M-O-O-N spells Movie I Wanna See

I am not a fan of the “hard sci-fi” film genre. I can take science fiction when it is about as weighty as
Firefly or Cowboy Bebop, which is to say, not very. I maintain that Star Trek: The Next Generation is the only Trek worth watching.

So, you see, I have issues with sci-fi. It all tends to put me to sleep. I have never made it through 2001; A Space Odyssey (that’s the one with the monolith, and the really, really long shot of the monolith, that goes on, and on . . . and on, right? Yeah, that’s the movie that made me realize Stanley Kubrick had contempt for his audiences). I cannot watch any of the Blade Runner versions because it is just so dark, it leaves me feeling like I must peer into shadows to watch it.

Marvin the Martian is much more my speed, and I seem to channel him when I try to watch hard sci-fi. If I’m not falling asleep, I am annoying my husband by saying, “this is a bomb, so where’s the ka-boom? There is supposed to be an earth-shattering ka-boom!”

But, here is a film that seems to promise or threaten (or need) no giant ka-boom: Joseph Susanka is waxing so enthusiastically about Duncan Jones’ Moon that I may need to put this on my netflix thingy:

Clearly influenced by its more famous predecessors, Moon is no exception to that trend: a psychologically complex film that leans heavily on the ideas, themes, and artistry of such greats as Kubrick and Tarkovsky, it delves into the question of how we humans come to understand ourselves, and those with whom we interact, whether human, robotic, or “other.”

That’s a question I am always interested in; so far, so good:

The perceptiveness and emotional core of Jones’ film is built on his examination of the question and problem of cloning, though his use of that particular sci-fi trope takes a very different tack than one might expect. While studiously avoiding the question of its morality altogether, his focus on the clones’ parallel existences offers his audiences an easy way to compare disparate versions of Sam Bell simultaneously.

This, in turn, allows Jones to focus on the importance of self-understanding. The older Sam Bell’s interactions with his clone—interactions with himself, through the wonders of science fiction—are both enlightening and instructive. Recognizing the anger and pent-up frustration personified in his younger self as his own frustration and anger, he also recognizes it as the very flaw which led to the destruction of Original Sam’s marriage so many years before: “I see it now; I see what Tess was talking about,” he says sorrowfully, recounting the way in which his hair-trigger temper and unchecked sullenness pushed away the loving wife they both remember so clearly.

Okay. This sounds pretty good. Sci-fi fans especially will want to read on!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • SCSoxFan

    “Moon” has been out for over almost two years (2009). I guess you really don’t follow movies too closely ;). My brother saw it when it first came out and really liked it. It never came to SC and I had forgotten about it until your post.

  • http://www.vernacularcatholic.blogspot.com/ VernacularCatholic

    Yes, it is a great movie, but SCSoxFan is right.
    It’s been out a long time now!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Um. . . sounds a bit too chick-flicky for my tastes.

    And, as for clones—scientifically, biologically speaking, your clone is actually your identical twin, not you, yourself, all over again.

    And twins, even identical ones, have their own personalities; their own souls, you might say. They won’t necessarily provide a guide for how you can become a better, more self-actualized human being, etc. It won’t be interacting with yourself, anymore than interacting with your twin brother/sister would be.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And, of course, the real questions here are not about self-understanding; they are, what sort of horrible society clones human beings for certain jobs, sending them off into exile and replacing them, when they get warn out, as if they were merely pieces of machinery?

    I mean, seriously, what a horrible idea!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Now, if the young clone decides he’s not interesting in becoming another Sam, or serving the corporation, and starts plotting his escape from the station—that might be interesting!

  • Anonymous

    I would like to recommend an oldie here that you might enjoy. Try THX 1138, a George Lucas directed film from his neophyte days. It is not long on science, which is where it appears you are coming from.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Yes, THX was quite good. I’m hoping Lucas doesn’t go back and try to re-make it.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    What the. . . ?

    We’re talking about science fiction movies, stealingsugar; how does the Prince of Darkness come into this?

    (Unless you think science fiction is Satanism, in which case, I fear you’re terribly confused, no?)

  • Rand Careaga

    Although you might find it even more soporific than 2001, Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” is magical, humane, deeply felt. Steven Soderbergh’s more briskly-paced 2002 remake, an honorable effort, is more accessible, if less profound. Both are worth a look.

  • starlady

    I think it is to the credit of the SF community that in 2009 “Moon” beat out both ‘Star Trek” and “Avatar” for the Hugo Award-Best Long Dramatic Presentation.

  • Anonymous

    This film reminded me a little of Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS, which is probably the best sci-fi film ever made by the best sci-fi author Lem. Tarkovsky has also recently been emulated by Lars von Trier, in the psychological film, Antichrist.

  • http://twitter.com/obis_sister Obi’s Sister

    The real reason we all watch ST:TNG is a certain bald Shakespearean thespian. Even the re-runs will stop me in my tracks if he is in the frame.

    Make it so.