©2019 by Sean Whitehurst

District 9 (2009) <><><><>



I saw this film in theaters in 2009 and did not appreciate it for what it was at the time. I revisited it ahead of a trip to South Africa. Wikus Van De Merwe finds himself in charge of the relocation of an alien slum. The human population of Johannesburg has become unhappy with the proximity of the slum, District 9, to the city. The movie takes place in post-apartheid South Africa and both the black and white populations are united in their desire to expel the 'Prawn.' Prawn is a derogatory term for the aliens.

The movie is intended to draw parallels to the apartheid system that South Africa imposed in the past. Watching the movie today you can easily draw parallels to anywhere in the world where outsiders are being demonized or treated as 'others'. Perhaps it is my maturity, but this movie felt more impactful today than when I first viewed it.

District 9 is difficult to get through because of today's world political landscape. There are a lot of gruesome scenes that wouldn't look out of place in a Quentin Tarantino film. The subject matter should also hit you hard. What would happen if your privileged position was flipped and you became the 'other?' Would you regret your choices? Be prepared to grapple with that idea.

This movie deserves a first watch or a revisit if you saw it a decade ago. The CGI of the aliens looks better than a lot of CGI today. The movie holds up well from a technical perspective in addition to an evergreen subject. Be prepared for a depressing experience and queue up something to lighten the mood to watch after.

 

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