MOON: Back to the Source

I’ve always avoided discussions about genre deaths, but I recently begun to wonder about the position of the science-fiction genre in current cinema, and even gotten to the point of drawing comparisons to the now unpopular western genre. Not for the same reasons – quite the opposite – but because the aesthetics of it has been so saturated with space operas and technophilia entertainment, as this summer is evidence, yet to find the traditional ideological impulses of the genre one has to dig deep through the mud every year to find one or two entries. The genre might look like it is everywhere, but it isn’t. Then, the debut of Duncan Jones with his sci-fi film, MOON, is found; a movie of ideological inclinations and mediative pictures that works against the populist, superficial trends from today’s technophilia films and returns to the source.

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The year 2008 featured two films about revolutionaries in protest, with Steven Soderbergh’s CHE and Steve McQueen’s HUNGER, based on Che Guevara and Bobby Sands respectively. Both films were ambitious in their own right, taking historical figures and using their lives, not for conventional biopic storytelling and to question their places in history, but as pretexts about the experiences and ideals of their respective times. The films weren’t so much about why, but about the how; interpretations about the images and politics left to the viewer based on emotionalism as much as the idealism; as if to live them is to further understand them. Uli Edel’s DER BAADER MEINHOF KOMPLEX, a 2008 German film that retells the early years of the West German terrorist group Red Army Faction (RAF) at the time of the German student movement to the German Autumn (Deutscher Herbst) in 1977, doesn’t attempt to do what Soderbergh and McQueen did. Edel’s choices are sometimes superior, but other times painfully inferior.

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