In the future, Matt Damon toils on an overpopulated, diseased and polluted earth, while the one-percenters — or .00001-percenters — luxuriate on a space station paradise where cancer is cured at the touch of a button.
That’s the premise of “Elysium,” South African director Neill Blomkamp’s mystery-shrouded follow-up to his 2009 Oscar-nominated sci-fi film, “District 9.”
Blomkamp showed about seven minutes of footage from “Elysium” at Comic-Con, enough to give the audience a taste of the dusty, Third World Earth he envisioned for the year 2159 — much of it shot in a giant garbage dump in Mexico.
Damon and Jodie Foster, who plays a government minister on “Elysium,” were on hand to discuss the footage, as was actor Sharlto Copley, who worked with Blomkamp on “District 9.”
The footage included some unfinished visual effects of space ships, as well as a look at weaponry and Damon’s transformation in the future world.
In an interview before their appearance in Comic-Con’s Hall H, Blomkamp and Foster shared a little more background on “Elysium.”
Blomkamp, who also wrote the screenplay, said he was taken with “the idea of this habitat in space being a metaphor for rich and poor, thinking about haves and haves nots.”
Blomkamp said he designed the space station — a 125-kilometer sphere — to be scientifically plausible.
“It’s like an inner tube of a tire,” Blomkamp said. “Civilization lives on the inner side. It’s a real, scientific thing that could theoretically be built. It would just take a hell of a lot of money.”
Only the elite make it to Elysium –“A low-end citizenship deal would go for $1 billion, and that’s only for one family member,” Blomkamp said. And it’s the job of Foster’s Secretary Rhodes to keep the hoi polloi out.
“She is a minister on this habitat and is fighting to keep it pure,” Foster said. “She’s a political animal and tough and French.”
Like “District 9,”a sci-fi allegory for apartheid, “Elysium” has topical relevance to the issues of immigration and economic inequality.
“These topics are massively interesting to me and probably part of that comes from growing up in South Africa,” Blomkamp said. “Elysium has elements that are more important than just a film with explosions.”
— Rebecca Keegan
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