"District 9" Director Now Takes Audiences to "Elysium"


From Neill Blomkamp, the acclaimed director of the Oscar Best Picture nominee “District 9,” comes the futuristic action-thriller “Elysium” starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.

In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined planet. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the crime and poverty that is now rampant throughout the land. The only man with the chance to bring equality to these worlds is Max (Damon), an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Foster) and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well.

In 2009, Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene with his first feature film, “District 9.” It was an enormous critical and commercial success: critics praised Blomkamp’s filmmaking style, and audiences around the world turned out to the box office to support the film’s originality and innovation. But the reason it resonated was that the movie had themes that grabbed the audience: the way the film seamlessly blended a genre alien-invasion movie with biting and relevant social commentary pleased both moviegoing audiences and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who nominated the movie for Oscars® for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

In his new film, “Elysium,” Blomkamp has drawn two distinct and separate worlds: an overpopulated, ruined Earth, and Elysium, a man-made space station for the extremely wealthy. While in 2013, six astronauts live and work on the international space station orbiting about 250 miles above the surface of the Earth, 150 years from now, in Blomkamp’s vision, those humble beginnings will expand to become a home with the best of everything for the rich. “The idea, in a way, is ludicrous,” says Blomkamp. “The idea of taking up stone, and mortar, and concrete, and swimming pools – and everything you’d need to build these mansions in a space station – is satire. It just reinforces the central idea of the film – the people of Elysium have unimaginable wealth, and they use those resources to build a separate, synthetic, almost hermetic environment for themselves. In that way, Elysium is the reverse of an alien-invasion story – it’s still about human beings trying to protect a way of life, but instead of fighting for Earth, they do it by going into space.”


“I want to blow things up as much as I want to make films that are about serious topics,” Blomkamp says. “I’m more of a visual artist than anything else. I don’t want to make movies that are too serious – I like action and visual imagery, and that’s where it starts for me. But I’m also interested in politics, so once I’ve set up the world and start getting into character and story, the political ideas that intrigue me work their way in there. The subjects that interest me tend to be large, sociological concepts, and I like the idea of making films about those concepts in ways that aren’t heavy-handed or preachy – I hope that putting these topics in this setting will let the audience look at them from a different perspective. The most important thing to me is that the movie is entertaining, but I like to put a worthwhile story underneath, so it isn’t just pure popcorn.”

Just as “District 9” explored ideas of social justice, class separation, and race relations, “Elysium” asks important questions about where we are now in a context of where we are going. “The entire film is an allegory,” Blomkamp says. “I tend to think a lot about the topic of wealth discrepancy and how that affects immigration, and I think the further we go down the path that we are on, the more the world will represent the one in “Elysium.” In that sense, I think the questions that underlie the film are quite accurate.”

In fact, Blomkamp says that the heart of the conflict is more real than one might realize. “When people see the wealth of Elysium back-to-back with the poverty of Earth, I think some will think that it’s more extreme than reality – and it is not. The two things exist, on Earth, right now,” he says. “In Mexico City, in Johannesburg, in Rio, you have pockets of great wealth, gated communities, amidst a sea of poverty. And I think that’s where the cities of the US are going to end up, too – that’s why the movie is set in Los Angeles. But that disparity can’t last. And I don’t know what we’re going to get – whether we’re going to pull ourselves forward or self-implode. Elysium is the fork in the road.”

Opening across the Philippines on September 4, “Elysium” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.
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