Directed by Duncan Jones. US. 2009.

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The most important issue we may face in the future is whether rapid advances in science and technology will change human beings into disposable resources, utilitarian subjects manipulated by indifferent centers of corporate power. Moon, the thought provoking and thoroughly engrossing first feature from U.K. director Duncan Jones, son of the pop singer David Bowie, tackles these questions and raises others that have been pondered since man first set foot on this planet – Who are we? Where did we come from? What is our purpose on this planet? Though the answers do not come as easily as the questions, Moon attempts to recapture the science fiction genre from the mindless action-adventure films we have become accustomed to and brings it to a level, perhaps not seen since the classic Kubrick film 2001.

Filmed on soundstages in England and set in an unspecified future time, Moon opens with a mock commercial by the Japanese corporation Lunar Industries. The Corporation has developed a technique to use the rocks on the moon to produce Helium-3, a substance that can fulfill mankind’s most pressing energy needs. Their mining facility on the far side of the moon is manned only by Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) and a Hal-like robot named Gerty (voice of Kevin Spacey) who communications emotions through a smiley face display while reflecting company programming. Lonely and emotionally at loose ends, Sam is nearing the end of a three-year stint and is looking forward to return home in two weeks to see his wife (Dominique McElligott) and young daughter with whom he is only able to communicate via video recording since direct communication is temporarily out of service.

When hallucinations of his lovely wife standing before him cause Sam to crash his Lunar Rover, the film takes a strange turn and never looks back. Sam wakes up in the infirmary and begins his recovery process under strict orders from Gerty not to go outside of the base. Astoundingly, Sam sees a younger version of himself who claims to have arrived to serve the same three-year contract that Sam began many years ago. Raising issues about the nature of identity and the perversion of human life by scientific and corporate power run amok, the film becomes a desperate struggle against the clock to reclaim one’s humanity before a so-called rescue operation arrives to set things in order.

Moon is not preachy nor does it treat the corporation as the villain incarnate. Without special effects or bombastic battle scenes, this low-budget film simply presents the possibility of what could happen if human consciousness does not keep pace with advances in genetic engineering. As such, it is brilliantly executed, fascinating and involving, and contains an outstanding double role performance by Indie star Sam Rockwell who is completely convincing as the confused and lonely astronaut who plays ping pong with himself. Director Duncan Jones and screenwriter Nathan Parker have combined the intelligence of Solaris with the chilling power of Alien to produce a work that challenges us to reconnect with our souls.


Howard Schumann
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