EIFF 2009 - Moon
Space is the place
Duncan Jones’ debut has the hallmarks of an instant sci-fi classic. Miles Fielder takes a look at Moon
When Duncan Jones, aka Zowie Bowie, David’s son, premiered his film-directing debut, Moon, at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the critical reception to his cerebral science fiction thriller was ecstatic. Reviewers wasted no time in comparing Moon to genre masterpieces such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and, although Jones himself cites the 1972 eco-sci-fi flick Silent Running as his main inspiration, his film does indeed warrant comparison to Kubrick’s classic with its deliberate pacing and ominous tone, not to say eerie use of lunar locations.
Set in the near future, Moon stars Sam Rockwell (in a celebrated virtually solo performance) as an astronaut named Sam Bell who’s coming to the end of his solitary three-year mission on the dark side of the moon, where he’s been mining helium to send back home to an earth suffering from an energy crisis. Sam’s only companion is a talking computer named GERTY (Kevin Spacey in a great piece of voice casting), until, that is, an almost fatal lunar drive precipitates hallucinations and partial amnesia and Sam starts to wonder if someone or something is interfering with his mission.
Jones, whose day job has until now been directing commercials for French Connection and the like, co-wrote the film’s complex screenplay with Nathan Parker, and he shot it at Shepperton Studios outside London in just 33 days during the recent Hollywood writers’ strike. As a result, Jones says, he was able to secure the services not only of a pair of A-list American actors but also of some of the industry’s top special effects technicians, who created the lunar world inhabited by Sam using old school model work rather than the now commonplace CGI, all for a relatively tiny $5 million budget.
If Moon is a box office success, Hollywood will come calling on its maker’s services. And no doubt it will offer him a much larger budget second time around.
In fact, Jones already has plans to make a second film, another sci-fi adventure, he says, which will be in a more commercial vein and will be a homage to another classic, Blade Runner.
Moon, Cameo, Sat 20 Jun, 9pm; Tue 23 Jun, 9.15pm, £8.50 (£7.50).