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File:Moonposter.jpg

Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) is an employee contracted by the Korean-based company Lunar Industries to extract helium-3 from lunar soil to fuel nuclear fusion reactors on Earth. He is stationed for a three-year term on the Sarang base, with only a robot named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) for company, and his only contact with Earth being recorded transmissions he occasionally receives from his wife and three-year-old daughter. Two weeks before completing his assignment, he begins to hallucinate, causing him to crash a lunar rover into one of the helium-3 harvesters.

Then it gets worse.

The first feature film directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie's son), Moon was shown at the 2009 Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, and has received a lot of critical acclaim. It has also been praised for scientific accuracy, being screened at NASA's Space Center in Houston at the request of one of the professors there, due to its feature of helium-3 mining. Dad is reportedly very proud.

MAJOR SPOILERS follow. As the film depends heavily on twists and reveals for its impact, spoilers are unavoidable. If you want to keep your surprise (trust us: you do), watch the film first, then come back here. And don't click any of the icons on the top of the page. You Have Been Warned.

Examples:


  • Acting for Two: Obvious. And Acting For Three, in one shot.
  • AI Is a Crapshoot: Subverted excellently. The production sets up GERTY as a close cousin of HAL 9000 from 2001, and seems to be keeping a terrible secret from Sam. In the end, however, GERTY was programmed to help Sam, not protect the mining operation. When Sam begins to figure things out, GERTY helps him do that as well.
  • Artificial Gravity: Outside the base, gravity on the lunar surface is appropriately low, but inside the base it appears to be standard Earth gravity. The DVD commentary admits this was done for practical reasons.
  • Artistic License Astronomy: Mostly averted, what with it being a very hard sci-fi film. However, an early version of the film poster (such as the one on this page) carried the tagline "950,000 miles from home, the hardest thing to face... is yourself". The moon's distance from Earth varies between about 226,000 and 253,000 miles over the course of its orbit. Later posters fixed the error.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Sarang.
  • Asteroid Miners: Although the Moon is a tad bigger than the average asteroid.
  • Backup Twin: A whole warehouse of identical backup clones, in fact.
  • Big Sleep: The clones think they're being put to sleep for the trip back to Earth. Well, they're half right.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • The pre-recorded "sleep chamber" technician says "goodbye" in Korean -- but the way he says it implies that it is the speaker (the tech) who is leaving, and the listener (Sam) who is staying behind.
    • The Korean word "Sarang" is stenciled all over the base.
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: As a result of Clone Degeneration.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sam 1 dies at the end of the film, while watching Sam 2 escape back to Earth. The ending voice over implies the evil scheme is revealed, but even if the clones do end up gaining some measure of freedom, they only have three years to live.
    • Debatable. Word of God says the clones were engineered to last three years because that's how long the contract lasted; this limitation might be removed. Even if it can't, a number of years have passed since the base was established, and it is conceivable that medicine has marched on enough to make them live longer. Besides, once the whole world knows about them, more people than just an evil megacorp's R%D department would be trying to give them a new life.
  • Blood From the Mouth: Happens to Sam 1 when his body begins to break down.
  • Brain Uploading: Sort of. Sam has "memory implants"; "Uploaded, edited memories of the original Sam Bell." We're not sure what or what doesn't get uploaded though.
  • The Cake Is a Lie
  • Can You Hear Me Now: Satellite failure and the fact that he's stationed on the far side of the moon prevents real-time contact with Earth -- except that's just a cover story. Once he gets far enough away from the base, he makes a perfectly real-time video phone call.
  • Cloning Blues: What most of the movie deals with.
  • Clone Degeneration: Each clone breaks down after three years. The DVD commentary states Lunar Industries figured three years was the longest they could expect someone to "want" to work on an isolated moon base, so they designed the clones to last just that long. It leads to use of Blood From the Mouth and I'm Cold... So Cold....
  • The Computer Is Your Friend: GERTY. He subverts this, despite initial appearances to the contrary.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Lunar Industries appears to be run by them. They apparently have no moral qualms with creating a reserve army of slave labour and covering it up back on Earth.
  • Crap Saccharine World: Oil has been replaced with more sustainable renewable energy sources. Which is great if you're living on Earth, but it kind of sucks if you're the movie's main character...
  • Creepy Monotone: GERTY's voice isn't quite monotone, but it's always very mild and soothing. It's only the fact that he's a robot in a sci-fi story (and his resemblance to a certain other famous AI) makes him seem untrustworthy to the viewer.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: More or less averted. Things don't end well for Sam 1, but they weren't going to anyway.
  • Cyber Cyclops: GERTY sees the world through a HAL-esque camera lens, but he speaks to Sam through a digital smiley face that changes through a variety of simple expressions. Yields an unsettling contrast between the caricatured simplicity of his avatar and the unfathomable, expressionless eye.
  • The Danza: Sam Bell, played by Sam Rockwell. The part was written specifically for Rockwell after he expressed an interest in science fiction.
  • Deadly Euphemism: The "rescue team" and "return vehicle".
  • Deface of the Moon: We see more than one shot of the tracks the harvesters are leaving behind. They're on the far side of the moon to avoid visibly defacing the moon from an Earthbound perspective, and to avoid confusing wildlife.
  • Double Vision: The classic split screen shot, Over the Shoulder, and some fancy computer effects all get used.
  • Dying Alone: Alone, and isolated on the far side of the moon, and with the knowledge that your entire "life" is a sham. Ouch.
  • Economy Cast: To the point it borders on Minimalist Cast. The only character we really see "live" in shot is Sam -- everyone else appears on a video screen or in a flashback, or is a robot. If it wasn't for Kevin Spacey's voice acting, this would be a film starring one person.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Accidental. Practically the entire film was filmed on a moon base set which was built as a single unit and entirely closed in. This led to cast and crew feeling trapped and isolated -- exactly what the story was going for.
  • Faking the Dead: Not exactly "faking", but Sam 1 volunteers to be left in the crashed rover, so that the "rescue team" wouldn't realize Sam 2 was escaping.
  • Fan Service: We see Sam in the shower.
  • Famous Last Words:
  • Funny Background Event:
    • We get occasional brief glimpses of GERTY's back; looking closely reveals a Post-It note reading "Kick Me". Sam 2 makes a point of removing it after giving poor GERTY a forced reboot.
    • The base has readouts for four harvesters. Matt, Mark, Luke, and John, Luke, which is broken-down during the entire film, has been crossed-out and "Judas" written-in.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Both Sam and GERTY, in some form. Sam 1 sacrifices his life, and GERTY his memory, to allow Sam 2 the chance to get home.
  • Homage: According to creator Duncan Jones, he deliberately tried to recreate the feeling of old sci-fi films like 2001, Silent Running, Outland, Alien and Blade Runner.
  • Human Popsicle: This is what the "Return Vehicle" is supposed to be.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: GERTY needs to get Sam to erase his memory and reboot him.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • At the beginning of the film, Sam wears a shirt that says "Wake me when it's QUITTING TIME." It is later shown that every Sam clone is equipped with one of these shirts. The phrase itself is a pretty sick joke. Each clone will be woken up when it's "quitting time" for the previous one.
    • The use of "I Am the One and Only" as his alarm is pretty sick too. At first it's was ironic because he is literally alone on the station, but it later becomes even more ironic.
  • Irony: Of a pretty disturbing kind.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Sam #2 and GERTY. Sam #2 even tears the "Kick Me" post-it note before leaving as a sign of respect.
  • Kill and Replace: The easiest way to keep costs down, apparently. Each Sam believes he's at the beginning of his three-year contract.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: The "rescue team" is sent in to retrieve the corpse of Sam 1 from the lunar rover, and to kill Sam 2 if they think he found out about it.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Several of them. Actually, most of the score is like this, but there are a few parts that make it more prominent.
  • Marked to Die: The clones are indeed designed to die.
  • Meaningful Name: The name of the lunar base, Sarang, means "love" in Korean and "nest" in Malay.
  • Mega Corp: Lunar Industries.
  • Meta Twist: People generally spend the bulk of their first viewing of the film waiting for the twist that GERTY is evil.
  • Mind Screw: Everything seems just fine until Sam reaches for his space suit...
  • Mirror Match: Sam 1 and Sam 2 brawl several times. The effect is ... unsettling.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Futurology, level 5.5.
  • Not So Different: Sam comes to realise that he and Gerty are more similar than he first assumed.
  • The Other Darrin: Not exactly used, but the Trope Namer is referenced. At one point we see a clip of Bewitched being played, where two character are discussing Darrin. Darrin was of course... replaced.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Averted; Sam can't figure out the password to access the logs of all the past Sams until GERTY supplies it for him.
  • Peace and Love Incorporated: Sarang is the biggest supplier of clean helium-3 energy to 70% of the world. Their name is even the Korean word for "love".
  • Retirony: Sam has two weeks left before he can go home... to a wife that's dead and a baby daughter whose entire childhood he missed. And then the rover crash occurs and things get worse.
  • Ridiculously-Human Robots: Yes and no. While GERTY takes the form of a mobile entertainment center with two disembodied arms, he also appears capable of genuine human emotion, to the point of a comforting shoulder rub. He can't lie worth a damn, though he does have a "shifty eyes" emoticon to show when he's "thinking" about something.
  • Robot Buddy: GERTY plays the trope to somewhat creepy effect with his monotonous voice and suspiciously placating demeanor, but in the end he really is just there to help Sam.
  • Shown Their Work: The DVD commentary mentions several things:
    • The model-miniatures were filmed at a frame rate calculated to simulate one-sixth gravity when played back at normal speed.
    • The computer-generated dust and debris from the harvesters is likewise animated to reflect the lower gravity and lack of atmosphere.
    • They're harvesting on the far side of the moon to avoid changing the reflectivity of the Earth-facing side, which might mess-up nocturnal wildlife on Earth.
    • The base is so rugged because it was built using lunar materials. Very little of the building materials were actually flown up from Earth.
    • The rescue ship's design reflects the need to pick up harvesters for repairs.
    • Earth is visible when Sam makes his video-phone call to Earth because he had to drive the harvester around the curve of the moon to get line-of-sight for radio.
  • Simple Score of Sadness: The main theme is rather fast-paced (though still simplistic), but it slows down for the main dramatic moments.
  • Space Is Noisy: Mostly averted. Wide exterior shots on the moon are mostly silent. We do hear some noises in close-ups -- the engine noise of the rovers, rocks falling in the wake of the harvesters, hatches opening, and so on -- but this could be justified in that they have the POV of a human in a pressurized compartment.
  • Stealth Pun: Sam is the man in the moon.
  • Strawman Political: The radio Talk Show host at the end is implied to be the conservative version. The final line of the movie is, "You know what, he's one of two things. He's a wacko or an illegal immigrant -- and either way, they need to lock him up. Line two!"
  • Stock Footage: The "commercial" for Lunar Industries at the start of the film contains mostly stock footage, because the indie film production couldn't afford anything else.
  • Suicide Is Painless: Subverted in that they don't realize it's suicide.
    • Hmm... It can't really be a suicide since they don't realise that once they get on the box they will be killed.
  • Tears From a Stone: Sort of. After GERTY tells Sam the truth, his avatar becomes a sad face, and then sheds a few crudely animated tears. Important in that it's the first sign that GERTY genuinely cares about Sam.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Not quite, but Sam is very nearly spaced when the rover crashes and is depressurized. Luckily he gets his helmet on in time.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Sam starts losing his teeth (and vomiting blood) as his short-lived clone body breaks down.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer shows two Sams, though it does not provide any sort of indication of the actual plot twists. However, it's cut alongside several clear hallucinations, making it look like Sam is either trippin' balls or some sort of Solaris thing is going on.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The film takes place in the not-too-distant future in which 70% of the world's energy is generated by fusion mined from lunar helium-3. We've also got the technology to mass-produce clones with three-year lifespans and memories inserted from another person.
  • Unobtainium: Helium-3, which is actually abundant in the lunar regolith and is considered a plausible energy source.
  • Used Future: GERTY and the mining equipment.
  • Vader Breath: Heard at times when Sam is in his spacesuit/rover.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Of the Blood From the Mouth kind. Yes, that's a tooth.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Most of the film involves Sam's quest to figure out who he really is and where he came from.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Sam is essentially a biological robot that is mass-produced and disposed of when each model is no longer useful.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: The four harvesters are named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Inverted, since screenwriter Nathan Parker insists it really wasn't symbolic; he just needed four names and the Evangelists came to mind. If he'd thought a little longer, he could just as easily have called them John, Paul, George and Ringo.
  • Which Me?: Sometimes happens in Real Life analysis of the movie, as Sam 1 and Sam 2 are actually the fifth and sixth clones to be revived. Earlier drafts of the script actually called them "Sam 5" and "Sam 6", but the filmmakers switched to "Sam 1" and "Sam 2" to make things clearer. And either way, "Sam 1" is still a clone; there's a regular human who came first, called "Original Sam" by the filmmakers.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Played straight, subverted, averted... call it Deconstructed Trope. All of the Sams are on the far side of the moon and desperately want to return home to wife and daughter. Sam 1 (and his predecessor clones) never make it. Sam 2 (and maybe his successor clones) do, but their lives are a lie -- they aren't the "real" Sam; there's nothing to return to. Even if there was, they won't live to enjoy much of it. And Original Sam did his time on the moon and returned home for real -- which set up the clones in the first place.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Sam says this exact phrase to GERTY once. The joke is that he's a completely inhuman robot, at least aesthetically.
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