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District 9: Finally! An alien sci-fi, not set in America!

September 6, 2009

I was not interested in seeing this film, and during the days leading up to it, my interest thinned further. I booked the tickets for District 9 (2009) (for a Saturday evening viewing), on Monday, knowing perfectly well that Thursday is the official ‘new movie’ day and that Thursdays options might rub my Buddha better. Then when Thursday arrived films, such as The Soloist (2009), were released and for once in my life, I thought my anal organisational skills were crushingly disappointing!
I thought this was a terrible experience before watching the film, and I try to avoid this form of pre-movie experience as much as I can, but at the end of the day, I’m very happy I decided to see District 9 (2009)and I feel the experience did not affect me at all.

The film begins like a documentary. It’s shot with movie-quality cameras, however the footage is shot hand-held; a style of capturing that is usually reserved for home videos and school projects. Usually I don’t like this style of camera work (commonly known from the film Cloverfield (2008)) and I usually feel that it is not necessary as it doesn’t compliment the film. But District 9 (2009) was different. Having been filmed in the slums of Johannesburg, South Africa, this cheap-style of camera work, gave a real, rough and dirty foundation to the film. With scenes that displayed little movement from characters, the camera was placed back onto the stand, but this would only be for a short time frame, before the shakes return.
Throughout the entire film, there are interviews with various characters. These interviews give the viewer the impression, that Wikus van der Merwe (main characters, played by Sharlto Copley) is dead. We are introduced to Wikus, a nerdy pastels-wearing pencil pusher, a passionately employee of Multi-National United, the firm who controls and managers Alien relations for District 9. Wikus is a polite lovable man, but after being promoted, we watch his character grow confidant and his disrespect for aliens (also referred to as ‘Prawns’) starts to illuminate through his humane outer-shell. However after being infected with an alien virus, he not only becomes physically like an alien, but becomes more trusting and affectionate for aliens, or more specifically, an alien called Christopher.


This film makes its audience question how humane humans actually are. Sure, humans allowed these aliens to live on earth, but in what state? And for what reasons? It felt as if the government were only interested in the aliens for their extra ordinary weapons.
Although the aliens seems barbaric, eating raw meat and goat heads, they were never illustrated as conflicting amongst their own kind. On the other hand, Wikus’s father-in-law, a Multi-National United manager, was happy to kill Wikus for research purposes.

This is the only film of my generation, where I felt that the narrative wanted me to feel and support the Aliens in contract to the humans. I think my favourite part of the film was the fact that it wasn’t set in America, I cant see the film being filmed anywhere else other than Johannesburg. It was the perfect familiar and yet alien setting, for me at the least. I never considered that producer by the green-screen loving man himself, Peter Jackson, would have touched this project; its very different from King Kong (2005), or the Frighteners (1996). But obviously Jackson saw the potential, and understood that the world needed a different style of Science-fiction, alien Vs. human movie.

Check out the the interview I have posted below. Peter Jackson talks of this films originality, and I couldn’t agree more! The fascinating aspect of this interview is Jackson’s casual attitude about choosing the lead role for District 9 (2009). Check it out!

Defiantly give this movie a chance!

Till next time

S

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 7, 2009 10:19 AM

    Thanks for the insightful yet spoiler-free review! I’m definitely Jonesing to see this one; the idea of South African sci-fi is an interesting one and makes perfect sense to me. Unlike English sci-fi (don’t even get me started on Sunsine…). Looking forward to seeing it and depositing more thoughts!

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