by Ben Cohen
South African Alien flick 'District 9' is a modern day allegory to the country's painful racial past, and is one of the most original movies to come out this year.
The basic premise is that Aliens have been trapped on earth and forced to live as second class citizens in a prison like ghetto in Johannesburg. Referred to as 'Prawns' by the locals for their unsightly appearance, the Aliens are subjected to profiling, wanton abuse, illegal detainment and outright murder. The movie pits the Aliens against the brutal humans in a fight to achieve their freedom and escape to their home planet.
Anyone who has a vague understanding on the history of apartheid will find this movie eerily familiar as the Aliens are demeaned in the exact same language as blacks were. In one scene, after the South African government decides to move the Aliens out of the city to a new detainment style camp, the main character, Wikus, justifies the action by saying that 'Prawns don't understand property rights'. This was a major argument used by the Apartheid government to justify white rule in a predominantly black country.
The Aliens are accused by humans of breeding to quickly, having innate criminal tendencies and inferior intelligence - again, familiar language adopted by racial supremacists in South Africa.
Other than its moral premise, it is a fantastic action film with an intelligent plot line and hellacious pace. If you see one movie this year, District 9 should be top of the list.