ELYSIUM (2013)

From Clockworks2
Jump to navigationJump to search

ELYSIUM (2013). Neill Blomkamp, dir., script. Simon Kinberg, producer. Philip Ivey, prod. design. USA: "TriStar Pictures Presents," Simon Kinberg Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Media Rights Capital (prod.) / TriStar and Sony Pictures Entertainment/Releasing (dist.), 2013.

Earth ca. 2154 is polluted, overpopulated, and desperately poor: one vast favela, with the superrich having fled to an implausibly low-orbit space station, Elysium, built and apparently run by the Armadyne Corporation[1] (most of the film's politics are not subtle). See for the promise and threat of high-tech, starting with the opulence of Elysium as a very large construct and working down to spacecraft that are also hovercraft and a variety of airplanes, to military robots, robotic bureaucratic manikins (with pun on "robotic"), near-magical healing couches (for the rich), combat exoskeletons that are in themselves ethically neutral — cf. and contrast such devices in ALIENS (film) and AVATAR) — and down to smaller devices that are cybernetically and physically invasive of the human body. The visual and possibly aural design on Elysium is toward clean-line Modernist (and just generally clean), while what we see of Earth is almost entirely po-mo-Industrial funky: both impoverished economically and visually rich.

As in THX 1138, the hero works making robots that appear to be police/military robots — and is threatened even more than THX by an industrial accident. Comparing and contrasting the cybernetic cops in THX-1138 and ELYSIUM can give a good introduction to the differences between Modernist design and the dystopic vision ca. 1971 and literally post-Modern(ist) visions. CAUTION: Consult your local Marxist and expert opinion on population issues before accepting the relatively happy ending of the film as anything more than a tiny first step toward a better world. Those near-magical healing of technologies of Elysium are brought to Earth and promise health and long life to a human population that may already be way over the carrying capacity for the planet; what they will eat and where they'll get fresh water and what jobs will be available if Armadyne is no longer producing crowd-control (or slaughter) devices — these are issues not addressed.

Discussed by Lars Schmeink in "Cyberpunk's Commodification of Bodies," q.v. Also discussed as "a technological fable" by Yael Mauer in "Neill Blomkamp's Elysium and SF Allegories of Contemporary Society," the Feature Article in SFRA Review #330 (Fall 2019): pp. 12-16.[2]

5. DRAMA, RDE, 09/VIII/13, 7Aug20; (18Oct21)