Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 8:41 pm | Fair 51º

 
 
 
 

Cinema in Focus: ‘Elysium’

3 Stars — Thought-Provoking

The political parable Neill Blomkamp created to express the injustice of apartheid in South Africa was ingenious in District 9. Exhibiting those same skills, Blomkamp has created a similar film depicting the immigration policies of the United States in Elysium.

Using science fiction as his vehicle, Blomkamp writes and directs a story about an otherworldly upper class that literally lives in the heavens far above the poverty on earth in a celestial space station called Elysium. Having health care that can heal all human diseases, the wealthy are indifferent to the sufferings of others and keep the “illegals” out of their idyllic existence and away from their medical technology until an evil plan for ultimate domination is hijacked to bring equality to all.

The central character of our parable is Max (Matt Damon). Max is an orphan who was raised in a Christian orphanage by a loving nun who taught him of his worth. Inseparable with him in that humble beginning is Frey (Alice Braga). They become committed friends and Max promises to take her to Elysium one day. Their lives part when Max leaves the orphanage for a life of crime and Frey becomes a nurse. But as the tale is told, we quickly realize that their hearts are intertwined in ways that will bring freedom to them and their world.

Although robotic police primarily administer the violence in the film, we quickly see the face behind the indifferent oppression by the wealthy, Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster). Her cold ambition is matched by her cruelty as she unleashes the monstrous agent Kruger (Sharlto Copley) against any threats to Elysium’s privilege. Joining her in her evil plot due to his greed is billionaire industrialist John Carlyle (William Fichtner) whose desire for profit is reinforced by the demands of his Board of Directors.

Fighting for freedom and surviving through crime is an underworld barrio of Los Angeles led by the limping Spider (Wagner Moura). A genius whose armed guards are as adept at operating sophisticated computers, performing adaptive surgeries and navigating space travel as they are at using guns, Spider sells spaces to transport the sick and impaired up to Elysium for medical care. When Max is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation at Carlyle’s factory, he and Spider join forces to get him to Elysium to save his life. It is this collaboration that changes everything.

The power of a parable is that it takes us to another time and place to reveal the underlying political and ethical truths about the real world. It is easy to look at the privileged class of “citizens” in Elysium and ask why: Why are they not sharing their wealth and medical technology with others? The sacrificial death of Max as a Christ figure to open the way to universal health care by making the entire world citizens of Elysium speaks to our hearts. But, like all parables, the head gets in the way and rationalizes why it would never work. It is this dialogue of heart and head that Blomkamp opens up with this thought-provoking film.

Discussion

» If the United States were to make all the people of the world citizens of the U.S.A. and gave full rights and privileges to all, what do you think would happen?

» Do you think the insulation of wealth behind gated communities or bordered nations creates an excuse to deny the suffering of others? Why do you answer as you do?

» Even on Elysium, the president is appalled at the cruelty used by Secretary Delacourt to protect their borders. Yet he doesn’t do anything to stop the injustice. What rationalization do you make for your inaction on behalf of people suffering from poverty and lack of medical care in the real world?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >