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Movie review : Moon

The moon has been an object of fascination for human beings since time unknown. So near, but yet so far. So beautiful but yet full of craters. So barren, but yet so resourceful. Resourceful? Indeed, the moon has millions of tones of Helium-3 embedded in the soil blown in by lunar winds. Helium-3 is one of the potential raw materials for a nuclear fusion reaction. With natural resources on earth fast dwindling and nuclear energy fast picking up popularity, helium-3 harvesting is one of the best available options available.

The moon has been a part of almost all ancient cultures and has had an important role to play in the calendars, poetry, mythological stories and also deity worshipping. In the past century, after the advent of feature films, outer space has gained great importance and films like 2001: A space odyssey, Solaris and Alien have been hugely popular. The post is about the 2009 film MOON, a British sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell. The film has been chosen over scores of other sci-fi films simply because it shows both advantages and moral hazards of modern technology.

The film revolves around a single character Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) who is stationed at moon whose main responsibility is to send helium-3 canisters to earth in a space module. His 3 year contract at moon is nearing its end. The process of helium harvesting is almost fully automated and Sam has a robotic assistant GERTY to help him with his day to day activities. He is in constant touch with his wife and (now almost 3-year old) daughter. One day while going for his regular round of Helium harvesting, he meets with an accident and while he is recovering, he is not allowed to venture outside by GERTY. But realizing that there was something fishy, Sam tricks GERTY and somehow goes out of the Lunar base and finds a look alike of him injured in an accident. The audience is made to realize at this moment that the Sam recovering right now is someone else and the one injured in the accident has never been rescued. The new Sam seems to realize gradually that all of them could be clones. But it becomes quite difficult for the original Sam to come to terms with the truth. The rest of the film is about how the two Sams take control of the situation and how they fight back.

The film is a technological marvel. Though the film does not reveal much about when the story is taking place, it can be reasonably assumed that it is set somewhere in 2050s. Let us start with the idea of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. The robot GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) is highly intelligent and can converse with Sam on any topic under the sun. Not only that, it can also show emotions. Though it has a monotonous voice, it has a graphical display to show smileys by which it is able to communicate a number of feelings with Sam. The film also shows that GERTY has been programmed to take good care of Sam; it is not reluctant to take Sam’s life whenever required. Thus in a way GERTY almost symbolizes the present day human beings who develop relationships and can emote with fellow human beings but are smart enough to sacrifice these emotions when required.

The idea of parallel computing and co-operative robots has been captured well by the film. GERTY, physically is not a single robot but many different robots, the nearest physical unit to Sam communicating with him as and when required. At the same time, GERTY is sharing the same memory resources and probably a single core – processor. The film also has shown a very realistic picture of robotics. Instead of showing high flying robots like in films like Star wars, it has shown a simple 6-axis or 7-axis robot which is quite adept at simple mechanical tasks.

Space technology has really evolved and the film paints a very true picture of things to happen. A Lunar base has been set up on the moon, where an earth like environment is being maintained for Sam. The space modules which frequently transfer the Helium-3 between earth and moon also seem a highly realistic proposition.

And finally, let’s get into the main subject of the movie- CLONING. Man is being used by Lunar industries as a commodity and with the help of his so called wife and daughter, it has become very easy to play with his emotions and keep him under control. In fact, the ultimate aim of ‘getting back to earth’ is shown as the main incentive to Sam because of which he is bearing the pain of solitude. The cloning technology has not evolved to the extent that the same clone can be used for years together. Every three years, the clone requires a replacement as his body becomes weak and succumbs to the regular wear and tear of the highly demanding job performed in adverse conditions. Also, the inhuman way in which the clone is treated in the end also shows how inhuman man can get for earning a few dollars. Every clone is asked to sit in a module (supposed to take him to earth) and there he is incinerated.

The film thus is one of its kind capturing various human emotions and technological evolution at the same time. The film also shows the ultimate victory of human mind over technology, ironically, though the latter is a result of human mind itself. The film was a limited release but nevertheless picked up two BAFTAs. It features in the 39th position in the top 50 sci-fi flicks on imdb.

Hopefully, my article was able to TAKE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK.

I had written the above post for the System Consulting Club blog. You can find it here as well…


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