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British Cinema

Moon (UK 2008)

Sam Rockwell as the sole worker at the Moon base.

Sam Rockwell as the sole worker at the Moon base.

Moon is a film that I feel that I should like, but halfway through I thought “I’m just not enjoying this”. Afterwards, I couldn’t work out what was bugging me and so I conclude that the problem is with me and not the film.

I should like it because it is a deliberate attempt to recreate the look and feel of the ‘hard SF films’ from the late 1960s and early 1970s. The filmmakers, writer-director Duncan Jones and scriptwriter Nathan Parker, name their inspirations as Silent Running (1972), Outland (1981), Blade Runner (1982) and Alien (1979). For Nick and myself I think the references were Dark Star (1974) and Solaris (1972 and 2002) and everybody else has mentioned 2001 (1968). I’ve also seen a reference to Android (1982) somewhere.

The narrative is based on a simple premise. Some time in the future, Earth has turned to a form of fusion energy that involves mining something on the Moon (I think we were told what, but I don’t remember). Sam is coming to the end of his three year shift when things start to go wrong. He sets off to investigate why one of the automatic mining machines is not fulfilling its quota. He has an accident and wakes up in the sick bay where the ship’s computer (voiced by Kevin Spacey) is solicitous. How did he get back to the sick bay? Is he seeing things in the lunar base?

The best things about the film are the tawdry surroundings of the base and the effective characterisation of Sam Rockwell. There isn’t anything particularly original, but it works well as a genre film.

The really interesting question is how did this low budget (by US standards) film manage to find $5 million without funding from the usual UK sources and then go on to make an impression at Sundance and get a US release (where it has made more than $4 million so far – with more than $1 million in the UK)? Duncan Jones aka Zowie Bowie obviously has the right American friends and contacts (including Clint Mansell, the composer associated with Darren Aronofsky). However, he is clearly a talented filmmaker and deserves a break.

Interesting background on the film can be found here:

http://www.indiewire.com/article/man_on_the_moon_duncan_jones_details_his_sci-fi_debut/

Ironically, the most ‘British’ aspect of this film is the use of Kevin Spacey’s voice for the computer. This teaser trailer gives a good idea of the film.

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