Sunday, January 10, 2010


I often find it hard to appreciate science fiction. It seems useless to waste a couple of hours on watching some man's boyhood fantasy finally being allowed indulgence. There is an abundance of automation and hi-tech gadgets. There are usually some aliens, trying to destroy the earth or America in the least (same difference huh?). There is high action, and equally high drama. Often, the hero comes – with a lot of Doctor D stuff and wham! Just in the last micro-second, the sun shines and everything is perfect.

But, like all genres, if the better of this one is picked out – there are many which classify as some of the finest movies ever made. Often, the speculative science is only a minor aspect of such movies. These movies put little focus on fantasy, and a lot more on personal, emotional, even philosophical aspects of certain situations. Take for instance Fahrenheit 451 which imagines a world where books are burnt – the story exclusively worries itself over the absence of books and the wooded individual which arises out of it. Or clockwork orange, which concerns itself with the perils of using brainwash as a possible remedy for fighting crime.

Another remarkable movie of the genre is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I regard as one of the most brilliant films I have seen. Everything in that movie is beautiful – the depiction of the slowness of life in space, its monotony, the perils of relying on a computer, however intelligent. The peril of artificial intelligence itself – the idea of Frankenstein replayed.

Moon by Duncan Jones, is a movie of similar beauty. It is unquestionably inspired from 2001 – even the description of the movie will give that away. Sam lives in a station on Moon, and helps send a material to earth which is required to solve earth's power problem. His only companion is a computer GERTY – a slightly diminutive version of HAL, who keeps him company – even encourages him to talk out his problems. Sam is at the end of his 3-year stint on Moon, ready and desperate to go back to earth and his family, when he meets with an accident – one which changes everything.

I cannot talk a lot about the movie without giving the plot away, which I am reluctant to do, even though it is not at all a mysterious movie.

At the beginning of the movie, you can observe the effects of isolation on Sam. There is his desperate eagerness to see his wife's video messages, his hallucinations about making love to her, the omnipresence of moon's monotones. You look at all that and wonder what kind of a man signed up this contract, this extremely washed up life, with just a computer for company. As the movie unfolds, the expendability of this man becomes more pronounced, and cruel. It seems then the same classical retort on capitalism – a corporate giant laughing away to the bank while the worker slogs and leads a miserable life. There is, must be, a hidden socialist in all of us.

There are some good dialogues in the movie, though talk is kept to a minimum. Sam Rockwell is very convincing in all his moods, and Spacey's voice as GERTY conveys the right distance and eeriness – you can't shake off the mistrust.

Surely a sci-fi that I loved.