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Moon (film)

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Title: Moon (film)  
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Subject: 63rd British Academy Film Awards, 36th Saturn Awards, Duncan Jones, Sting discography, Solitude in fiction
Collection: 2000S Drama Films, 2000S Science Fiction Films, 2009 Films, Asteroid Mining in Fiction, British Drama Films, British Films, British Independent Films, British Science Fiction Films, Cloning in Fiction, Directorial Debut Films, English-Language Films, Exploration of the Moon, Film Scores by Clint Mansell, Films About Artificial Intelligence, Films About Solitude, Films Directed by Duncan Jones, Films Set in the Future, Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Winning Works, Moon in Film, Solitude in Fiction, Sony Pictures Classics Films, Space Adventure Films, Stage 6 Films Films, The Moon in Film
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Moon (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Duncan Jones
Produced by
Screenplay by Nathan Parker
Story by Duncan Jones
Music by Clint Mansell
Cinematography Gary Shaw
Edited by Nicolas Gaster
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release dates
  • 23 January 2009 (2009-01-23) (Sundance)
  • 17 July 2009 (2009-07-17) (United Kingdom)
Running time 97 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $5 million[1]
Box office $9,760,104[2]

Moon is a 2009 British science fiction drama film co-written and directed by Duncan Jones. The film follows Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), a man who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of a three-year solitary stint mining helium-3 on the far side of the Moon. It was the feature debut of director Duncan Jones. Kevin Spacey voices Sam's robot companion, GERTY. Moon premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and was released in select cinemas in New York and Los Angeles on 12 June 2009. The release was expanded to additional theatres in the United States and Toronto on both 3 and 10 July and to the United Kingdom on 17 July.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Release 4
    • Box office 4.1
    • Critical reception 4.2
    • Reception from the scientific community 4.3
  • Accolades 5
  • Sequels 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


In 2035, Lunar Industries have made a fortune after an oil crisis, by building Sarang, an automated lunar facility to mine the alternative fuel helium-3, which is used primarily to power fusion reactors and other things that run on fusion energy.

Sam Bell, the astronaut who maintains operations at Sarang, nears the end of a three-year work contract as the facility's sole resident. Sam oversees automated harvesters and launches canisters bound for Earth, containing the extracted helium-3. Chronic communication problems have disabled his live feed from Earth and limit him to occasional recorded messages to his wife Tess, who was pregnant with their daughter Eve when he left. His only companion is an artificial intelligence named GERTY, who assists with the base's automation and provides comfort for him.

Two weeks before his return to Earth, Sam suffers from hallucinations of a teenage girl. One such image distracts him while he is out recovering a helium-3 canister from a harvester, causing him to crash his lunar rover into the harvester. Rapidly losing cabin air from the crash, Sam falls unconscious.

Sam awakes in the base infirmary with no memory of the accident. He overhears GERTY receiving instructions from Lunar Industries to prevent him leaving the base and to wait for the arrival of a rescue team. His suspicions aroused, he manufactures a fake problem to convince GERTY to let him outside. He travels to the crashed rover, where he finds his unconscious doppelgänger.

He brings the double back to the base and tends to his injuries. The two Sams start to wonder if one is a clone of the other. After a heated argument and physical altercation, they together coerce GERTY into revealing that they are both clones of the original Sam Bell. GERTY activated the newest clone after the rover crash, and convinced him that he was at the beginning of his three-year contract.

The two Sams search the facility. They find that live communications are jammed by transmitters located beyond the outermost perimeter of the base. They also discover that four previous clones physically deteriorated three years after awakening. Told they would hibernate briefly for the journey home, they were actually euthanized and incinerated.

They find a secret vault containing hundreds of hibernating clones. They realize that Lunar Industries manufactures clones to avoid paying for new astronauts. The elder Sam drives past the interference radius in a second rover and tries to call Tess on Earth. He instead makes contact with Eve, now 15 years old, who says Tess died "some years ago." He hangs up when he hears her father, the original Sam Bell, talking in the background.

The two Sams realize that the incoming "rescue" team will kill them both if they are found together. The newer Sam suggests sending the other to Earth in one of the helium-3 transports, but the older Sam, already badly deteriorated, knows that he will not live much longer. He suggests the younger Sam leave instead, and alert the public to Lunar Industries' unethical practices. The older Sam plans to die by the crashed rover so Lunar Industries will not suspect anything until it is too late.

The younger clone orders GERTY to revive a seventh clone to greet the rescuers, then programs a harvester to crash and wreck a jamming antenna, thereby enabling live communications with Earth. GERTY advises the younger Sam to reboot him, erasing its records of the event, and Sam does so. The older Sam, back in the crippled rover, remains conscious long enough to watch the launch of the transport carrying the younger Sam to Earth.

As the credits roll, the helium transport is depicted entering Earth's upper atmosphere. News reports describe how Sam's testimony on Lunar Industries' activities has stirred up an enormous controversy, and the company's unethical practices cause a significant dip in stock value.



This is the first feature film directed by commercial director Duncan Jones, who co-wrote the script with Nathan Parker.[3] The film was specifically written as a vehicle for actor Sam Rockwell.[4] The film pays homage to the films of Jones' youth, such as Silent Running, Alien, and Outland.[5]

Jones described the intent: "[We] wanted to create something which felt comfortable within that canon of those science fiction films from the sort of late seventies to early eighties."[6] The director spoke of his interest in the lunar setting: "for me, the Moon has this weird mythic nature to it.... There is still a mystery to it. As a location, it bridges the gap between science-fiction and science fact. We (humankind) have been there. It is something so close and so plausible and yet at the same time, we really don't know that much about it."

The director described the lack of romance in the Moon as a location, citing images from the Japanese lunar orbiter SELENE: "It's the desolation and emptiness of it.... it looks like some strange ball of clay in blackness.... Look at photos and you'll think that they're monochrome. In fact, they're not. There simply are no primary colours." Jones made reference to the photography book Full Moon by Michael Light in designing the look of the film.[7]

Moon's budget was $5 million.[1] The director took steps to minimise production costs, such as keeping the cast small and filming in a studio.[6] Moon was produced at Shepperton Studios, in London,[3] where it was filmed in 33 days.[6][8] Jones preferred using models to digital animation.[5] Jones worked with Bill Pearson, the supervising model maker on Alien, to help design the lunar rovers and helium-3 harvesters in the film.[9] The Moon base was created as a full 360-degree set, measuring 85–90 feet (26–27 m) long and approximately 70 feet (21 m) wide. The film's robot, GERTY, was designed to be bound to an overhead rail within the mining base since its mechanical tether was critical to the story's plot.[6] The visual effects were provided by Cinesite, which has sought cut-price deals with independent films.[10] Since Jones had an effects background with TV advertisements, he drew on his experience to create special effects within a small budget.[6]


Sam Rockwell and Duncan Jones at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival screening

International sales for Moon are handled by the Independent sales company.[11] Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group acquired distribution rights to the film for English-speaking territories.[3] Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group was considering making Moon a direct-to-DVD release; however, after Moon premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in January 2009, Sony Pictures Classics decided to handle this film's theatrical release for Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group.[12]

Sony Pictures Classics distributed the film in the United States in cinemas,[13] beginning with screenings in select cinemas in New York and Los Angeles on 12 June.[14] The film's British premiere was held on 20 June 2009 at the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh as part of the 63rd Edinburgh International Film Festival. Jones was present at the screening along with other key crew members. The full UK release was on 17 July,[15] two days after the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.[16] The Australian release was on 8 October.[17]

Box office

Moon grossed £700,394 from its domestic release,[18] $3,370,366 from its North American release and $9,760,104 worldwide.[2]

Critical reception

Moon received positive reviews. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 89% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 185 reviews, with an average score of 7.4/10. The site's consensus states: "Boosted by Sam Rockwell's intense performance, Moon is a compelling work of science-fiction, and a promising debut from director Duncan Jones."[19] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 67 based on 29 reviews, considered to be "generally favorable reviews".[20] Damon Wise of The Times praised Jones' "thoughtful" direction and Rockwell's "poignant" performance. Wise wrote of the film's approach to the science fiction genre: "Though it uses impressive sci-fi trappings to tell its story—the fabulous models and moonscapes are recognisably retro yet surprisingly real—this is a film about what it means, and takes, to be human."[21]

Duane Byrge of The Hollywood Reporter applauded screenwriter Nathan Parker's “sharp [and] individualistic” dialogue and the way in which Parker combined science fiction and Big Brother themes. Byrge also believed that cinematographer Gary Shaw's work and composer Clint Mansell's music intensified the drama. Byrge wrote: “Nonetheless, 'Moon' is darkened by its own excellencies: The white, claustrophobic look is apt and moody, but a lack of physical action enervates the story thrust.” The critic felt mixed about the star's performance, describing him as “adept at limning his character's dissolution” but finding that he did not have “the audacious, dominant edge” for the major confrontation at the end of the film.[22]

Empire magazine praised Rockwell's performance, including it in '10 Egregious Oscar Snubs—The worthy contenders that the Academy overlooked' feature and referred to his performance as "one ... of the best performances of the year".[23]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars out of 4, saying: "'Moon' is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science-fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind of or other, including digital. John W. Campbell Jr., the godfather of this genre, would have approved. The movie is really all about ideas. It only seems to be about emotions. How real are our emotions, anyway? How real are we? Someday I will die. This laptop I'm using is patient and can wait.”[24] Moon also received positive reviews at the Sundance Film Festival.[25]

Reception from the scientific community

Moon was screened as part of a lecture series at NASA's Space Center Houston, at the request of a professor there. “He'd been reading online that we'd done this film about helium-3 mining and that's something that people at NASA are working on”, says Jones. “We did a Q&A afterward. They asked me why the base looked so sturdy, like a bunker, and not like the kind of stuff they are designing that they are going to transport with them. I said 'Well, in the future I assume you won't want to continue carrying everything with you, you'll want to use the resources on the moon to build things' and a woman in the audience raised her hand and said, 'I'm actually working on something called mooncrete, which is concrete that mixes lunar regolith and ice water from the moon's polar caps.'"[26]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result
Athens International Film Festival[27] 27 September 2009 Golden Athena Moon Won
Austin Film Critics Association Awards 15 December 2009 Austin Film Critics Award for Best Film Nominated
BAFTA Awards[28] 21 February 2010 BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer Duncan Jones Won
BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film Stuart Fenegan, Trudie Styler, Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker Nominated
British Independent Film Awards[29] 6 December 2009 BIFA Award for Best British Independent Film Moon Won
Douglas Hickox Award Duncan Jones Won
BIFA Award for Best Director Nominated
BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film Sam Rockwell Nominated
BIFA Award for Best Screenplay Nathan Parker Nominated
BIFA Award for Best Technical Achievement Clint Mansell Nominated
Tony Noble Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association[30] 7 January 2010 COFCA Award for Best Overlooked Film Moon 2nd place
Chicago Film Critics Association[31] 21 December 2009 Most Promising Filmmaker Duncan Jones Nominated
Edinburgh International Film Festival[32] 28 June 2009 Best New British Feature Moon Won
Empire Awards[33] 28 March 2010 Empire Award for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Nominated
Espoo Ciné International Film Festival[34] 29 August 2013 Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Gold Duncan Jones, Stuart Fenegan Won
Evening Standard British Film Awards[35] 8 February 2010 Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer Duncan Jones Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Technical Achievement Tony Noble Nominated
Fantastic'Arts[36] 31 January 2010 Jury Prize Duncan Jones Won
Special Prize Won
Gaudí Awards[37] 1 February 2010 Gaudí Award for Best European Film Nominated
Hugo Awards[38] 5 September 2010 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form Nathan Parker, Duncan Jones Won
Irish Film & Television Awards[39] 20 February 2010 IFTA Award for Best International Actor Sam Rockwell Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Awards[40][41] 18 February 2010 ALFS Award for British Director of the Year Duncan Jones Won
ALFS Award for British Director of the Year Nominated
ALFS Award for British Film of the Year Moon Nominated
National Board of Review of Motion Pictures[42] 12 January 2010 NBR Award for Best Directorial Debut Duncan Jones Won
NBR Award - Top Independent Films Moon Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards[43] 22 December 2009 Overlooked Film of the Year Won
Saturn Awards[44] 24 June 2010 Saturn Award for Best Actor Sam Rockwell Nominated
Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film Moon Nominated
Seattle International Film Festival[45] 14 June 2009 Golden Space Needle Award for Best Actor Sam Rockwell Won
Sitges Film Festival[46] 11 October 2009 Best Actor Won
Best Film Moon Won
Best Production Design Tony Noble Won
Best Screenplay Nathan Parker Won
Writers' Guild of Great Britain[47] 22 November 2010 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best First Feature-Length Film Screenplay Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker Won


Jones is planning a follow-up graphic novel, titled Mute, which will serve as an epilogue to Moon. Should the project progress to a film, "Sam has agreed to do a little cameo in the next film", says Jones, who ultimately hopes to complete a trilogy of films set in the same fictional universe.[26][48]


  1. ^ a b Spelling, Ian. "How David Bowie's son wound up making an indie movie about the Moon". SCI FI Wire. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Moon (2009)".  
  3. ^ a b c Siegel, Tatiana (5 May 2008). "Sony lands 'Moon' rights".  
  4. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (14 January 2009). "U.K. co-productions storm Sundance".  
  5. ^ a b "News Etc.".  
  6. ^ a b c d e Douglas, Edward (23 January 2009). "Moon"Sundance EXL: Duncan Jones & Sam Rockwell on . ComingSoon. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 
  7. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (23 October 2008). "Moon rising: Two new lunar movies are taking viewers back into orbit".  
  8. ^ Scott, A. O. Movie Review: Moon, New York Times, 12 June 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  9. ^ Marshall, Greg (16 January 2009). "Sundance goes sci-fi with 'Moon'". Park Record. 
  10. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (7 November 2008). "London's CG houses share digital wealth".  
  11. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (11 March 2008). "'"Independent flies to 'Moon.  
  12. ^ Goldstein, Gregg (23 January 2009). "10 Days of Sundance: Moon waxes Theatrical With Sony". MCN Blogs. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  13. ^ Swart, Sharon (23 January 2009). "'"Sony Classics nabs 'Moon.  
  14. ^ "MOON: A Film by Duncan Jones".  
  15. ^ Clarke, Cath (29 May 2009). "First sight: Duncan Jones".  
  16. ^ Global Release Dates"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  17. ^  
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Moon (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Moon". Metacritic. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  21. ^ Wise, Damon (24 January 2009). "Poignant tale of starman waiting in the sky".  
  22. ^ Byrge, Duane (26 January 2009). Moon" a well-assembled sci-fi thriller""".  
  23. ^ White, James. "10 Egregious Oscar Snubs".  
  24. ^  
  25. ^ Flynn, Gaynor (24 January 2009). "Brits in the thick of it at Sundance".  
  26. ^ a b Stewart, Ryan (11 June 2009). "Duncan Jones (a.k.a. Zowie Bowie): Moon".  
  27. ^ Grivas, Alexis (30 September 2009). "Moon scoops Golden Athena as 15th Athens Film Festival wraps".  
  28. ^ "Film Awards Winners in 2010".  
  29. ^ "Nominations 2009 : BIFA".  
  30. ^ "Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) - Awards". Central Ohio Film Critics Association. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  31. ^ "2009 Chicago Film Critics Awards".  
  32. ^ Child, Ben (29 June 2009). "Moon shines as best British film at Edinburgh".  
  33. ^ Reynolds, Simon (25 February 2010). "In Full: Empire Awards 2010 nominees".  
  34. ^ "Index".  
  35. ^ "Bond Girl Eva Green to present top Evening Standard movie award".  
  36. ^ "Gerardmer Fantasy Film Festival 2010". Le public système cinéma. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  37. ^ "Nominated - II Gaudí Awards".  
  38. ^ Wallace, Lewis (5 September 2010). "Moon Lands Hugo Award for Best Sci-Fi Movie".  
  39. ^ "Sam Rockwell | Spirit Awards 2014".  
  40. ^ Nemiroff, Perri (21 December 2009). "The London Film Critics' Circle Awards Quentin Tarantino Their Top Honor". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  41. ^ "Colin Firth named best British actor by 30th annual London Film Critics' Circle Awards". 19 February 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  42. ^ Karger, Dave (3 December 2009). Up in the Air' wins National Board of Review"'".  
  43. ^ "Phoenix Film Society Names "Inglourious Basterds" Top Film of 2009".  
  44. ^ Pacheco, Jared (20 February 2010). "Nominees for 36th annual Saturn Awards! Moon, Zombieland & More!". Arrow in the Head.  
  45. ^ Knegt, Peter (15 June 2009). "25 Days Later, "Dynamite" and "Cove" Tops With Seattle Audiences".  
  46. ^ "Sitges Film Festival".  
  47. ^ "Writers' Guild Award winners".  
  48. ^ "Sam Rockwell Will Have A Cameo In Moon’s Quasi-Sequel". SFX. 11 December 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 

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