1. Remembering the Soweto uprising of 1976, Winnie Mandela stated “I was there among them, I saw what happened.  The children picked up stones, they used dustbin lids as shields and marched towards machine guns.’  Qtd. in Annette Debo, “Signifying Afrika: Gwendolyn Brooks’ Later Poetry,’ Callaloo 29.1 (Winter 2006): 168-81, p. 176. [return to page 1 of essay]

2. One might have hoped, in a movie concerned with segregation and boundaries, that the movie might see fit to visually mark the fact that Wikus (surely?) lives in one of Johannesburg’s 600 or so gated communities or is at least somehow definitively separated from threats to his property.  Overall, District 9 does not make as much of boundaries as it might.  One clear exception is the first entry of the armoured vehicles into District 9, where we see a giant set of gates roll apart.  More subtly, but wonderfully, later on the movie, when Christopher Johnson is reassuring his son about the place they are being removed to, Wikus – a man who in a former life hammered on shack doors – feels he cannot intrude on this scene without first announcing his presence by respectfully knocking on the door frame. [return to page 2 of essay]

3. Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis" (written 1912, first published 1915) is a superlative instance of the exploration of this theme.  Although the story begins with the line “When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous insect’ (p.76), the ensuing narration provides a detailed portrait of petty bourgeois family life, and uses Gregor’s transformation to create situations that throw into relief the stultification of the mode of living represented. Franz Kafka. Metamorphosis and Other Stories. Trans. and ed. Malcolm Pasley. London: Penguin Books, 1992.

14. Andrew Britton. The Complete Film Criticism of Andrew Britton. ed. Barry Keith Grant.  Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2009.


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