Tuesday Timeshift #15: District 9

district9_3Can’t be bothered reading an entire review? Check out my Haiku Film Review. Otherwise keep reading!

If you’ve somehow managed to miss all the advertising, the internet chatter, the general hype-i-ness that is District 9 let me take you back.

A couple of years ago, South African ad director Neill Blomkamp made a little short film called Alive in Joburg.  It traversed the globe quickly, thanks to that handy little distribution channel you and I know as YouTube, because it was clearly high quality (and had a decent budget) but mostly because it’s an intriguing idea.

How would we treat refugee aliens marooned on our planet?  According to Neill, not all that nicely.

Peter Jackson – yes, that Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) – thought that might make for an interesting feature film.  Ch-ching!  It sure does.

Uber-real, tense, graphic, sad, interesting… how many more adjectives can I use?  Just be glad I haven’t started in on the superlatives yet.  It’s a film that defies it’s sci-fi label because the fact that they are aliens is somewhat irrelevant.  It could be any disenfranchised refugee group.  Setting the movie in Johannesburg, while natural due to the films origins, is poignant because it is a city which today still struggles with significant race issues.

It’s got the requisite extremely effective CGI and the appropriately chest thumping explosions, don’t get me wrong.  But just don’t write District 9 off as a sci-fi movie or a boy movie or whatever cliche’s you want to to apply.  It will surprise and entertain but it also has a very serious point.  Not just on the grand scale of mass refugees but it can be boiled down to more local, more immediate circumstances.  When you treat those weak than you like animals or criminals they may well rise to meet your expectations.  This is a lesson that we’ve seen time and again in our refugee detention centres that we don’t seem to really learn.

Or you can ignore all that and just see an entertaining film.  Either way, go see it!

Opens everywhere this Thursday.

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