Both District 9 and Metropolis are burdened with heroes that we, the audience, aren't likely to want to identify with. Metropolis gets around this by making its protagonist display the heroism and moral fortitude that we'd all like to believe we'd have given his situation. He acts out of love and then out of common decency. Van der Merwe is a stooge and when he grows a conscience it's only in the most extreme of situations, when he is forced to literally live in the skin of the "prawns" and witness the inhumanity toward them. Perhaps because in modern times we simply can't believe a man of business would become a moral champion without being dragged into it kicking or screaming. Perhaps it's because audiences no longer identify with unapologetic heroes (even superheros these days are painted with serious amounts of pathos and self-doubt). However, no one wants to identify with a racist. District 9 director Blomkamp cleverly provides us with a tough road to tolerance, making his aliens disgusting, unsettling, and violent creatures. Van der Merwe does eventually capture our sympathies because we see in him, not immediate heroism, but the capacity to learn and change. Our standards for heroism have changed in eighty years, or just gotten more realistic. And eventually, Van der Merwe too acts out of love.
|The original bio-technology|
enjoy this take down by dissenter H.G. Welles), highly edited, nearly incoherent versions. Therein perhaps lies the main lesson in the comparison of these two films. Anyone looking to stir up controversy today should tackle a subject other than the eternal, unresolvable struggle between the haves and have-nots. Which may not necessarily be such a good sign of progress. Because while we almost all now agree with the triumphantness of the statement, we've also accepted the inevitability of the premise.