, and by now well-worn thematic opposition, namely that nature is clean, while technology is dirty.