I found this beautiful soundtrack & scenes summary of Moon (2009) on YouTube. The soundtrack is composed by Clint Mansell.
Moon (2009) is my favourite movie. The story is helplessly tragic in a calming and caring way; narratively, philosophically, visually and musically touching. It is a love story about friendship, loyalty, identity and deceit; and about having to give up illusions and face life as it is.
Memories about love on Earth are vital for the sanity of Sam, the main (and in a sense the only) character in Moon. His memories play out in the form of dreams about life back on Earth. The dreams both revive and disturb him in this solitaire life as the sole crew on the Moon, where he looks after the Helium-3 harvesters.
Sam has almost completed his 3 years contract period on the moon base, where his only company is the ridiculously emphatic computer Gerty. He is sick of the base and can’t wait to return to Earth and reunite with his wife and young daughter, who he has never met yet. The long time in isolation has taken its toll on him, and his mental and physical health is in decline with terrible head aches and occasional hallucinations.
Sam can only communicate with his family and employer via recorded video messages because the communication satellite relaying live communication between Earth and the Moon is out of order. It has been out of order for a very long time; presumably his entire time on the Moon.
WARNING: SEVERE SPOILERS AHEAD!
Someone we’ll never know
Sam’s journey towards self-discovery starts with a near-fatal accident triggered by his eroding mental and physical condition. During a routine canister retrieval he hallucinates, looses concentration and crashes into the harvester in his rover.
Sam wakes up in the infirmary with a memory loss, looking younger and fresher. His injuries are gone and his personality seems slightly changed; more feisty, assertive and prone to loosing his temper.
The situation’s loose ends and house arrest-like restrictions provokes Sam, and he tricks Gerty so he can venture out to the stalled harvester he can see on his monitor and investigate the incident. He finds Sam in the crashed rover.
Shocked and confused, Sam carries the injured and unconscious Sam back to the base. From that point the Sams’ lives become absurdly awkward as they refuse to acknowledge each other’s authenticity but are forced to co-exist. They are both Sam. They can’t both be Sam. They can’t have the same belongings, the same wife, the same child, the same history.
As they gradually come to grip with each other’s confusing existence and accept that they are clones, a friendship develops. They begin to work together to piece together the puzzle of their lives and its implications.
The old Sam’s health is in rapid decline; his injuries don’t heal, and his body and mind seem to fall apart hour by hour.
He keeps fighting the notion that the life he believed was his, never was. He clings to his old reality long after its logic has fallen apart. He can’t accept that neither the past he remembers nor the future he anticipated was ever real. That he has never known another human being (apart from his clone), never known his wife, never been to Earth, and that he doesn’t have a contract but is his contract. That he isn’t the real Sam, but a copy, and doesn’t belong in the world where everybody else are.
Devastating evidence mounts up. Signal jammers that has blocked live communication with Earth all along. Video diaries by previous Sams whose physical & mental conditions fell terribly apart towards the end of their 3 year contract periods. An euthanasia facility disguised as a journey-home hibernation pod. Hundreds of dormant new clones in a secret underground storage facility.
The last blow to Sam’s old reality comes when he takes a videophone with him in a rover and drives outside of the signal jammers’ range. He calls home and get through to his daughter who is supposed to be a toddler, but is a teenager. She tells that his wife died ‘some years ago’ and Sam hears his own, matured voice shout from the background. That’s the point where Sam’s resistance falls apart and he acknowledges that he is a clone. He faces his real life although it is unbelievably disappointing.
A ‘rescue’ team is on the way to the Moon to clean up the crash site and get rid of the old Sam, who they think is still in the crashed rover.
When the ‘rescue’ team eventually arrives, old Sam is again in the crashed rover. He is terminally ill and watches the brief glimpse of a ballistic thing crossing the sky in direction of Earth. It is a vessel loaded with full Helium-3 canisters and young Sam hidden on board.
Gerty has awaken a new, innocent clone to be present on the base when the rescue team walks in; and young Sam rebooted Gerty’s memory banks before he left to erase recordings with the two Sams on. As Sam sees the vessel disappear towards Earth he closes his eyes for good; at peace with himself and his destiny.
What I love about Moon
I love the existential vibe of Moon’s eerie, barren dust & dunes landscape and the sight of Earth in the horizon; like an unreachable utopia. I love Sam’s familiarity with his environment, his stable routines and interactions with Gerty, the caring robot. I love the pervasiveness of the sense of isolation, the philosophical and political layers, the integrity and the case against human greed.
I love the great acting and the character development. Sam’s journey – albeit set towards a doomed, downwards spiralling destiny – is about hope, social transformation and facing reality (even dream-crushing reality). Sam, while he learns that he has never known anyone, gets his life’s first and only human friend.
The scenery is calm and stable. The rooms of the base are seen from varying angles as the stories unfold. The obscure landscape outside where the harvesters drive becomes usual albeit never familiar. I have probably seen the movie more than 60 times (and please don’t ask how many times I replayed the YouTube video above) and I keep seeing new details, new perspectives, new layers every time. It is never precisely the same movie, there is always a deeper layer. That is (some of) what I love about Moon.
Sketch by Gavin Rothery, visual designer of Sam’s world