Here’s the thing. There is this movie which I watched and loved but I don’t know how to talk about it. The less I say the better. Some films are like that – being so spoiler sensitive that the best service you can give the movie is to shut up.
What am I supposed to put in my write-up? I don’t know. I’ll think it over a bit, and meanwhile I’ll ramble a little about my life-long attraction to space, since I guess it’s somewhat related.
As a child I dreamed about becoming an astronaut. I also wanted to become a queen and a professional wine-and-cheese-taster. I became neither. The closest I got was an astronomer; I did seriously consider it as an alternative for a career, until I went on a weeklong internship at the astronomy institution when I was about 16 years old.
It was at that point that I realized that astronomers in reality didn’t spend a lot of time watching stars through a telescope. That was about the last thing they did. I remember speaking to one guy whose entire research had to do with the leaning angle of some rocks in the asteroid belt. All he did was examining the statistics for all those giant stones. He didn’t watch the stars. He stared at numbers. For a teenager who dreamed about what it would be like to colonize space, this looked immensely boring and unimaginative. He could as well have studied the angles of nuts and bolts in a concrete factory. So my life path took a different direction.
But the love for science fiction has followed me throughout my life ever since I read Asimov’s Foundation as a child. I always marveled at Hari Seldon’s time vault sessions and felt a chill down my spine as we got the shocking revelation about the second foundation and the mutant that put everything in disorder. Those books don’t stand a revisit very well, but it doesn’t take away from them my original reading experience, which was fantastic. Ray Bradbury was another author who opened worlds to me, and as opposed to Asimov’s writings, his short stories are still absolutely enjoyable, since they’re so well written, The Martian Chronicles probably being my favorite.
Considering my background it’s probably no wonder that I fell so completely in love with Duncan Jones’ Moon (yes, I’m finally going to talk a bit about the movie I’ve watched).
I can’t tell you a lot about the plot, but I’ll give you this much: Sam Rockwell plays an astronaut, the only employee at a space station on the Moon. His computer GERTY keeps him company and occasionally he gets recorded messages from his wife and child on Earth. His three year long assignment is going towards its end, and it’s about time. The isolation is starting to get to him and he can’t wait to go home. And that’s as much as I’ll give you.
This is something as old fashioned as a piece of classic science fiction, a story about ideas. Not about oversized robots tossing each other into skyscrapers. Not about cowboys who fire arms at each other, disguised in space suits. It doesn’t take a mega sized budget to make it. It takes a vision, a good script, basically an interesting idea. Such a rare spawn these days.
The director did incredibly well use of the comparatively modest budget of 5 million dollars – so well that he this year got the chance to make Source Code with a way bigger budget. But as we’ve seen so many times before, there is very little correspondence between the size of the wallet and how good the movie is. I thought Source Code was absolutely OK, even fine, but it didn’t stand out the way Moon does, which went straight into my top 20 or possibly even top 10 list of science fiction movies. It doesn’t beat Blade Runner, Solyaris, Alien or 2001: A Space Odyssey, but blimey, it’s right beneath.
Moon (Duncan Jones, UK, 2009) My rating: 5/5