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"Powder" (1995): Was Powder an Alien?

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Lee has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.


Powder is a 1995 fantasy drama film about a boy who possesses strange and mystical powers. It stars Sean Patrick Flanery as Jeremy "Powder" Reed, an albino boy who is incredibly intelligent and possesses supernatural powers.

I'm not sure why, but I've always been secretly in love with this film. Perhaps because I love films about misunderstood outsiders who are too pure for our dark world. Jeremy is certainly one of those outsiders. His intelligence, appearance, and supernatural powers ostracize him the second he sets foot off his grandparents' farm.

But one thing I've never really understood about Jeremy is who he is supposed to be. With Edward Scissorhands, there was some backstory explaining how he came to be: he was invented by a genius who died before he could finish him.

With Powder, however, there is no such explanation. The film doesn't take the initiative to hold your hand. Instead, it leaves the mystery of Powder's being up to your imagination.

Due to the film's ambiguous nature, a lot of people have come up with theories about who and what Powder is, why he was born, and why he came to Earth. Some people have even compared Powder to the story of Jesus Christ.

After all, Christ was persecuted on all sides, had supernatural powers, and was filled with an overwhelming sense of compassion for others. But I find it hard to agree with this interpretation.

The Christ was posed as having some kind of mission, but Powder doesn't seem to have a mission. When he arrives on Earth, he doesn't really help many people.

Sure, he gives Deputy Harley Duncan (Brandon Smith) a change of heart after forcing him to see how cruel it is to hunt for sport, but by the end of the film, the deputy goes right back to being an asshole.

Powder likewise shows unconditional love and compassion for John Box (Bradford Tatum), a boy who bullies him relentlessly at the boy's home where he now lives. Powder saves John's life after the boy had already threatened him with a gun and tried to kill him during a storm. But like the deputy, John Box doesn't seem to have a real change of heart. At least, we don't see the aftermath of any epiphanies in the film.

This seems to indicate that Powder wasn't there to teach people to be better people. Powder was on Earth to simply learn about humans and observe their behavior.

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In fact, it is my theory that Powder was a Starseed.

Among the spiritual community, a Starseed is a person who incarnated on Earth from another planet or dimension. Some come here with a mission to help the planet, while others simply come to learn from the planet, moving among humans and observing.

These people are usually ancient beings who have lived a very long time, sometimes living multiple lives on Earth. Because of this, they are very intelligent and compassionate individuals, often possessing psychic powers of telepathy and empathy.

The Starseed theory was actually explored in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Deanna Troi is impregnated by an ancient alien being who simply wants to be born human so that he can observe our world.

It often takes Starseeds years to remember they are actually from another planet or that they have lived past lives. When they do remember, they often wish they could go home, as they have likely never fit in or belonged among humans. In fact, many Starseeds feel so out of place, they joke that they are "aliens" long before they realize the truth.

Powder spends pretty much the entire film saying he wants to "go home." At first, it appears that he's talking about his grandparents' farm. Indeed, he tries running away to the farm and even demands to know what has become of it.

And yet, even after Powder learns the farm is in probate, he continues to say that he wants to go home. It would seem that he is realizing "home" was never really his grandparents' farm.

By the end of the film, Powder has realized that "home" is not even on this planet. He runs out into the field with open arms, waiting for the lightning to take him -- and it does.

The reason why Powder disappears when the lightning strikes him (rather than falling down crumpled and burnt) is because he has been taken body and soul back to his own world. It is what he kept calling for, longing for, and finally, someone answered.

That's my theory, anyway. We are all free to believe what we will, to interpret entertainment how we will.

And it behooves us to disagree respectfully with the nerdy film theories of others.

© 2019 Lee

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