The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff


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I finally got a chance to see Moon on Sunday. I don’t know why I say “Finally” since it wasn’t released until June 12. But I got advanced word about the film a few months back on Very Short List, and was significantly intrigued. VSL makes pretty sound recommendations all around, and the trailer for the film was excellent, so I’ve been waiting. The problem is that Moon isn’t in wide release. I had trouble finding it anywhere until I found it in somewhat of a specialty theatre in Evanston.

First, it takes a lot for me to see a film in the theatre. Second, it takes even more for me to see a sci-fi or horror film at all, much less in the theatre. Don’t get me wrong– I love both genres. But all too frequently both genres rely too much on computer-generated effects or gore to carry the plot. It gets tiresome, and the films end up being incredibly shallow and mostly a waste of time. Both genres work best when they are very tightly written and have something to say about the human condition, something far, far beyond “Hey- check out the cool way we filmed this!” Some excellent examples in recent years include the Danny Boyle films 28 Days Later and Sunshine, both of which scored big with me.

Moon has commentary in spades. The beautiful thing is that it holds off on it until about half way through the film. Writer / Director Duncan Jones takes his time getting things set up, even throwing in some plot twists that had me thinking deeply as I was watching. But in the end, it doesn’t matter if the film is sci-fi or not because the setting and characters are merely vehicles through which he is making his commentary. The best literature works the same way.

I was happy, as well, that Moon made allusions to several classic and highly respected sci-fi films. The most apparent references are to Outland (which itself strongly echoes High Noon), Alien (Jones himself recognized this, saying that he was heavily influenced by the first half of the film, before it kicked in to full horror-film mode), and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But there are other subtle allusions that are very meaningful in the film. The most important one is the ongoing subtext about mortality and what it means to be human, which echoed much of what Blade Runner had to say (based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). I even saw some influence from a rather obscure sci-fi film from the early 70’s, Silent Running.

Finally, I found some cinematographic choices to be interesting and integral to the themes Jones explores in the film. There are several overhead shots of the moon base that is the setting of the film. They are grainy, black and white, and filtered through some type of grid through which range and coordinates can be determined. My impression was that they were supposed to be taken from a communications satellite in orbit around the moon. They are cold, vacant shots, mirroring the conditions of life on the moon. I couldn’t help but think that Jones was reminding the viewer that God is watching all of this.

Readers: you can see that I’ve lately discovered how to make hyperlinks. I kinda feel like Charly in Flowers for Algernon when he discovers punctuation. I also make heavy use of Wikipedia with the hyperlinks in this entry. Wikipedia has solid entries about many, many films. I use it a lot and thought it might be useful to you.

Written by seeker70

June 23, 2009 at 2:35 pm

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