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Futuristic Movie 'Elysium' Underscores Today's Ills

  • Penelope Poulou

South African filmmaker Neil Blomkamp returns with a new sci-fi film, Elysium. Like his previous futuristic drama District 9, Elysium tackles social separation in a dystopian future.

It's the year 2154, and the world is starkly divided between the haves and the have nots. The downtrodden inhabit an overpopulated polluted earth, while the rich have migrated to Elysium, an outpost in space where there is no poverty or sickness.

The story is centered on Max, who is played by Matt Damon. Having broken the law many times, he's trying to sort out his life - on earth. He gets a job at a factory where he's exposed to radiation. "In five days time you will die," a robot tells him. That's unless he can make it to Elysium, the place of his dreams.

Neil Blomkamp directed the film. “All of the things that make life worth living, everything that's been extracted from earth, all of the medical help and the technology and the wealth and standard of living and the longevity and everything else is all there,” he said, in reference to Elysium.

But Elysium is inaccessible to foreigners - that is, everyone living on Earth, including Max.

Jodie Foster portrays the unyielding Madame Delacourt, a government official on Elysium, who will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws to protect her environment. She orders that vessels filled with women and children be shot down to prevent them from entering Elysium.

“...Her point is that the earth that she came from, that she remembers - and don't forget she's 108 years old - was falling apart and was horrible and it was a terrible place to be. And they created this new habitat Elysium to get rid of some of the bad things that happened then, the pollution, toxicity of the planet, overpopulation, all of things that we know right now are a problem,” said Foster about the character she plays.

Blomkamp’s movie is an allegory about many of today’s problems: poverty and immigration, homeland security, lack of universal health care, and the destruction of our planet.

After he agrees to go on a dangerous mission to Elysium and hack into its security system, Max turns into a human transformer, with equipment that makes him incredibly strong and turns his brain into a hard drive filled with security data. From that point on, Elysium is action packed and delivers social justice, Hollywood-style.