Director Neill Blomkamp only has two films to his credit, but already he’s at the forefront of the left’s message machine.
His breakout hit District 9 offered a sour commentary on corporations and those who don’t support amnesty. His latest film, Elysium, is an Occupy Wall Street rant writ large–along with more commentary on immigration. The futuristic tale features an underclass stuck on a dilapidated Earth while the rich live in a gorgeous space station dubbed Elysium.
So isn’t it odd to hear Blomkamp dream about owning the kind of kingly structure no disheveled Occupy protester could ever afford.
Within six years, Blomkamp hopes to buy a skyscraper, maybe 40 or 50 floors, in downtown Johannesburg–a place to stay when he’s in town. He insists it’s not such a crazy dream; since the crime rate skyrocketed downtown in the late ’90s, so many high-rises went vacant that they can now be had for a relative pittance. He envisions the building as his own version of Blade Runner ‘s Tyrell Corporation headquarters.
It sounds a lot like his own little version of Elysium, I point out. “Exactly,” he says. “That’s exactly what I want.
The Elysium ironies don’t end there. Blomkamp aligned with Hollywood’s corporate studio system to make the film, a project requiring mega-stars (Jodie Foster, Matt Damon) whose salaries dwarf that of most people on the planet.
Blomkamp’s films teem with deeper meanings, but the director insists we not call him a political filmmaker. He may be new to the Hollywood power structure, but he’s already learned the dubious tactic of pretending political films aren’t … political. The Wired interviewer happily plays along, as if a film featuring the elements Elysium offers is both fair and balanced.
The director finds it unfortunate that observers are already drawing parallels between Elysium and the Occupy movement, a phenomenon that he says wasn’t even a consideration. Blomkamp identifies as neither liberal nor conservative, which doesn’t stop people from ascribing all sorts of agendas to him and his films. The focus group comments for an Elysium test screening bear this out: “Some people said, ‘This guy’s a racist!’ and other people, ‘He’s a liberal!’ It’s like, well, which is it?”
It’s a good sign, in his view, that the film provokes such disparate reactions. But he doesn’t care for the idea that by making two Big Theme movies he’s bound to be branded a political filmmaker. “That would be the worst calamity of my career,” Blomkamp says.