If there ever will be an Oscar for the best science-fiction idea to be turned into a political film ‘District 9′ is a certain candidate. It takes the theme of the third degree encounter, but reverses the relation between the human and the alien races into a very unexpected manner. The aliens arrive indeed in their gigantic ships, but their place of levitation is neither a coned mountain not the lawn of the White House, but the slums of Johannesburg. Neither do the Aliens look like ethereal blue-men, nor like naughty gremlins, but they are rather a frightened and disoriented crowd which looks in shape as disgusting prawns, who do not seem to enjoy often showers either. Placing them in the slums that South Africa is very familiar with looks like the right thing to do, and nobody is surprised when racial riots break up between the ‘superior’ humans and the new ‘inferior’ race visitors. True, the ‘prawns’ as they are called do have the military technology you would guess, but it’s only some kind of teenager nerd of theirs that holds the secret of saving the oppressed race.

source www.imdb.com

Released in the same year as Avatar, District 9 carries a similar message of intergalactic tolerance pleading for the need for dialog between cultures, for mutual respect despite differences in language and behavior. It probably cost only a few percents of the hundreds of millions Cameron could invest in his blockbuster. However, after putting aside the outstanding visuals of Avatar, District 9 is a much better film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjihaK7HfGs

(video source hollywoodstreams)

Talking about visuals, I liked the atmosphere that first time director Neill BlomkampĀ  created for the slums. The pseudo-documentary style fits well the story logic, and the use of TV news allows for action to be re-created with an air of authenticity, enhanced by the propagandist media speak coming from the comments. Actor Sharlto Copley is perfect in the role of the inept bureaucrat Van De Merwe put in charge with moving the aliens to a new relocation camp, and plays well the coming back towards humanity of his spirit in parallel with the metamorphosis to alien his body is going through. Overall this film is a good surprise in the genre coming from an unexpected cinematographic territory.