Elysium

(MA) Matt Damon, Jodie Foster

If ever there was a film to tap into the conversation about asylum seekers and refugees its Neill Blomkamp’s film Elysium starring Matt Damon.

Set in 2154, the earth has become almost uninhabitable and people who can afford it have relocated off-world to the idyllic Elysium – the name itself means a place or state of perfect happiness and paradise.

Of course the earthbound humans who can’t afford it, try be any means necessary to get to Elysium at any cost – and for many it costs their lives. They pay people smugglers, and in the case of Max (Matt Damon) offer to be a techno mule and carry information which could change citizenship on Elysium for every human, not just the entitled.

Max has grown up in an orphanage and as an adult graduated to car-jacking, is on parole and working in a factory that produces the robotic police force that enforce the law in the strictest sense of the word.  As a child, having dreamed about life on Elysium he gets an unfortunate chance to visit after he is accidentally exposed to a lethal dose of radiation at the factory.

With five days to live he visits his local people smuggler and cuts a deal. In exchange for doing a job for him he gets free passage and access to Elysium’s life-saving medical facilities.

Of course if this went smoothly, there would be no drama. Audiences will have to brace themselves for the visceral violence as the film reaches its sacrificial and bloody conclusion.

In Australia recently promoting the film Damon was asked about the hot button issues of immigration, asylum seekers and people smuggling the film raises “Neill Blomkamp (the director) didn’t want to offer a prescription to the problem. I like it when a movie resonates with people and the zeitgeist and gets people talking about issues. This is a zeitgeist idea of the haves and the have nots.”

Admittedly, Blomkamp was no doubt making a film that would succeed at the box office – one of the few original films this year in a sea of sequels  – but if it continues the conversations about the issues it starts that can only be a good thing.

Adrian Drayton

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