District 9 (2009)
By Hervé St-Louis
December 31, 2014 - 22:02
Studios: TriStar Pictures, Block / Hanson, WingNut Films
Writer(s): Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Starring: Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Produced by: Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham
Running Time: 112 minutes
Release Date: 14 August 2009
Rating: R (Restricted)
Distributors: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Shrimp-like aliens land in Johannesburg, South Africa and mixwith the local population creating a subculture of cat food loving lazy dwellers that are trapped in a special part of the city. Relationships between the aliens and locals are bad. They are about to get weirder when local clerk Wikus Van De Merwe has to move the prawns from their current slum to another one outside of Johannesburg. Merwe becomes infected with a compound that slowly transforms him into an alien capable of wielding their technology. Will the prawns accept him as one of their own or will Merwe be captured by the industrial-military establishment of South Africa to harvest alien technology?
For some reason, I thought that I had reviewed this film when it came out in 2009. I never did. This is my review. I enjoyed this film a lot. Of course, this film by South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp is an allegory for the segregation of human populations from one another and mistreatments in refugee camps. While the South Africa portrayed in this film is not a failed polity, its substandard treatment of the alien shrimps is brutal.
What makes this film so real and relatable is how the local black South African population finds a way of mistreating the aliens while they were the ones mistreated for years. The documentary feel of the movie makes it feel as if the prawns were really on Earth. What I like about this movie is that how the prawns were badly segregated and mixed with the local poor population seems more credible than other futuristic depictions of aliens coming to Earth. These shrimps are not Yoda-like in demeanour. There is nothing noble about them. In a perverse way, this justifies why they are treated like despicable aliens and others by the humans. It is only by sharing their fate that one human can finally relate to them and give their cause some dignity.
Many dislike Blomkamp’s films because he asks questions that challenges the orthodoxy of our ideologies and societies. Although part of the movie is an action film while another is an fake documentary, he manage to show enough different point of views to avoid the typical jingoistic feel mocked by films like Starship Trooper. Given much of the mess that was 2014 in terms of how humans treated one another across the world, District 9 is the kind of movie one should reflect upon to start questioning our societies.
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