American movie star Matt Damon has told the British national broadcaster The BBC that his new film, Elysium, is a metaphor for immigration. Mr Damon was speaking to the BBC television's Breakfast programme.
Elysium is directed by Neill Blomkamp. Mr Blomkamp was born in South Africa but emigrated at the age of 18 to Vancouver on the west coast of Canada. Damon told BBC interviewer Susannah Reid, 'The director didn't want to make a 'message movie [but] he said to me "Look, I grew up in South Africa. I emigrated to Vancouver when I was 18 years' old. The experience of moving from a third world country to a first world country so completely shattered me that, throughout my adult life, I have been expressing that in the films I make."'
Elysium has been controversial in the US since its release. It has been accused by Republican commentators of being a 'socialist' film and Damon has been attacked for being less than frank when he says that the film is not trying to impart a message.
'This is today. This is now'Indeed, even the film's writer/director seems to believe that the film has a political message. Neill Blomkamp told UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph '"People have asked me if I think this is what will happen in 140 years, but this isn't science fiction. This is today. This is now'
The film, which was written and directed by Blomkamp, is set in 2154. The earth's population lives in a poor, hungry and violent world except for the super-rich who now live on a luxurious space station known as Elysium (the name for paradise in Greek mythology).
The film's plot follows the efforts of a group of 'illegal immigrants', including Max, played by Damon, as they attempt to reach Elysium. Damon and his allies are confronted by the Elysian secretary of defence, played by American actress Jodie Foster, who is prepared to use any means necessary to stop them.
Tijuana trip inspired filmMr Blomkamp also told Telegraph writer John Hiscock that he had been inspired to write the film by an experience he had in the Mexican border town of Tijuana. He told Mr Hiscock how he had been arrested by police in Mexico while drinking beer in the street, unaware that this was against the law. He and his friend had been driven away from the tourist area by the police.
He explained how he and his friend had given the policemen all their money and had eventually been released. By now, they were in 'a poverty-stricken area with fires and feral dogs' from where they had to walk back to the US border.
Blomkamp recounted how he could see the border which was patrolled by high-tech black hawk helicopters as they walked through the poverty of the Tijuana slums. He recounts 'it was the most insane feeling I've ever had in my life'.
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