Culture Shocking Blocking

District 9

Image for District 9

The sci-fi thriller District 9 (d. Neill Blomkamp) takes as one of its central themes the ironic/tragic insight that nothing short of our own dehumanization will ever suffice to convince most of us to think and act in a humane fashion.

Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a clueless Afrikaner bureaucrat at Multinational United, a sinister Blackwater-like corporation, doesn’t empathize with the alien “prawns” — the forcible relocation of whom, from one refugee/internment camp to another, he’s tasked with — until [SPOILER] a DNA-altering mishap begins to transform him physically into an alien being.

In another director’s hands, Wikus’ existential trajectory (familiar to readers of, say, Levinas, Kafka, or PKD) might have been introduced ham-fistedly. However, even before he grows a prawn-flipper and eats catfood, our protagonist’s alienated perspective is foreshadowed, in the scene shown here, via blocking.

At a surprise party, Wikus finds himself surrounded by friends and family, covered with celebratory streamers; instead of rejoicing, he seems a creature hunted by a species higher up the food chain. He’s a prawn trapped in a net!

Tags: Movies, Science Fiction