Sunday, August 23, 2009

But, what does it mean? Really?

The Film: District 9
The players: Sharlto Copley, and many others about whom you know nothing, or next to...
The Deal: Working largely undercover for many months, in South Africa, Peter Jackson et al, developed and filmed a hybrid: part metaphor, part sci-fi. A Statement, with a capital 'S' on both fronts.
See, many years ago, the Sig O (that would be you, Prendie) and I watched and adored a fantastic film which flew so successfully under the radar that pretty much no one ever saw it, despite a borderline A-list cast: Enemy Mine. I want to put it out there that D9 has at least a flavor of this film at its core.
But, oh! what a departure. This movie begins with a dramatic set- up: 20 years ago, an alien craft hoves into view above J'berg, South Africa. Showing incredible forbearance, the earthlings do nothing for 90 days. Then, sending multiple 'rescue teams' aboard the craft, ferry over 1 mill of the malnourished, close-to-dying aliens down to a restricted-and restrictive- zone known only as 'District 9'. It is directly beneath the shadow of the original craft, so, it is not much of a journey. And yet.
I know, I know, this is meant to symbolise many important and meaningful things. People tell me-with heartfelt conviction- that the thinly veiled reference is to everything from Abu Graib to Apartheid. I say: OK. Whatever works for you. I had thoughts of things like the concentration camps (probably d/t having seen Inglourious Basterds yesterday). But, my thought, my major thought, is this: it really doesn't matter. What matters is picking something that has meaning and relevance to YOU. That is pretty key to having this movie strike any deeper core in you. If what you see is simply 'a really bee-chong sci-fi actioner', then have at it. Aces.
Here's what I saw (please, feel free to pelt me with rocks and garbage): I felt that this was the story of a man, (our main dude, Sharlto Copley), who prides himself on being an open-minded, civilised human, who just got handed the promotion of his dreams. And, yet. I couldn't help but notice that he still calls his closest cohort- a man who stands up for him so vehemently that he winds up in trouble with his employers and the law- 'boy'. Who insists that he take the only bullet-proof vest available, while his 'buddy' will be okay without.
Throughout the length of this film, we get to see dramatic- and a bit scary- transformations. As with Enemy Mine. I am not talking merely about the changes, the very real, and frightening, changes that occur within 15 minutes of the beginning of the film. I refer you to the changes that occur when, mentally, when psychologically, our hero finds that, although he is fighting for his survival, basically everyone else is engaged in a similar battle, and their battles pale into insignificance next to his. Ones that mean more than this or that side winning, but whether society can go on without major changes taking place...and taking hold.
OK, ok, I know what you are thinking: did she like this film or not? Here's the answer: 1) 'Like' is inappropriate to this situation. Let me stew on this a bit, and I will get back to you. 2) I learned something from this film. I learned that we all face really tough decisions everyday. We just don't think they are very important until something comes along to knock us out of our rut. 3) Hey, not to be tedious, but you really need to see Enemy Mine. And, if, by the last 10 minutes, you are not weeping like a baby watching Old Yeller bite it......well, I guess you and I have a problem. The Grading Session: 4.5 stars out of 5. After extracting the meaning from this piece, it is important to recall all the celluloid spatter and gee-gaws that could have been pruned from the film without a half-penny sacrifice to the intent of the whole.
Lessons Learned: When all is said and done, we are all saps for innocent child-geniuses, no matter their species. As long as they don't actually kill us. Or wipe out the universe. Also, it is far too tempting, and self-congratulating to see ourselves as fully evolved, prejudice-free spirits...even when our daily lives do not bear this out.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review. Kara (my Sig O) and I saw it today. Kara hated it and I liked it... And for some reason we were both unable to defend our stances. I'm going to have her read this, thus - basically stealing your analysis of the film as my defense. But seriously, I couldn't have said it better myself.