Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Nominee #16 - District 9 (2009)
District 9 (2009) manages to do many things at the same time. It’s one heck of a smart sci fi movie. It gives us believable aliens in an atypical situation. But it also does something much loftier. It exposes our hypocrisy, our bigotry, our walled thinking and invites to walk in the other person’s shoes.
Director and writer Neill Blomkamp begins with a documentary style narrative of an alien spaceship that can’t get home. It hovers over the city and finally the humans break in to discover a starving crowd of aliens. The prawns as they are referred to are brought down and corralled off creating an alien ghetto. A private company is tasked with moving 1.8 million of the aliens to another camp. Led by Wikus van der Merwe played superbly by Sharlto Copley, the task force moves in forcibly getting the signatures from the prawns on consent forms for the move. In the middle of the inspections, Wikus while inspecting a shack finds a strange small cylinder and suddenly a black liquid squirts out onto him. He recovers and continues with the inspections but things start to change from that point on, with the movie showing Wikus grappling with the terror of his situation.
There are some superbly shot action sequences - the break in to Multi National United ( the company Wikus works for), the firefight preceding Wikus’ capture by the Nigerian gang and the final shoot out. The acting is excellent. The special effects are brilliant and the pace non-stop.
Wikus’ journey from THEM to US is what makes this more than just an alien movie; this is a deeply disturbing but human movie
That the movie has been set in Johannesburg is no accident. Memories of apartheid are shoved in your face, scene after scene. What it meant for the black population to be bullied, to be killed, to be treated as scum is brutally brought home through the perspective of the prawns. The officer Wikus, represents the racist white figure - not even the cruel, evil one but the smiling, nice-guy one who laughs, jokes, even treats the prawns friendly - but who is deep inside as racist and bigoted as the white policemen who display their brutality more obviously. Wikus’ journey from THEM to US is what makes this more than just an aliens movie, this is a deeply disturbing but human movie. It hits you in the guts and then invites you to rise above yourself. It shows how in the final analysis love will always beat hate.