District 9 (2009)

District 9 is the first science fiction film where extraterrestrials are in a worse condition than humans, less frightening, more to be sorry about their fate. There is a very good reason behind this, but let us not start the revelations right from the start!

The movie is filmed in a mixed way, something between a documentary and a fiction tale, where several people present their point of view as the story evolves. A very good plot where action, emotion and thought are well-balanced.

The director, Neill Blomkamp places the tale in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was born. Unfortunately nothing much may be told without revealing the film’s plot. So, before seeing the film, keep in mind that there is a lot more than the action taking place. Some things are really strange and make one wonder why they happen. After seeing it, may be, you want to see another interpretation of the film, below the rating 🙂

My rating: 08/10

To start with, I did like the poster: the picture of an alien used as target practice. “You are not welcome here”, that’s the truth, they are not. Whatever is different is not welcome in an organized society.

The analysis that follows does not aim at describing the plot. It aims at providing a different angle regarding the plot’s interpretation.

The main character, Wikus Van De Merwe, represents a person well-integrated into a multinational company. His father-in-law gives him the opportunity to “show what he made of” and puts him in charge of a huge operation: the eviction of 1.800.000 aliens from the slam they were forced to live in, to an area where they are supposed to live better.  Wikus starts as a ruthless oppressor, using any possible means to achieve his goal. He uses bribery and extortion with no second thought, he kills alien unborns while making jokes. An infection from an alien canister however starts a genetic change that will make him an alien at the end.

This is where the fun begins. The canister contains a fuel. At the same time, it also the agent responsible for the genetic change. The same thing that will help the aliens go home,  is also the agent that changes the genetic structure of Wikus. Isn’t that interesting? Well, one does not have to encounter such a canister to change his mind about things: there are books, discussions, film reviews(!!!!), etc.

Obviously, once Wikus is infected, his value as a “good” employee of MNU (the multinational company) or even as a son-in-law is lost. He is just a piece of meat, a guinea pig to hands of those testing alien weapons. He can operate them both with the alien and the human arm!

His body must be slashed to pieces in order to be used as first class material in the creation of biotechnology weapons. What is called civilization does not actually exist: both groups, scientists in MNU and criminals in district 9 have the same goal and the same methods to get there. The goal is to obtain Wikus’s power and the means is dismembering! It does not matter if he screams that this will not give them what they want: they have made up their minds…Does it ring a bell? An individual has a number of skills, needs and tendencies that need to be expressed. But to make our living only parts of us have “value” for our society and we are paid for them…

What is also interesting is the fact that aliens have in their possession advanced weapons that humans cannot use. Instead of using those, at least to stop their abuse by humans, they … exchange them for … cat food! They are also shown to act foolishly, trying to steal from each other a piece of food (hmm, need to review my CV again and rehearse my interview responses to get that position!), while the main problem is elsewhere: in the exploitation by the criminals, the oppression by the State and the MNU.

Once Wikus escapes, the State presents a threatening and disgusting image of him to the public in order to isolate and alienate him. That works for them just fine with the exception that he gets together with those he was initially oppressing! Life has its turns…

After seeing this film, I looked for other movies Neill Blomkamp made. Tempbot is an amazing 16 min short film (you may google it using ‘Neill Blomkamp Tempbot’ –  a link may go dead after a while) and Alive in Joburg is another one, a predecessor of District 9.

Isn’t it wonderful that this director managed to put such films through the commercial distribution channels?

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