Two cinematic experiences about extreme wealth inequality are worth seeing, one dramatic and the other documentary.
I recently saw the Hollywood blockbuster film Elysium, directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9) and starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in 2154, degraded by ecological disasters and extreme inequalities of wealth.
In the film, the super-rich have relocated to the ultimate gated community, a pristine orbital station called “Elysium,” which is based onlocation shots from Malibu, Calif., and replete with turquoise swimming pools and palatial mansions. On Elysium, all physical illnesses are instantly cured by climbing into a “med-bay,” a contraption that looks like a designer MRI machine. As a result, life expectancy is three time longer on Elysium than on earth.
Which brings us to the film’s scenes of earth, which were filmed in a populated garbage dump in Mexico City. There, people dream of getting to Elysium to cure their cancers and other illnesses. Max DeCosta, played by Matt Damon, is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation and his only chance of survival is to get to Elysium. In his quest to get to Elysium, he becomes an unwitting hero.