Happy Horrorthon! My midterms are done; so, I have this brief window to be analytical that doesn’t involve Petroleum, Carbon, A piston, or some sort of torque. This film is the kind of horror film that I like that dares to be political. Duncan explores the hidden cost and ineffectiveness of best intentions. You have an intractable problem, but is the solution actually helping and are the people advocating it trustworthy? Moon presents the problem: Global Warming. The solution that is marketed and sold to the world is fusion by strip mining the Moon and sending the fuel back to earth. There are scenes where we see scars on the moon from the strip mining. Are we creating a new problem? Is the solution a net wash? Is the solution financing an evil regime? Why is environmentalism immune to cynicism? The exploitation of an unlimited labor? Have corporations done anything ever to warrant even our limited trust? These are the questions that Duncan forces us to confront with horror.
I know that this sounds ham-fisted, but the political statements are brilliantly subtle. This is not a right-wing political film either; on the contrary, it’s about presenting the moral imperative of considering unintended consequences as we push to solve real problems.
My eyes rolled so hard at the opening though when a corporate ad from Lunar, the mining company, pushed their “Green Energy” solution that I almost turned it off because the last thing I needed post-midterms was someone scolding me for 97 minutes. However, the opening was visually stunning; so, I hung with the film. Also, it starred Sam Rockwell and he’s awesome. This was the directorial debut of Duncan Jones who is immediately identified as David Bowie’s son, but you don’t need to confirm that with Wiki because he looks just like his Dad.
We are in a future where fossil fuels are thing of the past and fusion via strip mining the moon is providing the world with a New Eden; at least, that’s what the totally trustworthy corporation is telling us in it’s slick ad.
(Now, if you want to really end ALL fossil fuels, the solution is to perfect Tesla Coils and wirelessly transmit electricity this would obviate the need for batteries and would power the world constantly. Horrorthon is not just for great commentary; it’s for learning! )
The film is a one-man/two man show….huh…just wait. Sam Bell is a moon worker on a three year contact, maintaining the moon harvesters as they strip mine this essential rock that keeps our axis stable. In this future, the job of astronaut is less Neil Armstrong and more horrible non-union factory job. Sam is dirty, breaking down, beginning to hallucinate, and bored to tears. The live-link to planet earth has not functioned since his arrival and he’s surrounded by nearly completed hobbies like whittling towns from his memories. We are forced to see the horror of a human being in profound loneliness and hopelessness for our needs.
The next plot point has Sam checkinng on a malfunctioning harvester; however, he has a vision of his daughter and he crashes. We see him pass out as he’s being buried alive. Sam wakes to his only companion- a robot with Kevin Spacey’s voice. Important note is that this film was from 2009. Sam’s suspicious that there might be something outside of the ship and the robot appears to be able to talk live with the evil corporate leaders from earth. Sam is determined to investigate outside the ship. After a brief sabotage, Sam is able to investigate the moon harvester. He discovers a busted up copy of himself.
He’s confronted with Lunar’s answer to the high cost of unions, labor complaints, and pay: you don’t negotiate with employees, you grow them. If things go really wrong like two clones meet, you send in goons to kill them, and wake up new disposable people. What’s is so painful is that the corporation gave the clone’s a 3 year lifespan; so, we watch Sam Bell Prime disintegrate slowly in scene after scene, including one where he spits out a molar… yeeeeech. While we see the human toll, we also see the moon missing huge chunks of itself as result of the mining. So, we are committing this horrible evil, but is this clean energy just creating a new and unintended problem? We are so desperate to not think things through that we greenlight an idea to destroy our own moon and credulously accept corporate talking points.
This film was thoughtful and painful. Duncan Jones forces us to think take some time and… THINK. What are we doing? Maybe doing something just to do something isn’t the answer? We are confronted what we don’t want to consider: how did this sausage end up in this package? I’m not seeing any pollution; therefore, it’s not happening. Our society is less owl and more ostrich every day.