The Brilliant Movie Moon Unpacked and Discussed

The Brilliant Movie Moon Unpacked and Discussed - because it could be the most brilliant polemic against human working conditions ever. IMDB
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Yes, I am late to this game. No, I was not late to watching this movie. I highly doubt you beat me to it when it initially launched. And I regaled in the splendor that was the Moon. I danced in its goodness and told everyone I could, to see it, to love it like I did. But, as far as adding it to my write-up pile here, it just slipped through the cracks. Sometimes that happens. But it doesn’t diminish the brilliance of the movies I miss. For example, the movie Enemy is one of the best movies I’ve written up here – but I missed out on writing it up for several years. Or, better yet, the movie Donnie Darko, which I have yet to do a write-up for. So yes, we find ourselves here, now, talking about one of the greatest little Indie films ever…on the ten year anniversary of its release. You can’t win them all.

But if you haven’t seen the movie Moon, with Sam Rockwell, and Sam Rockwell, and Sam Rockwell (oh, and the voice of Kevin Spacey – which, is a bit of a drag after recent events. Maybe I should release my own re-dubbed version with my own voice in the role of GERTY, giving it an All the Money in the World spin. Never mind the fact that there is no way I could compete with Spacey in the role. But wow, have I digressed.), then maybe you should stop a moment, and click on this link, and watch it, pronto. Definitely a worthwhile watch. But, whatever you do, don’t continue on in this post, as I will dive deep into the inner workings of the movie.

Moon Movie Deep Dive

In an unspecified near future state, various lunar mining industries have created a fortune from mining the moon’s surface. The earth has had an oil catastrophe, with the entire market nosing over and the earth nearing the brink of catastrophe as a result. But the moon’s helium-3 resources, mined from the soil, is a miner’s delight. And, in this near future, Lunar Industries have created a nearly fully automated mining operation on the moon, requiring the assistance of only one human operator…Sam Bell, to keep the operations running.

Sam Bell, happens to be nearly finished with his three-year stint that his contract has stipulated. And during his three years on the moon, the communication systems have been widely down, and ineffective, rendering real time discussions with his wife and their newborn impossible. His only real conversations coming from an AI assistant named GERTY. GERTY helps Sam with most of the mining operations, and also works to keep Sam comfortable, and sane, in his extreme isolation.

Just a couple weeks before Sam’s three-year contract is up, and he is finally due to return to his wife and young daughter, Sam begins having visions of a teenage girl and a bearded man. While out in his lunar rover, he had another hallucination, which causes him to crash his rover, trapping himself inside. Later, Sam wakes in the infirmary. But immediately he is suspicious of how he arrived in the infirmary and what else might be going on. And when he witnesses GERTY having a real-time conversation with the Lunar Technologies management, his suspicions go into red alert mode. But GERTY insists nothing is awry, and that a rescue group will arrive at the moon to help with the lunar rover soon. Sam then manufactures a reason to go out to the rover…where he discovers…an exact doppelgänger of himself. And, for reasons that will later become clear, I will refer to the Sam who crashed in the rover, as Sam5. And the Sam who awakened in the infirmary as Sam6. And likewise, the Sam in the incubator, later in the story, Sam7. And soon after, GERTY reveals that both Sam5 and Sam6 are both clones of the original Sam Bell, or Sam Prime, or, better yet, Sam0. Surprise, surprise – GERTY informed the Sam’s that he had activated the newest clone, Sam6, after the rover crash occurred. Not only that, but GERTY, lied to Sam6, and told him that he had just arrived on the moon. That he had just started his three- year contract. Which, of course, was a lie. OK? Simple enough. But where this gets ultra-ethically-hairy, is that Sam6‘s memories…the memories of his “wife” and his “daughter,” well, they have all been implanted. They are not real. Well, not for all of Sam’s clones anyway.

But Wait – What Is Happening Here?

Soon, after the two doppelgängers join forces, they find out that A) there is a communication jamming station keeping them from contacting earth sans supervision, and B) they discover an enormous holding tank of Sam clones, ready and waiting to be invoked. But what does this all add up to? Apparently, Lunar Industries must be immorally circumventing Intergalactic and lunar union laws by utilizing clones for the simple purpose of avoiding astronaut training and transportation costs. And in order to keep this fact a secret from the Sam’s as well as from exterior prying eyes, they are jamming all communications into and out of their lunar base. What’s worse, is that instead of jettisoning the clones back to earth as they finish their service, instead, they are incinerated, in order to keep their deceptions secret. I mean, it wouldn’t do to have hundreds of Sam’s arriving on earth, looking for their lost life. Like, at all.

So, attempting to get past this communication black out, Sam5 drives out beyond the jammers and makes a call. He’s attempting to get in contact with his “wife,” Tess. But instead, he gets in contact with Eve, who now happens to be – drumroll please – 15 years old. (Which, is how I’ve come to the Sam5, Sam6, and Sam7 naming convention. You know, three year stints, 15 years, you get the idea.) Better yet, he also learns that Tess, his supposed wife, is dead…that she had “died some years ago.” GAH! Shock! Simultaneously, Sam6 learns, through the various mission logs, that eventually, all four previous Sam’s began getting sick, and began to break down at the three year mark. So apparently, they were all bio-mechanically engineered with an expiration date in order to stop functioning when their stint is done. It was yet another safeguard to protect the corporation from legal (and moral) blow-back. And now, the two Sam’s come to the conclusion simultaneously that the team coming to help out with the rover crash wouldn’t be a helpful group of individuals. That this was going to be a cleanup crew on the level of The Wolf from Pulp Fiction…when they were done, it would be antiseptically clean, and anyone living who could tell the tale, would soon be dead. And with that realization, Sam6 convinces GERTY to awaken a new Sam (Sam7) who he hauls out to the lunar rover. Sam6 would then send Sam5 back to earth. But when Sam5 learns he’s basically dead, he convinces Sam6 to put him back in the rover to die, and for Sam6 to launch back to earth instead. Before Sam6 leaves, he programs a harvester to crash into one of the communication jamming stations, which then allows for free communications for future Sam units. Sam6 also takes a canister of helium-3 to earth to fund his final three years of life on earth. And when The Wolf, pardon me, the rescue team arrives, they are successfully foiled because of GERTY’s wiping of his logs and the new Sam unit found just awakened. As the credits roll – we hear reports about Sam6‘s testimony against Lunar Industries’ activities on the moon. Their unethical behavior crashes the company’s stock as investigations begin into what they have been up to.

Theories To Explain the Movie Moon

I’ve sat back and had a good think after finishing my latest re-watch of the movie Moon. After watching it the first time, I literally thought there was answer to the movie Moon. One explanation that could possibly clarify what its larger point might be. But since then, I am less certain. (10 years ago was a long time ago after all.)

A Mary Shelley Explanation for Moon

The other day, when I reviewed the movie Replicas, with Keanu Reeves, (which is not too dissimilar to this movie in form, if not in function), and one of the theories I put forward was that it was a modern day investigation of the horrors of medical advancement and technology. Maybe the Moon is talking about this as well? Could it be that the point of Moon is to question our pushing of the medical technology envelope, and the horrors that can happen as a result?

Moon is an Investigation into Identity

Duncan Jones, after finishing Moon, went on to create another movie that was entitled Mute. And many have linked Moon and Mute to almost sequel status. So much so, there is a scene in Mute that indicates that all of the hundreds of Sam Bells have been awakened, and the court battle of the century is being waged about Lunar Technologies and what it is that they have done. Better yet, there is a Sam Bell working for the prosecution, as well as for the defense. The question here seems to be, once Pandora’s Box is opened, how do we grapple with these technological atrocities? How do we affix or ascertain identity after the 152 Sam’s are released from their cryogenic containers?

As the movie continues on, the fleet of foot will realize that the original Sam Bell (the only one with a beard and looking a bit older) is speaking out on behalf of the rights of the clones in their position against Lunar Technologies. With one news broadcast indicating that “the 156 face their maker – Lunar Industries ex-employees quested by panel in presence of score of clones.”

But think about this movie from the 74th Sam’s perspective. He wakes to this world, with passionate feelings of love for a wife, Tess, and a child, Eve, and a strong desire to return to them. He learns quickly by lawyers and anti-cloning advocacy groups, that these memories are false. That even his DNA and medical makeup are all literal copies of another man. Is 74 distinct? Does he have rights? Is he a soul with legitimate concerns and feelings? Is he legitimate the moment he awakens because he immediately begins creating new memories and new thoughts? Or was he legitimate while asleep in this hibernative state? I literally have no idea how to answer any of the questions I just asked. None! hahah. But maybe that is what the movie is all about?

Corporate Espionage and Human Rights Abuse

Let’s leave the land of science fiction for a moment, and consider a fairly down to earth company almost every American used just this week I’m betting. Amazon. Personally, I have ordered three things from them this week. But there are numerous investigative journalistic pieces – piece after piece after piece after piece, that tells about the horrific working conditions that happen inside of Amazon’s warehouses. And after reading all of them, and considering what it would be like to work for Amazon, it seems obvious that if Amazon could turn its employees into robots, it would have. And maybe it’s literally this situation that the movie Moon is talking all about.

It’s fairly shocking to me to see just how immoral large corporations become when they get the stench of money caught in their nostrils. Humans become cogs. And when cogs get worn out, they are easily replaced. During one trip I made to Manila, I spent several days with a family that worked at three different backpack factories. The father worked during the day inside a factory. The mother worked at home doing take-home work from another factory. And when the father got home at night, they worked for another assembly company doing zippers for a different backpack all together. It literally blew my mind to see the work this family did just to stay alive. Which brings me to this:

So when we watch a fictionalized cinematic story of a big, bad, company, called Lunar Industries, that had been using cloned labor on the moon for the past fifteen years, we all stop and think…no way. That would NEVER happen here on earth. Hahahah. Are you kidding me? The only thing keeping rich factory owners from doing that exact thing today is just the viable technology to do it with. But what does that say about us today? Well, maybe that we care more about profits than we do about people?

A Final Thought on Moon

Most times, when I pitch you a couple of different theories that investigate was to understand a movie I have one main theory and then I prop up two or three other theories around it in order to make it seem like you have options to pick from. (Yes, disappointing, I know.) But with Moon, I personally believe that none of these theories are incorrect. We have a Shelley connection that is obvious, and daunting, which details out the horrors of medical technologies run amok. We have problems of identity, and souls, that become instantly entangled in this world. And finally we have corporate greed taking advantage of it all. They all work in tandem together here to create a very complicated story.

Overall, I don’t think that the movie Moon is too far off the mark of how we treat our employees and the citizens of the earth today. Clones, cogs, levers to push and pull as we like, without consideration for their identities or the effects of this abuse on our culture and our world. And I do believe that it would be worth our while to take a closer look at this frightening tendency in ourselves before we start to hear shocking headlines, like the ones in the movie Mute, hit the news in our very real world.

But that’s just me spitballing. What do you think the movie Moon is all about?

Edited by, CY

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