WHat if you had to defend paradise? (My review of Elysium)


My dad is in town and we went out to watch the movie Elysium. I have to admit that being in a theater is amazing, I haven’t been since Toy Story three came out. But back to the subject at hand, Elysium is a mixed bag of everything. It has adventure, special affects, good acting, a good story and lots of symbolism. At first glance you’d figure it is essentially The Bourne Identity set in the future. But there is a lot more too it then that. I will be telling how the story ends so don’t read it if you don’t want to find out what exactly happens.

(spoiler alert)

The movie is set in 2150 and essentially the world has been drained of all resources and is now overpopulated. The higher classes have created a star shaped space station and are living up there. The contrast is very stark, it is Mac white up in the station and the situation on the ground looks like Mexico City, which is coincidentally where it is shot. The contrast is every where. The elites live in the sky and the lower classes on the ground. The lower classes work in the factories that the rich own. The dichotomy is very striking.

The main character, Matt Damon, ends up being irradiated at his work and only has 5 days to live before his body functions stop. So he makes it his mission to get up into the space station to get into a machine that heals any infirmity. However you don’t just travel up there willy nilly you have to either be smuggled up there or be a member. So Matt Damon’s character talks with an underground criminal boss to get him up there. The criminal boss will do if he does a really dangerous job for him. Damon ends up succeeding in this mission. The story then proceeds with a lot of action and Damon reuniting with an old friend who has a daughter who has lymphoma and also needs to get up to the station. They end up going up there but essentially time runs out for Damon and instead of him healing himself in one of the machines the friends daughter is healed.

What really struck me about this movie is that has a lot of symbolism in it but there is also a much deeper question that is being asked. First of Matt Damon’s character is Christ like in many ways. He dies at the end of the movie however because of his sacrifice all the people on earth are made citizens of the space station and there by receive medical aid from the station. Also guardian robots of the station don’t allow violence against other citizens so the space station dwellers could not continue being oppressive to the earth dwellers. Apparently there is also a white horse at one point in the movie, which might be a reference to Christ in Revelations about him riding on a pale horse. I don’t know entirely. I had a couple more questions about the movie. Was the director also making a point about the occupation of Iraq/Afghanistan with its no fly zone and robot enforced peace? Why was Matt Damon the only white guy in LA?

But the real underlying question to me was, what would you do to preserve paradise. If you had attempted to make the world a better place and every one had rejected this would you end up making a space station paradise? What would you do to protect it? The defense minister of the space station asks this question to the president of the station. Would you share this with the people on the earth? When they just take and take? It is a very valid question to ask. When you have made this amazing place would you just share this with everyone when it is likely they will just exploit it and leave the station in the same shape as earth?

 There are many more issues and motifs that this movie brings, but it is covered in the mantle of an action movie which is maybe where this movie truly excels at. The cool technology and the fighting are top notch. I heartily recommend this movie not just for the action but also for the many questions that it asks.

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