Sam (Sam Rockwell) is a Lunar Industries employee who has signed a three-year contract to oversee automated operations on the moon base Sarang. His job consists of collecting full canisters of helium-3 from robotic harvesters and sending them to Earth, where clean fusion energy has replaced fuel as the main source of power. With only a mechanized assistant called GERTY for company, Sam maintains a regular routine, counting down the days until he sees his family again. However, things change when an accident occurs and he finds someone out there, the one person he would have never expected—himself.
Co-writer and director Duncan Jones deserves praise for this stunning debut, which—as Joachim Boaz warned me—far exceeds the merits of his other film Source Code. While both involve thought-provoking science fiction, Moon (among other achievements) attains greater success in the creation of a singular effect on its viewer. I went to bed that night feeling sorrowful and deeply moved. It’s also worth noting the director’s aptitude in crafting a story about immense solitude and intuitively situating it on the moon, which carries with it simultaneous associations of fascination and alienation. On the one hand, it’s new terrain—exotic and unfamiliar. On the other, it represents the furthest possible distance between one man and others (in this case, also himself).
Moon is a prime example of the kind of science fiction that asks the terrible questions. What does it mean to be human? What differentiates us from highly intelligent machines like GERTY, one that can express a limited range of emotions and even make decisions on its own? In a world where both are manufactured, rebooted, and disposed of as needed, where do we draw the line? This film forewarns of a plausible (and in some ways already palpable) future based on dehumanization, where our perception of man draws from mere practicality, where a person is reduced to a commodity, of which hundreds of similar stocks may be produced; most cruelly of all, where an individual is permanently deceived in regard to his own identity. In the most painful of ironies, Sam is reduced to asking questions about his existence to a machine.
A highly satisfying movie, Moon convinces, compels, and assaults with a poignancy human enough to disturb an emotional core. It is a film I am grateful to have watched, and one I passionately recommend.
‘GERTY, we’re not programmed. We’re people, you understand?’