Director Duncan Jones sat down with actor Sam Rockwell and reminisced about the sci-fi films of the late 60’s and 70’s. The result of that meeting was the film Moon. You can see the influences of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent Running, Soylent Green and others throughout the film, and yet Moon stands on its own quite well.
I’ve complained for years that we have lost the high-concept, socially-aware science fiction films of the 70’s, replaced by soulless special effects extravaganzas. Somewhere along the way, Hollywood forgot how to make a good small sci-fi film (of course there are exceptions, but they are rare). Moon is a very welcome return to that era, but the subject matter is very rooted in modern times.
Sam Rockwell plays “Sam Bell” an astronaut rapidly nearing the end of a three-year stint alone on the Moon. He’s homesick and mostly disconnected from Earth due to a satellite problem that occurred right after he arrived. An accident changes everything on the base and that plot twist has both you and Sam wondering what’s going on until the end.
While there are a few bit parts (and Kevin Spacey plays a talking computer like HAL), this is basically a one-man film, and Sam Rockwell does a great job with his performance. The direction of Moon is fairly straight-forward, but good and tight. Duncan Jones doesn’t try to outshine his own movie and that makes Moon even stronger. The soundtrack is also minimal but powerful, by the brilliant composer Clint Mansell, who is rapidly becoming a favorite.
What I like most about Moon are some things I can’t talk about because I’d spoil the movie for someone who hasn’t seen it, and I’d like to encourage you to see the movie. Among other things, the film deals with loneliness, the sanctity of life, your purpose in life and the morality of requiring one person to sacrifice for the greater good of society. I went to see this film with a friend and we had a great conversation afterward about these issues, and about the twists in the film. Any film that gives me that opportunity is truly high art.
The pacing of this film is similar to the films of the 70’s too, which I appreciate but some people will deplore, so I’m not suggesting that everyone run out and see Moon. However, if you miss the great science fiction films of the past and would like to see more smart sci-fi films, then seek out and support Moon.
As an aside, I’d like to point out that Duncan Jones’ next project is what he calls a “love letter” to Blade Runner. This guy is speaking my language!