Blog Archives

Digital Participation – Film Review: District 9 (2009)

Link to the official movie website:

District 9 (2009) is a film directed by Neill Blomkamp who is South African and also co-wrote the script. I found that this film was inspired by events that happened during the apartheid era in South Africa:

How people were forced to leave their homes, evicted from the place that was the foundation of their entire lives was terrible. A main theme that I saw in this film was xenophobia through speciesism (which I discovered is an actual term and not something I coined while watching this even though I thought I did for a solid two minutes before deciding to Google it) similar to racism. The aliens were being called prawns which was described in the film as a derogatory term meaning “bottom feeder, one who scavenges the leftovers”. After twenty years, there was public pressure for the removal of the aliens who had simply lost leadership and wanted to return home with no way of doing so.

For the design of the aliens, I would have to say that their features can be mostly characterized as those of an anthropod. Their eyes are what stood out to me for a lot of the emotion that they evoked was told through the eyes which exhibited anthropomorphism besides walking on two legs and not four or eighteen.

What I loved the most about this film is how it took on the form of a documentary. One particularly style that was incorporated was cinéma vérité, which means truthful cinema. The camera-person is an observer, filming whatever is happening before him or her which sometimes includes interaction with those in front of the camera. This gave rawness to District 9. And even still when there was not a physical camera-person there, the hand-held camera or shaky camera cinematographic technique was used, and I felt right like I was in the very setting being shown.

This film created a lot of controversy among Nigerians for how they were depicted as criminals and cannibals. In the film, the Nigerians in D-9 ran various scams: selling cat food to the alien for exorbitant prices, interspecies prostitution, and dealing in alien weaponry. I find this interesting not only for specifically choosing Nigerians to be the group of people living in the compound area near the aliens which was considered a slum, but also given that Nigeria is known for the scam involving spam emails asking for money and bank information as stated in this article discussing affect of this film in Nigeria: