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Moon 2009



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250,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to face... is yourself.

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About the Moon 💬

  • The last place you'd ever expect to find yourself.

It is the near future. Astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is living on the far side of the moon, completing a three-year contract with Lunar Industries to mine Earth's primary source of energy, Helium-3. It is a lonely job, made harder by a broken satellite that allows no live communications home. Taped messages are all Sam can send and receive.

Thankfully, his time on the moon is nearly over, and Sam will be reunited with his wife, Tess (Dominique McElligott), and their three-year-old daughter, Eve, in only a few short weeks. Finally, he will leave the isolation of ''Sarang,'' the moon base that has been his home for so long, and he will finally have someone to talk to beyond ''Gerty,'' the base's well-intentioned, but the rather uncomplicated computer.

Suddenly, Sam's health starts to deteriorate. Painful headaches, hallucinations and a lack of focus lead to an almost fatal accident on a routine drive on the moon in a lunar rover. While recuperating back at the base (with no memory of how he got there), Sam meets a younger, angrier version of himself, who claims to be there to fulfill the same three-year contract Sam started all those years ago.

Confined with what appears to be a clone of his earlier self, and with a ''support crew'' on its way to help put the base back into productive order, Sam is fighting the clock to discover what's going on and where he fits into company plans.

MOON is a story full of paradoxes. It's an intimate character portrayal in a starkly impersonal outer-space setting; a three-man drama with just a single actor visible onscreen; and a futuristic vision that harkens back to classic sci-fi, but also looks a lot like the utilitarian heavy industry as we know it.


I have always been a fan of science fiction films. In my mind, the golden age of SF cinema was the '70s, early '80s, when films like Silent Running, Alien, Blade Runner and Outland told human stories in future environments. I've always wanted to make a film that felt like it could fit into that canon.

There are unquestionably less of those kinds of sci-fi films these days. I don't know why. I have a theory though: I think over the last couple of decades filmmakers have allowed themselves to become a bit embarrassed by SF's philosophical side. It's OK to ''geek out'' at the cool effects and ''oooh'' and ''ahh'' at amazing vistas, but we're never supposed to take it too seriously. We've allowed ourselves to be convinced that SF should be frivolous, for teenage boys. We're told that the old films, the Outlands and Silent Runnings, were too plaintive, too whiney.

I think that's ridiculous. People who appreciate science fiction want the best for the world, but they understand that there is an education to be had by investigating the worst of what might happen. That’s why Blade Runner was so brilliant; it used the future to make us look at basic human qualities from a fresh perspective. Empathy. Humanity. How do you define these things? I wanted to address those questions.

Quite a few years ago I read Entering Space by the renowned astronautical engineer, Robert Zubrin. Zubrin put forward a wholly scientific and engaging case for why and how humanity should be colonizing our solar system. It was a nuts-and-bolts approach to space exploration, and took into account the fiscal appetites that would make space colonization attractive in our capitalist world. One of the first steps recommended was to set up a ''shake-and-bake'' Helium-3 mining facility on the moon to extract fuel for fusion-powered generators.

The book made a real impression on me. I couldn't help thinking that that first step into space habitation, a step that would be made for profit rather than purely scientific reasons, was a fascinating conflict of interests. Companies by their very nature would seek to extract the maximum amount of raw materials from any endeavor, for a minimum outlay of costs. That's just good business. But without any locals, without human rights groups or oversight to keep an eye on things, what might a company try to get away with? What might even the most benign, ''green'' corporation be willing to do? What would they do to alone, blue-collar caretaker on a base on the far side of the Moon?

These are some of the basic ideas that informed the science fiction setting of MOON, but this belies the root of the film; its human element. MOON is about alienation; it's about how we anthropomorphize technology; it's about the paranoia that strikes you when you are in a long distance relationship; and it's about learning to accept yourself. A lot to take on for a little indie film, but maybe that was the best place to try. It is ''only science fiction'' after all.

Duncan Jones


About Helium-3

Though MOON is a work of fiction, the hard science depicted in the film is rooted in fact. Helium-3 (HE-3), the substance that the film's lunar mining operation is harvesting, is a light, non-radioactive isotope of Helium. He-3 has been identified as an essential ingredient for nuclear fusion, a still-unproven process that could potentially generate vast amounts of clean energy to supply the Earth's energy needs. Unlike the process of nuclear fission, used in nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants, nuclear fusion would create no radioactive waste. In nuclear fission, energy is released when an atom's nucleus is split. In nuclear fusion, multiple atomic nuclei bearing the same valence charge would be fused together, creating a release of energy. Researchers are currently using He-3 in their efforts to generate a controlled nuclear fusion reaction.

He-3 on Earth

Helium-3 occurs very rarely as a natural deposit in the Earth's crust. He-3 is also produced in minute quantities as a byproduct of the decay of tritium, a material that accumulates in nuclear fission processes. Scientists have acquired some He-3 for fusion research by dismantling nuclear warheads, but it would be impossible to amass or manufacture enough He-3 by known methods on Earth to adequately fuel nuclear fusion plants of the future.

He-3 on the Moon

On our moon, however, He-3 occurs in far greater abundance as a deposit laid down in the lunar soil, or regolith, by solar winds (our sun is a vast fusion reactor). Lunar rock and regolith samples brought back to Earth by Apollo missions revealed He-3 in small but significant concentrations. To extract the lunar He-3, massive amounts of regolith would be scraped up and superheated. The He-3 extracted would be refined to a highly concentrated ''superliquid'' (the 1996 and 2003 Nobel Prizes in Physics were awarded to scientists who identified and study this superliquid occurrence of He-3). The concentrated He-3 would have to be transported back to Earth for use as a nuclear fusion fuel; it is estimated that a single Space Shuttle payload could supply the United States' energy needs at current consumption for a year (assuming, of course, that we figure out how to create a nuclear fusion reaction in a controlled environment). It is quite conceivable that advances in fusion technology could abruptly make the moon's He-3 a vastly valuable resource, setting off a new space race to capture and control the lunar He-3 supply.

He-3 Mining in MOON

In MOON, He-3 resource extraction is owned and managed by the private corporate enterprise. MOON depicts huge, automated harvesters scraping the moon's surface; inside the big beasts, the lunar soil is heated and processed, and the extracted He-3 is refined. Sam Bell’s job, in addition to maintaining the station and mining equipment, is to collect the canisters of concentrated He-3 extract and launch them back to Earth in rocket-propelled capsules - which eventually becomes the means of his own escape from his preordained fate on the moon.

Moon Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Duncan Jones

Writing Credits

Nathan Parker (Written by)

Duncan Jones (Story)


Sam Rockwell

Dominique McElligott

Kaya Scodelario

Rosie Shaw

Benedict Wong

Matt Berry

Malcolm Stewart

Kevin Spacey (voice)

Music by

Clint Mansell

Cinematography by

Gary Shaw

Category: EEBAFTAs, BAFTA Award Winner

Genres: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi (Science Fiction)

Country: United Kingdom

Moon Official Trailer

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