When this came out in 2009 it was with great anticipation and excitement.
Neill Blomkamp had previously directed a few short films Tetra Vaal, Yellow and Alive in Joburg.
The story goes that Peter Jackson had seen Blomkamp’s shorts including the wonderful Alive in Jo’Burg and ended up producing this very interesting sci-fi
The brilliant short film ‘Alive in Jo’Burg’ was a direct inspiration for D9 and came to the attention of Peter Jackson, who went on to produce this intelligent sci-fi film with a distinctly new take on the townships problems and making the residents literal aliens . He used real interviews with residents in the short film, asking them how they felt about Nigerians and Zimbabweans. This gave him the idea of replacing the humans with aliens as an allegory.
Watching Alive in Jo’Burg you can see the director’s strengths, the shaky cam making the effects much more believable. It is a brilliant short that was a fantastic calling card for Blomkamp.
Here, he elaborates on his short by creating a film that comments on racism in South Africa and putting the aliens into the townships, out of sight of the human residents.
In 1982 a massive alien craft comes to a standstill over Johannesburg and we find out that the aliens inside are starving and have no way of flying away, so, stranded, they are transported off the ship and relocated to a refugee camp that over the years becomes a militarized ghetto.
Wikkus Van De Merwe, brilliantly played by Sharlto Copley, works for MNU (Multi-National United), a weapons corporation, and, as he is married to the boss’s daughter, he is given the task of evicting the aliens to a concentration camp outside the city. This makes for some brilliantly realistic scenes of interaction between the aliens (all played by Jason Cope) all of which were predominantly improvised by Copley and Cope.
Wikkus is exposed to an alien formula that he has confiscated making his life very difficult as the effects of this become clear. Copley shows his range here throughout his journey and we see a character that is building and growing as he goes through his transformation.
If you haven’t seen this, I highly recommend it for a piece of innovative film-making and a welcome addition to the sci-fi world.