Archive for apartheid

so long, Johnny Clegg!

Posted in Kids with tags , , , , , , on July 17, 2019 by xi'an

“Stein deviates from the statistical norm”

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , on November 27, 2016 by xi'an


District 9

Posted in Kids with tags , , on November 15, 2009 by xi'an

District 9 came out while I was in New York City this summer and the Metro newspaper (and its alter egos) was so highly enthusiastic that I vaguely tried to go and see the movie while there. It did not work out in the end because going to the movies is not priority #1 when visiting NYC for a few days. As the  original (English) version of District 9 happened to be shown in a nearby theater (presumably for the last time in the vicinity!), I went there with my son on Friday night to take advantage of this opportunity. There were very few people in the theater, unsurprisingly, but the movie is a real gem! I won’t get into a full review mode, see Mark Huber’s entry for that, especially about the surprise factor, but I found the story fast-paced and quite gripping, despite a few shortcuts in the plot (like the recovery of the cannister), the filming unusual and innovative, through news archives and interviews,  and the themes presented there very compelling. The analogy between the aliens and black South-Africans during the apartheid era is obvious, but the themes of racism and exclusion run deeper, with a large role played by a nebulous corporation called MNU that takes care of policing District 9 but  actually engages into illegal biological research on the aliens. (The behaviour of the security guards is not without reminding me of Blackwater mercenaries in Irak.) Another strength of District 9 is the choice of the hero Wikus van de Merwe, who first behaves like an absolute cretin, cowardly implementing the orders of the corporation and exhibiting all the typical patterns of xenophobia. His moral transformation under extreme circumstances is the more interesting for this inauspicious start—and it reminded me of this older story set in South Africa where a rare disease turns a racist white woman into a black woman and where she has to cope with the discrimination in her turn, a rather easy but effective narrative trick—.  It is harder to relate to the main alien character, despite its anthropomorphism, but District 9 manages to drive the spectator far enough into this direction. The least enjoyable part of District 9 is the very long battle scene at the end of the movie which does not bring much, once the sacrificial choice of van de Merwe is stated. (It feels too much like a video game, with the hero’s life not being truly at stake.) The final news snapshots are a fitting end to the movie.

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