Blog Directory CineVerse: Bringing sanity to lunar lunacy

Bringing sanity to lunar lunacy

Thursday, June 18, 2015

With its retro seventies esthetics, claustrophobic interiors, and the unfettered performance of Sam Rockwell, "Moon," directed by David Bowie's son Duncan Jones, takes us on a unique space oddity that even Ziggy Stardust would appreciate. Boiled deep in the subgenre of hard science-fiction, this film forces us to confront tough questions about what it means to be human and if the future is worth looking forward to. Here's our group's take on "Moon":

DOES MOON MAKE YOU THINK OF ANY OTHER FILMS?
“2001: A Space Odyssey” in its art direction, set design, and depiction of artificial intelligence and space loneliness and isolation.
“Silent Running,” “Solaris” and “Alien” in its somber, inauspicious tone and cautionary tale-like lesson.
“Blade Runner” and “AI: Artificial Intelligence” in its exploration about the nature and veracity of artificial or cloned existence.
“Dead Ringers,” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and the remake of “The Fly,” all of which purport assimilation and repopulation-type horror
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Truman Show”

WHAT ARE SOME KEY THEMES AND IDEAS PONDERED IN “MOON”?
Solitude, seclusion, alienation, emptiness, and loneliness, and the effects these have upon the human psyche.
Man’s fear of the unknown, embodied here in the enigmatic mystery and awe of the desolate, monochromatic moon itself  
The nature of reality, identity, individuality and existence: even if the memories within a clone are planted and not authentically experienced, aren’t they “real”, and don’t they define that person as a person?
The reliability of our experiences and memories. How accurate is our past? If you are a clone or artificial being, are you still not capable of emotions and original thought? Is Descartes and his conception of “I think, therefore I am” wrong or invalid here?
The ethics of bioengineering and human-replicating technology. Is it wrong to clone? What rights do clones have? Is programmed obsolescence wrong? What is our moral responsibility when creating clones or artificial intelligences?
The desensitization and expendability of human beings for the advance of profits and big business
Biblical allusions and metaphors: Cain (the younger clone) slays (beats up) his brother Abel (older clone); the lunar equipment is named after Gospel writers Matthew, John and Luke; “Eve” is Sam’s daughter
According to writer Steven D. Greydanus: 
o deconstruction of human nature
o the commodification of human life to existential loneliness
o alienation and the dehumanizing effects of corporate ruthlessness

HOW IS FILM DIFFERENT FROM MANY OTHER SCIENCE-FICTION MOVIES, AND WHY IS THIS DISTINCTION IMPORTANT?
Unlike so many other sci-fi pictures, this one can more accurately puts the “science” in science-fiction, as opposed to being a space opera fantasy in which scientifically accurate details, principles of physics and the known universe, and realism take a back seat.
It doesn’t involve clich├ęd chases, heroic rescues, spaceship battles, Michael Bay-sized explosions or colorful and exotic aliens. Instead, it’s a simple, slowly paced story that asks deep philosophical questions, forsaking popcorn entertainment-style action, thrills and romance for a more intellectual experience.
It features primarily only one character and actor, forcing you to patiently examine his thoughts and behaviors and see things through his eyes; the benefit of this is a simpler story in which character development is given priority as opposed to plot and rising/falling action.
In addition to posing timeless, universally applicable existential questions, it also tries to maintain a topical relevance and realism—staying mostly within the borders of what we currently know about lunar exploration, manned space flight, modern energy needs, near-future dilemmas such as the ethics of responsible cloning, and more.
This distinction is important because it demonstrates how rare films like “Moon” are, that make you pay attention and think as opposed to being a passive viewer of frenetically paced fantasy action and adventure. This is a refreshing departure from franchise and sequel-dominated big FX flicks like the Transformers or Star Wars films It’s a challenge to pull a film like this off successfully, as measured by audience appreciation and critical praise, not necessarily box office bucks.

SOME CRITICS CONTEND THAT THIS MOVIE LEAVES TOO MANY QUESTIONS UNANSWERED. CAN YOU THINK OF ANY SUCH QUESTIONS?
Reviewer Richard Scheib wrote: “The main problem I have is that the film seems to be all build up but oddly missing a third act. 
o There is a great deal of conceptual mystery created – why are there dozens of clones of Sam Rockwell beneath the base on The Moon? 
o Who put them there? 
o How come two clones were activated at once? 
o Why does the company make so much effort to imprint them with memories of the original Sam and provide him with faked tapes of his family, yet keep communication with Earth blocked? 
o If the capacity existed to imprint each clone with memories, then the capacity also existed to imprint them with no or few memories, thus removing the need to create such an elaborate facade. 
o If Sam is the only person on the base and in the near area then why build direct communication towers with Earth and then disable them – what purpose can they serve? 
o Would the controllers not be more actively monitoring of what happens and take steps to prevent the clones from returning to Earth or making contact with Sam’s family? 
o The computer GERTY seems to behave in ways that do not make sense – it appears to be communicating live with Earth at one point, but nothing further is made of this, while its mandate to protect Sam Rockwell from knowledge is overridden with absurd ease.”

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