If only I could see what you’ve seen with your eyes…

In the 2000’s we start to see films that feature humans who are sympathetic toward aliens, and vice-versa. Movies begin to arise that put the humans in the antagonist spot—a theme not often seen before turn of the century.

Before the dawn of the 2000’s, there were scarcely any movies that featured aliens as antagonists. Close Encounters, Enemy Mine, and ET are the only ones that come to mind. While science fiction films are all narrative in nature, these new alien movies suggest ideological meaning that deconstructs the nature of humankind. In James Cameron’s Avatar and the film District 9, both sweeping blockbusters, the anti-human themes are explicit and prevalent to the plot.

The settings for Avatar and District 9 are quite opposite, but the general idea that humans are evil and aliens are good ties the two together. Avatar is designed with a gorgeous spectrum of colors, blinking natural lights and glorious, lush landscapes. In Avatar, the main character finds his way into a tribe of aliens who he manages to befriend. During his stay, he falls in love with the beautiful atmosphere and admires the close-knit interaction that the aliens have with the wildlife around them. He longs to stay with them and be part of their culture—a culture quite opposite of modern human society.


(Above: Jake connects with Pandora’s wildlife in Avatar)

The audience grows to adore the alien Navii as well, wanting to live in a world like theirs. Here, the aliens are the protagonists. The antagonists are the humans who plan to mow down Pandora’s wildlife, destroying creatures, plants, and slaughtering native tribes in order to get to drilling sites so that they can dig for expensive minerals.


(A Na’vi bonds with her mount in Avatar)

District 9’s composition is much different from the glowing rave-forests of Pandora. The film takes place on the barren wasteland of an alien reservation, where no plants grow and houses are scrap-sewn lean-tos that look like they’re about to collapse with a strong breeze. The color pallet features dusty browns and rusted metallics, sand and dirt the gritting the picture with a feeling of isolation and the tint of poverty. In the plot, an alien ship crash-lands on Earth and is discovered by humans. The aliens inside are malnourished and frightened, and even though they can’t understand the humans they are afraid of the machine guns muzzled into their guts and are taken into human custody. Sickly and weakened, the alien race is subjected to the will of the humans, who experiment on them and discover their intelligence. After political debates, it is decided that the aliens should be treated like thinking beings and are given plots of land where they can live. Their technology, including their ship, is stolen by the humans and their reservations are wrapped in barbed wire and patrolled by scores of gunned men. The alien’s homes and children are often taken away for unfair or made up reasons, and their food is distributed to them in pathetic amounts. The aliens are frowned upon by human society as unclean and uncivilized—savages.


(Above: an alien is arrested in District 9)

Both of these films, while about aliens, seem to mirror what humankind has done to itself over history. In particular, the blight struck upon the Native American race is used for the basis of both Avatar and District 9’s plots. There is an explicit theme of the evils of a human power-trip, but there is also the implicit idea that situations like these have really happened in the past. The take-over of the Navii’s land and the prosecution of their people harkens to the English settlement in America, when the Native Americans were driven from their land. In the same respect, District 9 mirrors the reservation lands that the Native American peoples were forced onto. The unfair treatment and abuse of the aliens in this film reflect the cruelty that the Native Americans had to undergo in America’s history.Image

(Above: an alien is being evicted in District 9)

Other films that were released in the 2000’s that follow the trend of alien protagonists and human prosecution are Paul, Super 8, Transformers, I am Number Four, and Lilo and Stitch.

Eviction scene from District 9: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq4i8XlWilQ

All images found via Google’s image search engine


~ by allaliens on April 10, 2013.

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