Philippine society, as we all know, is very divisive. Indeed, it’s mostly our divisiveness that’s making our country so dysfunctional in the first place. I mean sure, we all have our differences, but I have to ask: Do we really have to take our differences so far? Must we really get to the point where we need to dehumanize one another? Are we really so different that we seem like different creatures to one another?
This is why now, I’d like to recommend and discuss another film of interest: Elysium.
Elysium is a sci-fi film starring Matt Damon (whom most of you probably know from the Bourne series of films) and directed by Neill Blomkamp (whose other films include District 9 and Chappie) that shows us a dysfunctional future. Matt Damon plays the role of Max DaCosta, a recently-released convicted car thief who just wants to start a new and hopefully socially and financially productive life. Unfortunately, due to an accident at work, Max receives a lethal dose of radiation, reducing his life expectancy to just a few days at best and, to add insult to the injury, is unceremoniously terminated from his job with little to no benefits of any kind.
Due to his dire circumstances, Max is once again forced to return to a life of crime. Thing is, the world in Elysium is a time of unbelievable disparity. The wealthiest of people live on a luxurious space station, the titular Elysium, where there every whim and want is addressed and a place wherein disease simply does not exist due to med-pods, large machines that can cure any disease. However, the rest of humanity, those who are too poor to afford accommodations in Elysium, are forced to live on an Earth rife with pollution, disorder and widespread sicknesses. With the help of some allies, Max becomes dead set on reaching Elysium and curing himself of radiation sickness.
What I like about this film is that it reminds me all too much of the disparity between the rich and poor in the Philippines. I see the kind of contempt the rich in Elysium have for the poor in a lot of our officials, especially those associated with the every hypocritical LP who while they may claim to care for the poor, often treat them like garbage. From hoarding food and medicine to just being generally a dick to those in need, one doesn’t need to look very hard to see the similarity between the inhabitants of Elysium to Filipino oligarchs.
On the other hand, what I did not like about the film was the way it all seemed so one-sided. The wealthy inhabitants of Elysium are made to look like selfish monsters while the impoverished people of Earth are portrayed as saintly heroes. I think it sends a kind of wrong message to viewers since it forces one to assume that everyone on the luxurious space station are greedy tycoons while the poor Earthlings are all desperate victims. Truth be told, I found myself thinking that the movie would have been better if a sympathetic person from Elysium was shown to do volunteer work for Earthlings was included in the film. Also, I couldn’t bring myself to fully trust “Spider”, the crime boss who helped Max in his trouble as he seems very shady and could be just as bad or even worse than the dwellers of Elysium.
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