In the Dark

Aliens and Knaves

District 9
Produced by Key Creatives and WingNut Films
Directed and written by Neill Blomkamp
Distributed by Sony Pictures


Forty-five years ago, radio humorist Jean Shepherd wondered why filmmakers invariably portrayed alien invaders as intellectually light years ahead of human beings.  Wasn’t it possible, he mused, that extraterrestrials might be a tad slow on the uptake, perhaps even slovenly of habit?

At 30, director Neill Blomkamp seems far too young to be familiar with Shepherd, but his first feature film, the alien-invasion opus District 9, nevertheless honors Shepherd’s notion.  Blomkamp’s aliens are an entirely hapless lot.  They unaccountably park their saucer-shaped ship over Johannesburg, South Africa, a choice that makes no sense at all.  Everyone knows alien invasions begin over New York or Washington, D.C., or, when the Alpha Centaurians take a wrong turn, London.  It stands to reason that, if you were from somewhere north of the Eagle Nebula, you would have to be a complete dunce to hover over Johannesburg unless, of course, the director telling your story grew up in this city and wanted to put across a glancing allegory about what he had witnessed there as a child before his parents fled to Canada to escape the turmoil and crime that engulfed South Africa during the years before and after the African National Congress...

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