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Matt Damon’s Elysium Takes ‘Occupy’ to Space

A late summer sci-fi action film from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp launches class warfare to cinematic heights.

by
Walter Hudson

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July 5, 2013 - 7:00 am
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We say you should not judge a book by its cover. However, when you have nothing else to go on, the cover will do. In film, our first impression takes shape from promotional materials, the most descriptive of which tend to be trailers.

From what we have seen so far from Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to his 2009 breakout hit District 9, he appears bent on further developing that film’s none too subtle social agenda. The official synopsis of Elysium:

In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined planet. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the crime and poverty that is now rampant throughout the land. The only man with the chance to bring equality to these worlds is Max (Matt Damon), an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well.

In the trailer, we see Foster’s Delacourt order the destruction of several “undocumented” shuttles carrying illegal immigrants from Earth to Elysium. Clearly, we are meant to connect the imagery to real-life immigration scenarios. Like Cuban refuges braving a 90 mile trip in small boats for a taste of the American dream, the space-bound huddled masses of Elysium risk life and limb to escape untenable circumstances.

Added to the immigration meme, we detect the tone of Occupy Wall Street. Damon’s Max seeks to save the people of Earth and “bring equality to these worlds” through the use of force, justified by his “desperate need.” Though not overtly mentioned in the trailer, capitalism appears in the cross-hairs. An apparent industrial accident caused while in the employ of a corporate Elysium contractor, leaves Max with five days to live. The means to survive exists on the space station, medical pods which can apparently cure any illness or repair any injury. However, the only way to access one is to take on the Man.

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All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
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I don't understand. Is there some reason the teeming masses can't build their own space stations? Billions of people, and nowhere on the planet exist the knowledge to replicate what the space station dwellers did.As for the medical machines, either they were built on Earth, and knowledge of how to build them still exists there, or they were invented, designed and built on the station which means he has no right to them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who needs to build a space station? THEY HAVE AN ENTIRE DAMN PLANET.

This "Hershey's Kiss" vision of society - a small cadre of rulers on the tippy top, with a vast, squat base of serfs below - is a recurrent theme in Leftist dystopias. The joke's on them; they *always* present the rulers as "corporate", and yet as an outgrowth of capitalism, these things always stand revealed as utterly implausible once the first questions are asked.

But when understood as being a projection not of capitalism, but of the primitive feudal society that preceded it, this pattern comes into much more comprehensible focus.

The Left seeks to discredit and sabotage the Enlightenment which gave birth to capitalism and political liberty. So what do you think is going to be left once that mission's accomplished? A top-down authoritarian society with a few nobles and masses of serfs, of course - a pattern that, interestingly, repeats constantly in all Leftist societies, from straight-up Communism to the 1960's hippies and the Occupy movement.

That's when they, of course, cop the usual bullship about "betrayed revolutions" etc, their reflexive insistence that it was the implementation that was botched rather than there being something wrong *in principle* with their ideas.... but then they keep creating things like this.

Elysium isn't a cautionary tale; it's a confession.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Elysium could use some competition.

But just try telling your city government that, much less the Feds.

Blue Cross could not by itself force you to buy their insurance. Only the coercive power of the State could do that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This could be an excellent movie if, at the final confrontation, the head of Elysium pointed out that they were on a space station and that allowing anyone to arrive would overload the life-support systems and kill everyone, and that if the took the collected wealth of the station and spread it out among the billions on Earth it would make no difference to the average human. But that she was willing to give our "hero" a liscence to build and operate the med pods on Earth for a 30% share of the revenue.

Of course, the fact that noted idiots Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are headlining make the odds of this being anywhere close to decent are approximately nil.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hello Mr Hudson
Very much enjoy reading your well-written observations...
this is off topic, but in a recent interview regarding his
portrayal as Liberace's main squeeze, Damon remarked
"I didn't seek that role aggressively. I just sort of backed into it."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That space station would have to be awfully big and the people on it awfully wealthy to life an entire planet load of poor folks out of poverty.

So far, I find the premise laughable, and all the people of Earth would really accomplish would be to tear down the folks on Elysium to dredge in the dust alongside them. Equal misery for all!

But that's the way of Communism.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, communism, the ideology founded by a German madman (Karl Marx), who himself had been inspired to create it on a basis derived from a bloody revolution (French Revolution/Reign of Terror) derived from the teachings of several French madmen with a chip on their shoulders against Christianity (Voltaire, Sade, and Rousseau), one of whom (Rousseau) was also Swiss. Both instances, BTW, also advocated the extermination of religion under the pretext that it hampered humanity to some degree (with Marx, he claimed it was an opiate of the masses and made it clear in his manifesto that he wanted it exterminated, and in Rousseau's case, he said that humanity was "everywhere in chains" in a non-too-subtle reference to the Roman Catholic Church and Christianity as a whole at the time). Heck, Marx even participated in one of the French Revolution's descendants, the Paris Commune. The only real way to even discredit it now is to burn every single copy of their works and thus ensure no future generations could ever relearn it ever again, seeing how despite tons of proof that should have been unquestionable, it's continuing to propagate, and WORSE, is actually spreading. I've maintained that philosophy is little more than the teachings of people suffering from insanity, so I see absolutely no reason why we should continue to allow them to be taught.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've maintained that philosophy is little more than the teachings of people suffering from insanity, so I see absolutely no reason why we should continue to allow them to be taught.

All we need to do is ask: who are "we", and by what right do "we" dictate what is to be taught? ... and the real insanity is revealed.

Elsewhere in these comments, I asked "what comes after" the Left succeeds in subverting the Enlightenment? I didn't expect that answer to show up and announce itself so clearly here.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately, attempting to destroy Marx's work would simply be taken as proof that he was correct. Better to seek a way to make the link between Marxism in theory and Marxism in practice more obvious to those dolts who somehow forget that it has been proven that it does not work.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, that's the problem: the best way to do that is to remove all obstacles between the theory and practice of Marxism. Reality is the harshest teacher. Then the Marxists would end up on the equivalent of Earth and the individualists on "Elysium". And this movie makes it clear how they would deal with that result.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It would be refreshing to see that idea [prosperity through freedom] affirmed in a setting like that portrayed in Elysium."

Actually, there's a fair chance of that. Check out Alastair Reynolds's novel "The Prefect." I believe it's been optioned by Hollywood.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Elysium sounds like socialism at its end stages, rather than anything to do with capitalism.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not quite. Elysium is socialism at its next-to-last stage, as evidenced by the fact that some wealth still exists.

The *last* stage is after the station is invaded, looted and destroyed, and then everybody starves after the last of the loot is gone.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ah, true! Only the members of the Party get to live on Elysium, as they are being rewarded for their greater efforts in the struggle for equality. They have achieved their purpose in making most of the world equal, so in exchange for the best of their abilities, the higher level of the needs are being met.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I saw the trailer for the film while watching "Man of Steel", and I got the hint that it was most likely going to be a space version of Occupy Wall Street's creed. When I gave the emperor's sign of approval (you know, thumbs up or thumbs down, named after how the Roman emperor would often give that sign to hint whether the Gladiator should be spared or finished off during gladiator games), I left it sideways, with it slightly leaning towards the bottom. Now, I'm definitely giving it a thumbs down.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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