Perhaps because I’m lonely and have always been lonely, after watching this science-fiction movie, starring Sam Rockwell, I was deeply affected by the philosophical repercussions this movie raised — one of which is the threat of cloning and the obliteration of the value of human beings, and another, more abstract, the meaning of meaning and life in extreme isolation. What are we if not for the certainty of family, our history, our social networks and our communities?
I’ve never been a big fan of sci-fi, mostly because what you call sci-fi in the last decade or so is really just special effects and glorified grown-up cartoons (read: Transformers and Star Wars). This movie is a throwback to those deservedly forward-looking sci-fi films, such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, which not only explored fantastical, futuristic themes, but always sounded back to humanity and the problems in contemporary society. Moon has little of the flashy cinematography of those greats, but is grounded in realism, a tight plot, great acting, directing and editing, resulting in a movie that prods you to think — albeit with a thumping heart — throughout its 97 minutes of brilliance.
Sam Rockwell is just wonderful and believable as Sam Bell, a man who discovers after an accident on space that he’s really one of many clones of the original Bell. Frankly, I was initially sceptical of picking this movie up, fearing either a boring documentary-like moon “adventure” or one littered with special effects. This movie is neither, I’m glad to say. But it frightens you, because imagine if one day, you realise that everything you know to be real, to be true, are actually memory implants from a man who looks like you, thinks like you, walks like you, but they are not real. The thought of it freaked me out. Bell clones have a “contract” of 3 years, meaning they only last 3 years, much like the shelf life of a mobile phone. Each is planted with memories to make him believe that he signed up for this from Earth and will return to his beautiful wife (who sends him regular video messages) and daughter once the contract is up. In reality, he will be pulverised in a coffin-like machine and the system will “awake” another clone. During those 3 years, he is always alone and his only friend is a talking robot called Gerty.
If you can clone human beings, use them, then kill them just as easily, what significance does it have for human lives? How are we different from clones — since we look the same, feel, hurt, get lonely, aspire to the same things? If we can be cloned (and killed) so easily, then it inevitably means our whole lives are worthless. Are we all victims of capitalism and are we all alienated commodities?
Even if we don’t venture too far into the future to think about androids or clones, we need only think of racism, inequality and ethnic cleansing to understand that what the movie is proposing is not too far from the truth. There is enough stupidity, ignorance and intolerance in our world to make problems such as these entirely sustainable, rather than to find a way to rid us of bigotism, racism and genocide. What makes one group of people superior to another? How do we stop mindless bloodshed?
The film also forced me to think of my own existence and how it’s related to my memories and my past and other people. Is that why it’s so tough to be alone — even if some of us claim to like it? If we don’t live in the present with other people, are we real? Are our online relationships with people real if there is no “human touch”? I don’t know, and sometimes, it’s depressing to find out how insignificant our lives are.