No, it's really not a coincidence that a movie from a South African director, District 9, has aliens being treated like second-class citizens. In a new interview, Peter Jackson explains that yes, the movie really is all about apartheid. Spoilers?
The NZ Herald has an interview with Jackson, and the article also explains a bit more of this movie's plot, which revolves around
a multinational corporation, MNU, charged with policing the aliens while trying to find out their technological secrets. When an MNU agent is accidentally exposed to a mysterious alien substance, he finds himself a hunted man.
And Jackson explains how heart-breaking it was when the Halo movie that he and director Neill Blomkamp were going to make fell through, and how they decided to turn Blomkamp's short film Alive In Joburg into a low-budget feature film instead. And then Jackson adds:
It's difficult for a young film-maker to do anything that is based on life experience to some degree because if you are in your 20s you haven't had much life experience. You sometimes feel that there is some kid making a film and it is just based on some other movies that he has seen.
But Neill grew up in the dying days of apartheid in South Africa and he saw all the ugliness and all the brutality and how it affects people in different ways and all that is in the movie.
You just totally understand how he was approaching it from an authentic place - from a real South African perspective. He really loves Africa and he's tried to put a lot of it into the movie.
As for Blomkamp, he says he has a love/hate relationship with Johannesburg, and that the city's insane crime level gives it a feeling of living on the edge. And it turns out the filming of District 9 coincided with real-life massacres of Zimbabwean refugees living in nearby shanty towns:
It was completely barbaric what happened and that was the same day we started rolling cameras on a film that was about the residents of Joburg wanting a foreign race out. So all of a sudden I am making a film which within South African has this massive political point of view but really that isn't what we set out to do. So I hope that the residents of Joburg don't take it the wrong way.
And the article describes District 9 as RoboCop-meets-fake-documentary. Which doesn't sound like a bad thing at all. [NZ Herald]