wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
District 9 is a stark tale of how a view from an alternative perspective can change one’s outlook drastically. It is also a film on the cold, brutal nature of profiteering private corporations.Read more
Hollywood has loved to make alien invasion movies. 2009 has been different. From the top of my hat I can recall at least a bunch of movies that have turned the tables on this concept. There is of course Avatar, then a funny animated flick called Planet 51 and then there’s District 9.
Interestingly all three belong to different genres and seem targeted at altogether different audiences. Planet 51 is meant for kids, for instance. Yet these three films have a common theme -- that who is alien and what is acceptable are very subjective and that alternative perspectives can change one’s standpoints drastically. Avatar is about humans creating havoc in an alien landscape. Planet 51 is about an astronaut landing on an unknown planet and realising that he is the alien there and not vice versa.
District 9 however is slightly different from these two. Here an alien spaceship descends upon earth and mysteriously malfunctions over the city of Johannesburg. It continues to stay there without any communications till the humans break into the ship and discover a city of malnutritioned alien beings. On humanitarian grounds, the earthlings give them refuge till they realise that they might’ve made the biggest mistake of their lives.
Directed by debutante Neill Blomkamp, District 9 adopts a documentary style of filmmaking in its first half. In the second half however the camera doesn’t move as violently even as the action does get pretty gruesome. The film itself owes its roots to Blomkamp’s sci-fi short film in which a similar alien spaceship lands over Johannesburg.
Needless to say because of the film’s South African setting you can find a lot of references to the apartheid years. The theme of forced eviction is one such instance. The name of the movie itself refers to District 6 from where some 60,000 people were evicted in the 60s.
District 9 is a stark tale of the xenophobic nature of human perspectives and the never-ending greed of private corporations that will go to any extent to make profits. The film also seems to give out a message that is loud and clear, a message that quite a few films of last year seem to be giving out -- that just because we are humans does not mean we are always in the right.
Wikus’ struggles are as heart-wrenching as they are eye-openers. The tight screenplay and the path-breaking direction only add to the pathos of his story. Of course, towards the end District 9 resorts to some clichés. Either way it makes for some great viewing and a must-have on DVD.
This article is by guest author Sanjeev Kumar Singh. Sanjeev Kumar Singh watches films by day and sings songs in the night. During his spare time he tells everyone willing to listen how he could not have asked for a better name.
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