Every so often a film comes along which blows me away… as it stirs so much emotions and thoughts within me. Earlier this year it was “Gran Torino“. Now it’s “District 9“.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, but here is the basic storyline. The movie starts with the arrival of a spaceship over Johannesburg, South Africa, with over a million sick and malnourished aliens on the brink of death. They are removed from the spaceship and placed in a internment camp near the city called District 9, while the authorities decides what to do about them. The camp disintegrates into a crime ridden and very dangerous slum where the aliens and the native South Africans engage in violent conflicts… and Nigerian gangs openly operate a variety of black market schemes. A private company which specializes in weapons research and security contracting called Multi-National United, is given the task of forcibly relocating the aliens to a new area called Distict 10, which is miles away from Johannesburg… and therefore away from humans.

Interestingly, the title and storyline are based on a real events surrounding a racially mixed area that was in Cape Town, South Africa called District 6. The inhabitants were forcibly removed in the 1970’s by the government who had declared the area a crime ridden and dangerous slum… (subsequently they made it a “white-only” zone). Approximately 60,000 people were relocated to an area 25 kilometers away from that city. 

The events which unfolds within the film, deals with the such issues as the mistreatment and marginalization of refugees and immigrants, apartheid type government policies, immoral scientific experimentation, media propaganda, as well as the personal and societal cost of doing the right thing. There were also elements in the movie which I found somewhat troubling, as it perpetuates the negative stereotypes we constantly see of Africans in the media… especially by Hollywood: tribal like conflicts, drugs and weapons dealing, violent and bloodthirsty gangs, prostitution, witchcraft and cannibalism.

Although in my first impression of the film I didn’t find it to be racist, I however understand why some people would and I have read a number of articles which takes such a position (and I agree with most of them on a certain level). With all this being said… as well as upon further reflection… I still really liked the movie and highly recommend it. There is an obvious set up at the end of the movie for a sequal… and I am looking forward to it.

I would be interested in hearing what others who have seen the film thought about it.