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District 9 comes to Blu-ray

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 10:28

Producer Peter Jackson of “King Kong”, “The Lord of the Rings” fame was instrumental in getting “District 9” a high profile. You can see what impressed him as it’s out now on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Director Neill Blomkamp (“Crossing the Line”, “Tempbot”) enlists a cast of relative newcomers and a host of mind-boggling special effects. This is the allegorical story of aliens stranded in South Africa, and is a take on Alien Nation, but taken to an extreme.

The alien mother ship appeared, hovering over South Africa. The passengers are eventually released from their captivity aboard it, only to be openly imprisoned in a slum on the fringes of Johannesburg. The underlying message is that these ‘prawns’ (a none-too respectful slang word they are given due to their appearance) were surplus to requirements on their home planet.

District 9 on Blu-ray and DVDThey find themselves openly in competition with the lowest of the low from humankind, sharing the slum space and getting involved in gang warfare, prostitution and trafficking of every kind.

One lone human discovers the mysterious secret of the extraterrestrial weapon technology – it’s linked to the DNA of the ‘prawns’, so that only they can fire the guns. Having been infected by an alien substance, our offbeat hero then becomes the hunted, on the run through the back alleys of the alien shantytown. This is his turn to discover what it means to be an outsider on your own planet.

Its documentary styling makes “District 9” all the more believable, and its commentary on racism resonates ever-stronger because of this. South Africa makes an appropriate backdrop to explore issues of apartheid. The faces may change, as might the colour (and texture) of the skin, but inequality is cruel regardless of whether you look like a crustacean or not! This film doesn’t propose any answers, but it does show that a few elements of your DNA can change you from an insider to an outsider in almost the blink of an eye.

In fact, it’s easy to begin siding with the ‘prawns’ against the humans who are committing every imaginable atrocity against the alien refugees. The strongest allegory is getting a handle on the evil being done in our name by those who bark out the orders. Once we as a people allow ANY section of our society to be marginalised, that will only be the beginning – what will follow is action against the next element of society whose differences are intolerable for whatever spurious reason can be picked upon. 

These are the perils of being different from the ‘norm’, as defined by the elite at the top of the pyramid. As Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) said about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Bonus materials on the Blu-ray™ and DVD include commentary with Director/Co-Writer Neill Blomkamp, deleted scenes and the three-part documentary “The Alien Agenda: A Filmmaker's Log.” The first part of this explores the pre-production process and creation of the world of District 9, Peter Jackson’s role in producing the film, and the unorthodox approach to using South Africa as the setting for this film.

The second part delves into the shooting style of the film utilizing small handheld cameras to tell the tale, the difficulties of shooting in Johannesburg, the challenges of shooting scenes that would include visual effects later in the process, and the overall challenges encountered during the production process.

The third chapter of the documentary investigates the task of designing and editing the film's sound effects, and the general challenges encountered during the editing process.

The Blu-ray version also features four featurettes:

  • “Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Wikus” looks at the practical effects employed by filmmaker Blomkamp and the artists at WETA to create Wikus’ metamorphosis into an alien;
  • “Innovation: The Acting and Improvisation of District 9” shows Blomkamp’s direction of the actors, his encouragement of improvisation, and the actors’ process for working together under these guidelines;
  • “Conception and Design: Creating the World of District 9” depicts the design and theory behind the world of District 9, including Alien Design, Alien Technology, Space Travel, MNU and The First Reaction Force Battalion; and
  • “Alien Generation: The Visual Effects of District 9” offers an in-depth look at the process of shooting visual effects scenes and incorporating CGI aliens realistically into the scenes in post-production. 

Other bonus features on the Blu-ray Disc™ include an interactive map feature “Joburg from Above: Satellite and Schematics of the World of District 9”, that allows users to explore alien technology and weaponry, MNU mercenary armoury, and more from the film through a series of satellite maps, schematics and photo-real files.

The Blu-ray Disc also features movieIQ - which allows viewers to immediately access continuously updated information on the cast and crew, and explore trivia such as production facts, music and soundtrack information all tied to scenes within the movie via BD-Live™ - and cinechat, where viewers can send on-screen instant messages to their friends while watching the movie. 

“District 9” has a running time of approximately 112 minutes, is rated ‘15’, and is available on Blu-ray for £24.99 and DVD for £19.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com   

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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