An honourable mention for 2013’s best films is Neill Blomkamp’s science fiction thriller Elysium. What? Hilary watched an action film? I did… and I did not enjoy the action, I enjoyed the film’s overarching message. Oh… and Jodie Foster as a platinum blonde villain is a must. There were several themes at work in this film including class division, racial segregation, and the accessibility of healthcare. To quote Blomkamp, “This isn’t science fiction. This is today. This is now.”
The concept of an idyllic space station speaks levels to the degree of separation involved in American society. Though we live in the same nation, the division of our people based on wealth and race has created a colossal chasm in our ability to empathize and sympathize with one another. Two of the biggest factors in American society are immigration and healthcare; I believe these topics were Blomkamp’s main concern. While I will not state my own opinions on the matter, I will analyze the prevalent liberal point-of-view of the director involving a Christ-like/Barack Obama character to save the citizens of Earth from perishing.
Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) has been exposed to radiation on his job site and knows his only hope of survival lies on Elysium (the space station) as each house possesses an all-curing machine called “Med-Bays.” The reference to healthcare and upper-class, white citizens is not subtle. The citizens of Elysium speak French and can afford high tech devices to accommodate every-day living; their culture distances and identifies themselves in opposition to the inhabitants of Earth. The healthcare theme is sealed by the presence of sick children on Earth, including Max’s childhood sweetheart’s daughter, Matilda, who is suffering in the final stages of Leukemia. Blomkamp clearly plays on the sympathies of his audience by asking us to “think of the children” and their future in terms of healthcare.
The man to deliver medical salvation to Earthlings is our radiation-poisoned, orphaned Max. He is the Christ-figure who fights the system to give equal access to healthcare to all people. In order to literally reboot Elysium’s system, Max is surgically “crucified” and gains a new body that is half machine. As a result, he is now able to store important digital information in his brain pertaining to Elysium’s system. To skip to the end of the drawn-out plot (**SPOILER ALERT**), Max is ultimately the Christ by giving up his life in order to extract the information from his brain that will cause everyone on Earth to become citizens of Elysium which enables them to have healthcare.
While the action is long-winded, exaggerated, and completely unrealistic, the obvious left-leaning themes were enjoyable to spot and parallel to our own existence. The concept was an interesting way to get the message of immigration and healthcare across: people are literally outside the realm of wealth and privilege. Whether in 2014 or 2154, it seems like the “one percent” is still in power.