I Have A Theory...

Hint: It's not a Demon!

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District 9
I've been putting off reviewing this for a few days, god knows why, but here goes.

OK, District 9, simplish premise: aliens arrived nearly 30 years ago and were moved into a slum in Joburg. The SA government plans to relocate them to District 10 and things go horribly wrong...

The racism parallels are very blatant, especially at the beginning, and the 'abortion' scene is particularly anvilicious. I have no idea why the Nigerians have subtitles unless it is to draw further parallels with the aliens but it's a bit...weird. They're not really needed. Because of the 'in-your-face' racism line the main character is really hard to identify with, to the point where I wasn't cheerng for him but rather on the verge of screaming 'If you don't fix that I'm gonna climb in there and END YOU, you PRICK!' So we're talking redemption rather than heroics, which is a nice change from many action films. The switch between doco and omni-cam is a bit...weird at times as well. And the alien weaponry 'popping' people is incongruously amusing at dramatic moments.

Bad stuff, that is all. It's a fantastic film that has a relatively fresh take on the alien invasion narrative and combines SciFi's 'what-if'ness with social commentary on a scale not really seen since RoboCop. The acting isn't oscar worthy in the same way that the acting in Serenity wasn't, it's not an insult and the actors inhabit their characters well. The story moves along pretty fast for the supposed 3 days it takes but that's forgivable hand-wavy meh.

Christoper Johnson, oh Christopher. The ultimate woobie. He is just utter love. I dare you not to feel sorry for him with the thing in the room with people shooting. It'll make sense when you see it, I swear.

The short version: flaws it has but they are negligible. This is a brilliant movie and pretty much a must see for anyone with spare moment.

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I came across your blog after watching the movie last night, and am eager this morning to discuss theories.

First of all, I think the Nigerians and other humans were subtitled to facilitate comprehension by English-speakers in all locations. Part of the groundbreaking nature of this film is that it exposes Africa to a global audience in a way that has never been done before. As such, it will reach many viewers who have not been exposed to accents in that part of the world.

As an American, I can tell you most of my fellow citizens would definitely find the Nigerian speech patterns hard to follow. At the beginning, it took me a few minutes just to tune myself in to the main protagonist's accent.

One theory I read: the ship may have been carrying prisoners/undesirables who rioted on board, killing the crew and leaving the ship disabled at Earth. Perhaps "Christopher" was a guard who escaped inside the control ship.

A friend of mine had an idea, which is not discussed in the movie, but could still be consistent with everything that was shown. What if the aliens originally belonged to some third race, and were themselves victims of an infection that turned their people into Prawns? It may be that Prawns spread through space by absorbing one species after another in this fashion.

As a New Zealander, it's a lot easier for me to understand the accent, I think. Some of the people subtitled, like the man talking about his wife and the gangsters' boss, were understandable (to me) to the point of actually pulling me out of the movie while others I could fully understand.

There are so many possibilities in the why they are there, I would have trouble going with the 'escaped prisoner' idea purely because there were so very many alien weapons around.

Aliens-as-virus facinates me, I have to admit. I like the idea that maybe the majority of the aliens were a third race who managed, in their new forms, to infilterate, capture and start the ship with no idea of how to run it. Christopher seems to have an extremely highly developed sense of responsibility towards the others which, with his ability to run the ship, makes it unlikely that he could be both an original alien and a sympathizer especially as his entire plan revolves around going home for help.
We could take it a step further here and have the original flavour aliens at some sort of evolutionary dead end and so they infect and convert others in the hopes that these other races will bring whatever evolutionary advantages they have to their new race a la Alien Chestbursting.

Just the amount of material avaliable to work with is facinating, there's so much to think about.

One thing I find interesting is that, when purchasing tickets, you can always tell a South African - not always by their accents, SA, Australia and NZ have major similarities - by the way they always ask for a ticket to District 6.

I was thinking the amount of weaponry was rather consistent with the prison ship theory. There would be some weapons, but not enough to, say, mount a resistance against the humans.

As for the infection theory, perhaps "prawning" is a common pitfall of interstellar space travel, as the parasites are widely spread. The aliens may have a treatment for it, but it requires returning to their homeworld (1-1/2 years to get there, and 1-1/2 years back).

I should add... one detail I like about foreign films as an advantage over mainstream American cinema: they are much more open to interpretation. Americans have a tendency to overexplain everything, underline every point four times. Sometimes, I'd prefer to let my imagination loose, and take some time to chew on what I have just seen.

The amount of weaponry, sure, what they do...not so much. The ones that explode people I can understand, but the ones that are essentially giant rocket launchers would be very dangerous to use inside a space ship, not to mention the exoskeleton.

My little pet theory is that they were invaders, colonists, that were in suspended animation. For some reason (possibly that it was experimental), it didn't take and most of the aliens woke up partway through the voyage. Most of the aliens we see are their descendants and CJ is one of the originals, forcibly awoken when the ship itself ran out of power probably due to the strain of keeping so many creatures alive. That ould explain the weapons, the differences between CJ and the rest and the ship stopping.

I don't think it's an American problem, I think it's a (as you said) mainstream American problem, being that those movies that are explicitly made for profit tend to go for what is popular and what is popular is something that doesn't require any work on behalf of the viewer - Twilight is a perfect example of this. I'm also tempted to blame Steven Spielberg a bit, for all that he's one of my favourite directors, because his style of film-making is so streamlined, everything is in there for a reason which means that nothing is ambiguious, and he is so very good at it. Or was. American cinema is more than capable of coming up with complex, ambiguious stories - you can't tell me the ending of Fight Club isn't ambiguious or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, eXistenZ, while Canadian (all hail Chronenberg!), is really something else.

Speaking of foreign films, have you seen Fearless? It is incredibly beautiful. Night Watch (Timur Bekmambetov) is a lot of fun as well and if you're going for ambiguity, check out Russian Arc. It makes me a bit sad that more people don't watch foreign films, I'd love them to be more widely avaliable.

Adding onto a previous theory...

I was reading up on this movie, and decided to check out some theories around it, as I was devising my own. I'd found out that some people had a similar view about it, too. One, which is posted here. You have a few great ideas, and some to think about.

The theory that I made out of this movie, however, is the one surrounding the liquid. In the beginning, as Wikus has accidently "infected" himself with it, he begins to transform into a "prawn" (I'm not sure if they ever announced a species name or a less derogatory name for the aliens...), but you notice that when Wikus seeks help from CJ, CJ isn't quite surprised by the effects taken upon Wikus. Therefore, it's assumed that CJ has seen it before. Maybe CJ (being a bit more intelligent and less savage than the rest) is either an original, or a more knowledgeable of the prawn species, which could have been another, more humanoid species in the past. They did say in the beginning that when they found the millions of aliens on the space vessel that they were all sick, malnutritioned, and dying, perhaps from the disease/infection of the liquid. If you notice near the end, it shows Wikus acting just like one of the usual prawns, seeming to feed off of and scavenge trash. Perhaps with the transformation, the organism becomes less intelligent and more instinctive, only obeying the basics of life (survival, reproduction) and putting society and social settings second.

My two cents.

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