Under the Skin, written by Michel Faber and later, as a film, directed by John Glazer with screen adaptation support from Walter Campbell proved to be a hauntingly ambiguous, serenely horrifying, yet deeply moving and liberating experience for me. One gist of the story, in both formats, allows us to follow a young woman (an alien disguised as human) who 'hunts' men as prey for her species who use humans as food. As she wanders the bleak roads of the Scottish highlands in the winter time of the story, the lone, alienated creature comes up against her own emotional life, her vulnerability, her dreadful life work and a new experience of compassion and awareness of her personal value. When this happens, she can no longer follow the hive instinct to kill indiscriminately and cold-heartedly. She must leave her own species, but that ultimately involves leaving life. In the film she finds refuge in the great forests, the seaside, the snowfall; in the book she relates to the purity, beauty and grandeur of the same magnificent Nature.
By leaving her destructive and alienated lifestyle, she is then faced with her own relationship to herself and to the Greatness. In the film, we witness her demise in a bright burst of flame blazing against the pure whiteness of snow on the forest valley. In the book, her demise takes the form of deliberate suicide which is an act of liberation and an embrace of all that the beauty of Nature offers her:
The atoms that had been herself would mingle with the oxygen and nitrogen in the air. Instead of ending up buried in the ground, she would become part of the sky: that was the way to look at it. Her invisible remains would combine, over time, with all the wonders under the sun. When it snowed, she would be part of it, falling softly to earth, rising up again with a the snow's evaporation. When it rained, she would be there in the spectral arch that spanned from firth to ground. She would help to wreathe the fields in mist, and yet would always be transparent to the stars. She would live forever. All it took was the courage to press one button, and the faith that the connection had not been broken.
She reached forward a trembling hand.
'Here I come,' she said.
This wonderfully crafted story does not mentioned the word love once, yet, as a 'hunter' and a 'traveller', the main character becomes a symbol for the seeker on the journey of life. As she gradually awakens to become a sensitive human, the reality she seeks, although not apparent in her consciousness, leads her to a peaceful, loving resolution of her life. In the book, she responds to the magnificent beauty, peace and grandeur of Life in Nature; in the film she actually becomes one with herself as she is physically, without struggle or resistance, incinerated into the serene landscape.
The end of the alien woman's life becomes a testimony to the presence of Love, and our essential need for Love in this journey of life. Love is ever present; whether we deserve it, know it, seek it, or ignore, it does not fail.