Dystopian Elysium is about the 99%

We still don’t have a public trailer for Neill Blomkamp’s new sci-fi thriller Elysium, but lucky Comic-Con attendees were treated to seven minutes of unfinished footage.

Blomkamp was on hand in San Diego to talk to audiences at the show about Elysium, a production for which very few details have since been released, but remains highly anticipated, perhaps owing to the director’s previous hit film District 9.

The basic premise? Sometime in the future, the class divide of the 1% grows so intense that the richest of the rich decide to build their own colony in space – Elysium – where poor people are not allowed to live. The colony offers free health-care, and life is perfect for everyone, while back on earth, everyone else is being left to rot in their own filth.

In 2159, years after the establishment of Elysium, Matt Damon’s character suffers radiation poisoning at a work accident.

His robotic masters tell him he will be dead in five-days, as there is no treatment available on Earth. Knowing that even something as deadly as radiation poisoning can be cured at the mere push of a button up on Elysium, he hatches a plan to steal the identity of an Elysium resident, so he can get into the colony and be saved.

Once he has the identity, however, he finds that there is more to this particular Elysium citizen than he thought, and he becomes embroiled in a complex espionage plot.

The themes of class divide in the film will be very strong, and one expects it from Bloomkamp, considering that his last film, District 9, was basically a feature-length allegory for apartheid. The director admitted as much to the panel, saying, “These topics are massively interesting to me and probably part of that comes from growing up in South Africa. Elysium has elements that are more important than just a film with explosions.”

The show included a reel which condensed the story to 7 minutes, and features lots of unfinished space-ships and such. To save money, the Earth scenes were shot on top of the second largest garbage dump in the world, in Mexico City. The actors had plenty of funny – and gross – anecdotes from the filming, including getting covered head-toe in ‘fecal dust’, and one of the stunt-men landing in a pool of pig urine.

In response to audience questions, Bloomkamp revealed that the space station in the film is not fantasy, “It’s like an inner tube of a tire,” he said. “Civilization lives on the inner side. It’s a real, scientific thing that could theoretically be built. It would just take a hell of a lot of money.”

Elysium hits theaters March 1st, 2013.