Archive for August, 2009

District 9 Analysis

I just returned from watching Peter Jackson’s film “District 9” and (apartheid aside)  here’s a perspective:

I see everything through a kaleidoscope with colored jewels forming crosses in various shapes and colors, and so it is with District 9. If find it both refreshing and alarming that filmmakers and script writers tend to go with their intuition, even spiritual prescience, more than do most spiritual leaders of the world.  Let me explain:

I believe that intuition is a faculty of the human spirit, just like conscience and communion. Because of our fallen humanity, or imperfection, people intuitively, as individuals and even on a national level, have an innate desire for a savior-hero. Thus the range of heroes from national epics down to folk-heroes.  District 9 is awash in this intuitive impulse within humankind, as are many modern superhero films. Spiritual leaders, conversely, often get stuck in the sentimental platitudes and prosaic formulas of religion.

There are several symbols or motifs which I saw in this film which had messianic undertones. First of all is the search for and discovery of the indispensible fluid needed for joining the command module to the mother ship. The recovery of the fluid took over twenty years. The vial containing the fluid was to be protected at all costs.

The second strong messianic symbol was in the name of the one who gathered the fluid, along with the help of his son. Christopher Johnson  is the alien hero the film. He leaves earth with a promise to return with help from his home planet in order to rescue his fellow aliens, derisively called prawns, and to restore the hero of the story to full humanity.

Wikus (pronounced Vih-cus), the protagonist of the story, is infected by fluid from the vial and his arm becomes alien. The arm becomes a rare commodity. The government wants to use it to fire the alien weaponry, and a Nigerian mafia boss wants to eat it in a witchcraft ritual for the same purpose.  In a sense, Wikus suffers [vicar]iously because his arm is exposed to humanity.

Near the end of the film, a full long shot of the camera is on the side of a building painted with graffiti. The huge letters fill the background and spells the word “NAME” two times.

Finally, Wikus’ recovery as a human and his restoration to his wife has to be sacrificed for the race of aliens. Christopher has to use the fluid to power his ship’s return to his home planet for help rather than using it to save Wikus.

In summary: The fluid is what can save the aliens, like the blood of Christ saves humanity; Wikus’ [a vicar is a priest] arm is symbolic in that the arm  and the  hand (not the left, but the right  hand in particular) are universal symbols of military deliverance and divine salvation, and especially in that the arm is exposed, or laid bare.

The alien Christopher Johnson (Christopher means “Christ bearing”) prepares 28  years for the fluid which will save his people, much like the preparation time of Christ. He survives a beating where blood runs down his face. Finally he escapes and leaves the earth with a promise to return to save his people, as well as the restoration of the protaganist, an shadowy allusion to resurrection, in three years, compared to three days of Christ’s resurrection.

You may think this is all a stretch, but remember this fact: an overwhelming majority of people think there will be some kind of apocalyptic [hero-revealing] event in the near future, something not even the churches are talking about much now, at least not until they see this extraordinarily crafted film.

This film is rated R because it deals briefly with prostitution and drops f-bombs in strangly-accented clusters.

That’s how I see it!

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