District 9 – A dystopian future, or an uncomfortable past?

by | Jan 12, 2023 | Movies & TV | 0 comments

It never became a franchise, because it was never looking to become one. District 9 feels like a forgotten relic of an era that wasn’t even all that long ago. It wasn’t about superheroes. It wasn’t an adaptation of a famous book. It wasn’t a remake of an old classic.

District 9 is a film about aliens in refugee/internment camps, investigative journalists, bureaucrats, and the militarized police in charge of the camps. But really, it’s a story about apartheid.

We get a fascinating look into life inside the camps in a found-footage extravaganza of viewpoints. There are suspicions and subplots, conspiracies both real and imagined, casual racism, systemic cruelty, and a smattering of nifty near-future technology.

All wrapped up in the story of one man’s genuine desire to help​ the aliens he’s charged with relocating, and the consequences that ensue when he triggers an unknown device while intervening on their behalf.​

Of course, the film is set in South Africa for a reason. And it substitutes oppressed aliens for oppressed humans because that’s the difference between your movie earring $210M dollars and 4 Academy Award nominations, spreading your message worldwide, and being lauded at an indie film festival and maybe an “in select theaters” release in the US.

District 9 is funny at times, but mostly it’s chaotic, raw, and a little bit uncomfortable, especially if you’re aware of the historical parallels. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching.

After all, at its heart, District 9 is a story about one overlooked man trying to help, and still get home to his wife at the end of the work day.​ And the movie blends both levels of the story—the larger social mirror and one man’s struggle to go home—brilliantly.

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