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District 9 Movie Term Paper

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Movie: District 9

District 9 is a film that takes us into a realm of a different world from the one we know now. It surrounds the idea of extraterrestrial life combined with immense science-fiction to illustrate a story we could only imagine to ever actually occur. Although made for entertainment purposes, this motion picture can be compared to literature studied in class including Thomas Hobbes Leviathan. Although not forwardly represented, District 9 displays many underlying concepts through its scenes. When studying and analyzing the plot and characters, these concepts then become more translucent to the viewer.
District 9 is a flashback film that opens with a series of interviews introducing the basis of the film; an extraterrestrial ship hovering above Johannesburg, South Africa. As explained in the interviews, 20 years prior, the alien ship was making no contact with the humans on Earth so humans decide to cut into the vessel, only to discover severely malnourished aliens. It was decided that the aliens, now referred to as ‘prawns,’ were to live on Earth in government restricted camps, formally known as District 9. As the opening of the movie continues, it is explained how the prawns may never be able to go home due to an inoperable ship and have to live in unity with humans. Unfortunately, there was peaceful living among the two species and as humans began to riot, District 9 had no choice but to move the prawn’s location under the guidance of MNU, Multi-National United. The operation was overseen by an MNU field operative named Wikus vander Merwe. As the eviction notices began to take place, some of prawns did not react well the mission became chaotic. As Wikus filmed his journey through District 9, he talked about things he saw in the prawn’s homes, including many weapons, hanging cows for nourishment, and in one particular house, a canister that contained a black liquid.
As the film progress, Wikus is exposed to the black liquid and immediately begins to feel unwell. Following his exposure, the film also exposes the true reason behind the move of District 9, weapons. The prawns had intense weaponry that enticed the government and military officials, however they soon discover that can only be operated via prawn’s DNA. Through a series of events, it is learned that the black fluid Wikus was exposed to is a valuable liquid to the prawn’s to get back home, as well as liquid that leads to the metamorphosis of Wikus into a prawn. Officials become eager to study Wikus because he has both prawn and human DNA, allowing him to operate the arms the aliens have however Wikus wants to be free and return to his human life. The film continues to show Wikus’ journey from evicting the prawns to helping the prawns in order to fulfill his own aspirations.
When first beginning this film, it is clear to see that the aliens are not representing aliens but instead allegorically symbolizing a lower or a poor class of citizens. Ironically taking place in Africa, a 3rd world country, the aliens are ‘rescued’ from the ship only to be housed and used for the weaponry. They are symbolizing a lower class because the humans, or a rich class, are taking full control and leadership over the prawns. Throughout the entire film, there was no clear sense of a leader for the prawns, thus allowing them to be easily manipulated and controlled by the humans. An additional allegorical symbol in this film was the fluid. The search and discovery of the indispensible fluid represents power and freedom because it is the only way the prawns can join the command module to the mother ship. Taking 20 years to recover this priceless liquid makes it clearly represent power and freedom as well as the fact that it needed to be protected at all costs.
Lastly, the 3rd allegorical symbol in this film is the role of Christopher and Wikus. Christopher was the one who gathered the liquid, becoming the hero of the film. He uses the fluid to leave the planet Earth with the promise to return with help from his home plant to rescue his fellow prawns. Moreover, Wikus who becomes infected with the fluid becomes a sacrifice for the race of the aliens since the fluid has to be used to save the prawns and not for Wikus’ restoration to a Homo sapien. These examples demonstrate Christopher and Wikus representing change to the chaos that is surrounding them. Christopher is taking a leadership role to change the way his people are being treated and fighting to get them back to their motherland. Wikus, who is physically changing as well, is representing a change in society, fighting for those who are necessarily his people but standing up for what he believes in, the safety of these innocent prawns.
From the point of view of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, there was never a central ruling over the aliens for them to protect themselves from the treatment they received. The human’s interest was only in the prawn’s weaponry therefore there was no central form of governing to protect the humans or the aliens. This allowed for chaos to take over and this is clearly represented when the human military is overrun by the prawns in the government official headquarters. Additionally, the lack of governing is was what allowed the fluid to be unprotected and lead to mass destruction in District 9. From the Leviathan point of view, the lack of a stern controlling government is what allowed the riots from the humans to occur in the beginning. If there was leadership and control, the riots would not have occurred, District 9 would not have been moved, Wikus would not have been infected and the prawns would have returned to their mother ship, leaving Earth quietly and quickly restoring Earth to its native inhabitants, humans. Unfortunately the lack of control prevented this, making the aliens motives of returning home clear and thus giving the humans the opportunity to stop the prawns so they could continue their studies on the aliens and use their DNA to power the weaponry.
Furthermore, from the Leviathan point of view, Hobbes would discuss the desire of the weapons from the humans. In his text, he says the every aspect of human nature is violence and the natural state is ‘war of every man against every man.’ In other words, Hobbes is stating that no matter what state a human is in, at the very core, people constantly seek to hurt and destroy one another. Is evidently clear in District 9 as the humans interests are only in the alien’s weapons. They could use these powerful arms to destroy enemies at war. District 9 is a key example to Hobbes’ Leviathan because it portrays almost every aspect that Hobbes describes as ‘human nature.’
The movie shows us a situation of violence and chaos where one group is controlling the others for their own interests. This sort of situation can be seen in Pierre Boulle’s Plant of the Apes where the humans were being controlled by the apes. Humans were looked down upon by the Apes and considered to be uneducated and animalistic. Humans had to work hard and were the apes personal slaves. This sort of mistreatment and discrimination can also be seen in District 9 with the aliens. The aliens in District 9 were also being abused by the humans and were only used for the interest of humans. Both situations are similar in the fact that one group is controlling the other group and treating them very poorly and classifying them as a lower kind.
In both pieces of work the discrimination against one group can be clearly seen but the unified fight against this discrimination cannot. There were no clear leaders in both the Aliens and humans who were being discriminated against. Both groups accepted the reality of things and lived through the discrimination. Only few in both groups fought back against the discrimination and free themselves from the slavery. Another similarity in both these stories is that the group who is in power did not want the other side to find out certain secrets. Like the situation in the Planet of the Apes where they set out to find the secrets in the cave about the evolution of Apes. Also the situation in District 9 where the canister that can help the Alien ship to reactive is being kept in a lab. Both situations show the salvation for the Aliens and the answers for the humans are kept from them and unless they themselves make an effort to create change nothing will get accomplished. Both stories carry a lot of similarities in the way one group is controlling the other with fear and discrimination.
In District 9 there are many allegorical symbols that can be seen and it is a clear story on the discrimination against the lower class. The movie also shows themes of violence and the lack of central control in district 9. This lack of control demonstrated the inability of the aliens to govern themselves and thus being controlled by the humans. Also these themes can be similar to what we have studied in the Leviathan and shows us the need for central government. Also the comparison to Planet of the Apes can be made in this situation where both movies showed us discrimination against the lower class. District 9 is a classic movie about discrimination and the mistreatment of one group by another group. The powerful are selfish and only interested in themselves and this sort of greed can be clearly seen this movie and in human nature.…...

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