Is it too early for me to declare Neill Blomkamp the best director of the 21st century? Maybe. There are lots of candidates with Guillermo Del Toro and Peter Jackson in the running and 87 years to go…maybe I am being a little presumptuous.
As a child coming of age in the eighties who was actively involved in anti-apartheid demonstrations and activities while in university the morality plays that Blomkamp has been creating with District 9 and now the forthcoming Elysium are what I believe our world needs today.
Blomkamp uses science fiction as a vehicle to deliver moral, satirical and ethical observations about our society in the way Jonathan Swift did in Gulliver’s Travels nearly 300 hundred years ago – that is to say he uses science fiction as it was originally intended to be used, for social commentary (just wait till Blomkamp gets his hands on a Philip K. Dick novel).
Blomkamp is a 34 year old South African who emigrated to Canada at 18 and who brings all of his culture’s turmoil and moral struggle to bear in his films. He holds nothing back as he warns against the stratification of society where the haves get more and the have nots get less while any middle class is eradicated in the process. I am guessing Blomkamp would not be a big fan of Ayn Rand.
Everything Blomkamp does with his movies I love…he is brash and unapologetic. He is fast-paced and exciting and creates films that are designed to entertain AND deliver a strong moral message. This is a rare feat.
I should also point out it was Blomkamp who essentially discovered Sharlto Copley, an amazing South African actor who starred in District 9 and features prominently in Elysium. Copley is a brilliant actor who I hope ends up in every Blomkamp film the way Bruce Campbell is in every Sam Rami film.
What am I saying? Watch Blomkamp’s movies. Watch District 9 and pay close attention to the messages about racism, xenophobia, classism etc. Watch Elysium when it comes out and pay attention to those details as well…stay tuned to what Blomkamp is doing because ultimately he is telling the story of the universal and equal value of all people.
P.S. He is currently working on his next film Chappie, based on his short film Tetra Vaal about a robotic police force that patrols the slums of South Africa. I can already tell the film will explore the increasing temptation of countries to implement robotic weapons as a way of dehumanizing and distancing decision makers from the horrors of war. As far-fetched as this sounds the current existance of drones speak to this frightening area of development.
For more info on this issue check out The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots at www.stopkillerrobots.org