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Humane Treatment for Refugees?

Yesterday, I wondered over to the Picturehouse in Greenwich to see District 9.

Trailer for those that haven't seen it:


(Direct link)


On the surface it's a sci-fi film about first contact with aliens, but it uses this as a tool to make a political message about how we treat refugees and the arms trade. A message which comes across loud and clear. The film is mainly about politics rather than science.

As a brief plot summary without giving anything away, a crippled Alien ship appears in the sky above Johannisberg and the Aliens are taken in as refugees. When they don't fit into society they are placed in a camp "District 9" separate from the rest of the population of the city.

Not sure if "like" is the word for this film really. It's certainly very well done, but very uncomforting.

There's quite a bit of humour to lift the story, which does help it from being too depressive, but it's really quite dark humour in places.

I'm no biologist, but I suspect the whole getting infected with Alien rocket fuel and slowly turning into one, was probably scientifically dodgy. However, it didn't really matter as it was more a tool to carry the plot rather than the central point of the plot itself.

I was impressed with the way they made out the aliens to be monsters at the beginning of the film, so you saw quite how much they didn't fit into society. The cat food was a nice touch, far enough away from what we would eat without requiring them to hunt or kill and it added a bit of humour. It worked perfectly to make you distrust the aliens from the start, even though they in fact only had honourable intent. When you got further into the film and you saw Wikus starting to get to know Christopher, you began to saw this. A point highlighted by the fact that most of the violence in the film was carried out by humans and the use of the alien weaponary was mainly by Wikus rather than the aliens themselves (the only time I can think of an Alien actually using the weaponry against the humans was when Christopher's son rescued Wikus by remote control).

The obvious assumption portrayed early on that the canister was some form of biological weapon, but turned out to be fuel worked excellently to emphasise this.

The derogatory racist name "Prawn" was a nice touch too to emphasise how unaccepted they were.

Towards the end the film seemed overly violent though. OK, given the nature of the subject there was a clear need to portray a degree of violence, but I'm not a huge fan of making people's heads explode. Maybe that's just me though.

The last few scenes were a bit cliche with the "you go ahead while I fight these people off" thing and the aliens coming to Wikus rescue at the end. However, certainly the latter was a nice touch to show that although the people no longer accepted him, the Aliens did.

All in all it was a good film. Well worth seeing, but prepare to feel uncomfortable.

What with this and Moon, this year has been a good year for sci-fi films with a bit more to them than just Aliens shooting each other with lazers.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
almostwitty
20th Sep, 2009 12:35 (UTC)
I'm rather disappointed that all the reviews of the film seem to boil down to "Wow. Look. We treat the aliens like shit in this film, like the South African government did to black people, or the Australian government did to Aborigines in the 1970s".

Does no-one *watch* the news any more ?!
hmmm_tea
20th Sep, 2009 14:31 (UTC)
But it's so much easier to pretend it's all about the past rather than admitting it's still happening today...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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