Moon is a 2009 science fiction/psychological thriller film about a solitary lunar employee who experiences a personal crisis as the end of his three-year stint nears. It is the feature debut of director Duncan Jones. Sam Rockwell stars as the employee and Kevin Spacey voices his robot companion. Moon premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and was released in selected theatres in New York and Los Angeles on 12 June 2009. The release was expanded to additional theatres in the United States and Toronto on both 3 and 10 July and was released in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland on 17 July.
|Directed by||Duncan Jones|
|Produced by||Stuart Fenegan |
|Written by||Screenplay: |
|Starring||Sam Rockwell |
|Music by||Clint Mansell|
|Editing by||Nicolas Gaster|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|Release date(s)||23 January 2009 (Sundance Film Festival) |
12 June 2009 (limited)
17 July 2009
8 October 2009
|Running time||97 minutes|
|Gross revenue||$7,166,021 (worldwide)|
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Release and reception
- 5 Awards
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is an employee contracted by the company Lunar Industries to extract helium-3 from lunar soil for much-needed clean energy back on Earth, leaving behind his wife Tess, who is (at the time of his leaving) heavily pregnant with their daughter, Eve. He is stationed for three years at the largely automated "Sarang" (sarang means love in Korean) lunar base with only a robotic assistant named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) for company; a chronic communications satellite failure limits him to only occasional recorded transmissions to and from Earth as fixing the link is currently not among the top priorities of Lunar Industries. Two weeks before completing his contract, he begins to hallucinate, briefly seeing a teenage girl on the station. During a routine rover excursion to retrieve ready canisters of helium-3 from a harvesting machine, he sees the same girl standing on the lunar surface. Distracted, he crashes the rover into the harvester, losing internal atmosphere and switching in a hurry to the suit life support.
Sam awakens in the infirmary and GERTY tells him that he is recovering from injuries sustained in an accident. Sam's suspicion is aroused when he eavesdrops on a live communication between GERTY and Lunar Industries headquarters, and learns that GERTY will not allow him outside the base. A message from Lunar Industries executives informs him that a rescue crew is on the way, to repair the harvester and take him home. Sam sabotages a base gas pipe to convince GERTY to allow him outside to repair the fault. Once outside the base, Sam instead goes to investigate the damaged harvester, where he finds someone barely alive in the crashed rover: another Sam Bell, identical to himself. He brings this Sam (the first Sam) back to the Sarang base.
The two Sams struggle to come to grips with the existence of each other, each believing the other to be a clone of himself, with the first Sam's physical and mental state beginning to rapidly deteriorate. The second Sam reflects himself at the beginning of his contract; sharp, headstrong and short-tempered. Unable to find answers in the base, as to the reasons for the inability to contact earth "live", they investigate the source of the base's communication problem by venturing outside the base's perimeter. There they find a series of antennas jamming direct live communication with Earth. The first Sam starts feeling pain and becoming ill, and returns to base where their suspicions of cloning are confirmed when, with the aid of GERTY, he discovers video logs of previous Sam Bell clones: working, becoming ill, getting into the "hibernation" pod to return home, and being incinerated. The three-year "contract" is actually the clone's life-span as GERTY insinuates.
Now with a better understanding of the nature of his existence, he explores the death chamber further, discovering a hidden chamber beneath it. The two Sams explore the chamber together, finding an extensive cache of clones, each one with the same set of clothes close by. The first Sam takes a rover out beyond the jammers, and establishes an up-link with the Bell residence using a portable rugged communication device. He dials home and, while blinding the camera, he speaks with Eve – now 15 years old – who was the girl he had seen previously in his hallucinations. He learns that Tess has died "some years ago", and that the original Sam Bell is alive on Earth.
With only a few hours before the "rescue" team arrives, the two Sams realise that if they are discovered together, they will both be killed. The second Sam makes a plan to launch the first Sam back to Earth in the helium delivery vessel, activating another clone to take the first Sam's place in the damaged rover. Prior to enacting their plan, the first Sam, realising that he is near death, insists that the second Sam escape whilst he returns to the rover to die. To cover up the second Sam's existence, GERTY permits Sam to wipe his memory and reboot him. After reprogramming one helium harvester to crash into the jammers, the second Sam launches his escape, which the first Sam sees in his final moments. With the jammer disabled, the base computer finally registers that a live up-link has been established. As the second Sam approaches Earth, voice-overs in different languages begin detailing the clone Sam Bell's evidence and Lunar Industries executives' arraignment on crimes against humanity.
- Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell
- Kevin Spacey as GERTY (voice)
- Robin Chalk as younger Sam
- Dominique McElligott as Tess Bell
- Kaya Scodelario as Eve Bell
- Benedict Wong as Thompson
- Matt Berry as Overmeyers
- Malcolm Stewart as The Technician
Moon is the first feature film directed by commercial director Duncan Jones, who co-wrote the script with Nathan Parker. The film was specifically written as a vehicle for actor Sam Rockwell. The film pays homage to the films of Jones's youth, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Silent Running (1972), Solaris (1972), Alien (1979) and Outland (1981). Jones described the intent, "[We] wanted to create something which felt comfortable within that canon of those science fiction films from the sort of late seventies to early eighties." The director spoke of his interest in the lunar setting, "For me, the Moon has this weird mythic nature to it... There is still a mystery to it. As a location, it bridges the gap between science-fiction and science fact. We (humankind) have been there. It is something so close and so plausible and yet at the same time, we really don't know that much about it." The director described the lack of romance in the Moon as a location, citing images from the Japanese lunar orbiter SELENE, "It's the desolation and emptiness of it... it looks like some strange ball of clay in blackness... Look at photos and you'll think that they're monochrome. In fact, they're not. There simply are no primary colours." Jones referenced the photography book Full Moon by Michael Light in designing the look of the film.
Moon's budget was $5 million. The director took steps to minimise production costs, such as keeping the cast small and filming in a studio. Moon was produced at Shepperton Studios, London, England, where it filmed for 33 days. Jones preferred using models instead of digital animation. Jones worked with Bill Pearson, the supervising model maker on Alien, to help design the lunar rovers and helium-3 harvesters in the film. The moon base was created as a full 360-degree set, being 85–90 feet (26–27 m) long and approximately 70 feet (21 m) wide. The film's robot, GERTY, was designed to be bound to a rail within the base since the tether was critical storywise. The visual effects were provided by Cinesite, who sought cut-price deals with independent films. Since Jones had an effects background with commercials, he drew on his past experiences in creating effects under a small budget.
Jones is planning a follow-up film, which will serve as an epilogue to Moon. "Sam has agreed to do a little cameo in the next film," says Jones, who ultimately hopes to complete a trilogy of films set in the same fictional universe.
Release and reception
The sales company Independent is handling international sales for Moon. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group acquired distribution rights to the film for English-speaking territories. Moon premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in January 2009. Sony Pictures Classics commercially distributed the film in the United States, beginning with screenings in selected theatres in New York and Los Angeles on 12 June. The film's British premiere was held on 20 June 2009 at the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh as part of the 63rd Edinburgh International Film Festival. Jones was present at the screening along with other key crew members. The full UK release was on 17 July. The Australian release was on 8 October.
Reception from critics
The film currently holds an 89% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 156 reviews. Moon received positive reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. Damon Wise of The Times praised Jones's "thoughtful" direction and Rockwell's "poignant" performance. Wise wrote of the film's approach to the science fiction genre, "Though it uses impressive sci-fi trappings to tell its story—the fabulous models and moonscapes are recognisably retro yet surprisingly real—this is a film about what it means, and takes, to be human." Duane Byrge of The Hollywood Reporter applauded screenwriter Nathan Parker's "sharp [and] individualistic" dialogue and how Parker combined science fiction and Big Brother themes. Byrge also believed that cinematographer Gary Shaw's work and composer Clint Mansell's music intensified the drama. Byrge wrote, "Nonetheless, 'Moon' is darkened by its own excellencies: The white, claustrophobic look is apt and moody, but a lack of physical action enervates the story thrust." The critic felt mixed about the star's performance, describing him as "adept at limning his character's dissolution" but finding that he did not have "the audacious, dominant edge" for the major confrontation at the end of the film.
Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars out of 4, saying, "'Moon' is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science-fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind of or other, including digital. John W. Campbell Jr., the godfather of this genre, would have approved. The movie is really all about ideas. It only seems to be about emotions. How real are our emotions, anyway? How real are we? Someday I will die."
Reception from the scientific community
Moon was screened at NASA's Space Center Houston at the request of a professor there. The screening was part of a lecture series. "He'd been reading online that we'd done this film about Helium-3 mining and that's something that people at NASA are working on," says Jones. "We did a Q&A afterward. They asked me why the base looked so sturdy, like a bunker, and not like the kind of stuff they are designing that they are going to transport with them. I said 'Well, in the future I assume you won't want to continue carrying everything with you, you'll want to use the resources on the moon to build things' and a woman in the audience raised her hand and said, 'I'm actually working on something called Mooncrete, which is concrete that mixes lunar regolith and ice water from the moon's polar caps.'"
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