Neill Blomkamp’s much anticipated sci-fi adventure Elysium was set in a dystopian future Earth bled dry of life by man’s wayward greed. The rich folks have gone off to Elysium, a space station and home resort for the wealthy in a naked vision of the haves and have-nots and of course, a brilliant opportunity to have some artistic fun. Future contrasting worlds, fomenting disorder and tense, preoccupied superiority and an ever present potential for uprising, the film’s look is stunning.
Matt Damon is a work of art. As a warrior outfitted with gear embedded into his body and head, he is a walking arsenal, with the ferocity of a robot and yet human and dying of radiation poisoning. His shaven head is the power point for the gizmos attached to him. It’s a chilling and thoroughly unique look.
Jodie Foster, a high ranking authority on Elysium looks like a machine, kitted out in glossy silver, hard constructed suits, with severely clipped hair and makeup. She’s ambitious and without feeling. Her look says it all. Even Foster’s finely chiseled facial features mimic her edgy film persona.
Weta Workshop, which provided the artwork for District 9, Blomkamp’s original sci-fi feature, and futurist Syd Mead gave the film its unique look and feel, which mirrored the two worlds and the drama that unfolds. Earth is a brown wasteland littered with broken things and stashed with weaponry, much of it homemade. Elysium is a beautiful, soothing place of gardens, pleasing architecture and design and lots of flowers. The sharp edges of Elysium’s designs betray the repression of the artificial paradise and its political corruption.
Elysium: The Art of the Film is crammed with hundreds of pieces of production art – including blueprints for the spacecraft and weaponry, Elysium and the physical gear worn by the various levels of security that haunt the film like a dark cloud. Meticulous drawings show the imagination and real world knowledge of the artists. The Parole Officer, an ancient metal dummy, sits at the service desk of the parole board. He looks friendly in a benign way but his speech reflects the Big Brother mentality of Earth’s handlers.
A den of thieves on Earth hole up in a shanty which is clearly on its last legs like everything else on Earth. It’s filled with all manner of guns, graffiti and garbage, peopled by heavily tattooed and pierced individuals who make money from the misery of Earth dwellers trying to escape to Elysium. Meanwhile on Elysium, beautifully dressed folks attend a constant round of cocktail parties in sunlit gardens outside beautifully maintained architectural gems. It’s a constant source of visual stimulation.
Blomkamp says there are three thousand distinct pieces of concept art in the film enough to “engulf” the viewer and give intense authenticity to it. Elysium: The Art of the Movie brings it all together for film, art and sci-fi fans. What an amazing visual journey!
Elysium: The Art of the Film is available now from Titan Books.