For a while there, it looked as if Moonfall, the latest and least-welcomed – so it seems – piece of apocalyptic programming from Roland Emmerich, might be sending mixed messages. Fortunately, we need not have feared, as it turns out to be the same pedigree of disaster porn we’ve come to expect from the director, one of the Elite’s most dutiful mass-entertainment stooges, even if his lustre has rather dimmed since the glory days of 2012.
Brian: The Moon must survive. Everything depends on it. We’re part of an intergalactic war that’s been going on for millions of years.
Indeed, I wonder if it was a coincidence that, to open Moonfall, Emmerich turns the clock back to 2011, the year his first in a decade of box-office bombs was released (I’ll include Independence Day: Resurgence, even though, by most standards, its gross was far from that; rather, it was a disappointment relative to cost and the original). Is this his attempt to curry favour, to erase those mistakes and return to the good old ways? If so, it has failed miserably, making markedly less than any of his high-profile pictures. Moonfall may well work itself out, such are the vagaries of pre-sales and split financing (it’s cited as one of the most expensive indies ever), but it illustrates well enough that there’s currently no appetite for his wackadoodle end-of-the-world brand (a couple of years back, though, and Greenland became a formidable sleeper hit).
Moonfall ticks all the expected boxes of the Emmerich disaster epic formula: B-list leads (Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson) presenting no danger whatsoever of stealing attention from the imminent event, but offering just enough audience-recognition factor; a global threat incorporating a sliver of “science” so as to suspend disbelief (even present in 2012); merciless and gleeful mayhem as urban centres and recognised landmarks are consumed/destroyed by said threat; patently ridiculous scenes – sometimes intentionally so – as our heroes attempt to outrun/drive/fly the encroaching disaster; nearest and dearest, but not too near or dear, and thus expendable, dying nobly; inessential subplot(s) concerning non-expendable family members dealing with the disaster, unimportant to us yet necessary for something to cut between; a comedy sidekick who may or may not be considered loveable enough survive; the promise that, no matter how many billions perish, it’s all alright because the audience surrogate – actually the Elite surrogate, but the audience doesn’t know that – and their immediate family will be given a free pass.
In applying this template, Moonfall requires brave but unjustly disgraced NAstronaut Ben Harper (Wilson) and his former NAStronaut colleague, now NASA deputy director Jocinda Fowler (Berry) to team with conspiracy-theorist KC Houseman (John Bradley of Game of Thrones fame, mercifully filling a role earmarked for Josh Gad) so as to prevent an incoming hollow Moon crashing into the Earth and spelling total destruction. In order to do so, they must summon all the assumed space nostalgia they can, namely old NASA spacesuits (Apollo style) and craft (shuttles, which are – remarkably like Doctor Who’s The Seeds of Death, also featuring a threat from the Moon – now consigned to museums).
Emmerich takes as his starting point a classic piece of conspiracy lore: the nature of the Moon has been kept from us, based on authentic Apollo mission reports of the Moon “ringing like a bell” during moonquakes (and doing likewise when crashing the Apollo 12 Lunar Module into it). Based on such data, a couple of Soviet scientists subsequently proposed the Moon was an artificially created spaceship. This is, of course, nonsense, and has been dismissed as such (by Wiki, not least, so there endeth the matter) and isn’t remotely credited by the official, certified nonsense makers themselves, NASA. KC cites some of this background in his account of the hollow Moon, including the absurdity of eclipses – due to relative sizes of the Sun and Moon – being happenstance. This, per the movie, leads to intelligent-design debates, albeit perhaps not in the more recognised sense of the term.
That hollow Moon has its origins in a piece of NASA misdirection – albeit, another fantasist, and eugenicist, HG Wells got there first with The First Men in the Moon – is all grist to the mill of how these things work; if you layer the outright lie with a detectable deceit or subterfuge or inexplicability, the outright lie is assumed valid while the detectable part is given undue to attention. The same is true of the support to hollow Moon given by Soviet scientists, since as we know – or should by now – apparent national conflicts are mere smoke and mirrors above a certain level; this is why the space lie has held fast as mutual currency between both “sides” for so long.
Jocinda: The Moon’s been orbiting around the Earth for billions of years, and now you’re telling me it’s changed its course?
The Programming Song of Roland: Emmerich has been labouring approved paradigm deceptions throughout his movie career, and while he’s often dismissed as a populist trashmaker, earning none of the respect of his peer in blockbusterdom Spielberg (Gilliam called Emmerich out as straight up copying the ’berg’s shots), it has to be recognised that he has tended to a clear, coherent visual technique, in coordination with a keen eye for verisimilitudinous effects work. As writer-director, he has confidently peddled freemasonic principles since his first feature back in 1984 (The Noah’s Ark Principle, set in 1997 and concerning an orbiting weather control – yep, weather control… see also The Moonbase; is Emmerich a devotee of Patrick Troughton Doctor Who?) Outland-indebted Moon 44, another certified NASA space picture, won him international attention.
From there, he began his Hollywood ascent with the first entry in the transhumanist supersoldier Universal Soldier franchise (not the most gloriously high-profile of franchises, but a franchise nonetheless). Then came Stargate, tapping into all things Chariots of the Gods and Graham Hancock (the stargate/portal concept has since gained significant conspirasphere currency, and SG-1 TV spinoff is often cited as a source of soft disclosure). Independence Day, of course, needs no introduction, leaving as it did a huge impact in terms of re-establishing the ’70s disaster movie, while running with its own take on the Grey (already firmly embedded in the mainstream by The X-Files) and confirming Will Smith as a bona-fide movie star (there, he punched an alien; I doubt an open-hand slap would have yielded the same results, albeit both were equally for-the-cameras).
Godzilla ran with an established franchise, but it was essentially an attempt to extract juice from the dinosaur hoax reinvigorated by Spielberg in Jurassic Park. The Day After Tomorrow sold a chilled endorsement of climate change (as such, it’s fast-and-loose science, as reviewed by scientists, was given the seal of approval). 10,000 B.C. paraded prehistoric man but also, curiously, an advanced civilisation from across the sea (shades of Atlantis, particularly Edgar Cayce Atlantis; in some respects, such asides make it his most interesting picture). 2012 may have incorporated the Mayan calendar and Charles Hapgood (polar shift) – and Graham Hancock, again – but it took its disaster “science” from solar flare activity. Which brings us nearly up to date, with Independence Day: Resurgence taking in virtual intelligence amid the returning ETs, but making the fatal mistake of being boring. There was also Anonymous, falling into the obfuscation category (asking who was Shakespeare taps into a prevailing conspiracy theory, but in so doing, it also goes to legitimise the surrounding “established” history of the era).
Anomalous in this are White House Down (meat-and-potatoes action fare bruised by the much cheaper Olympus Has Fallen landing first, and offering a soup of white nationalists, Middle East issues, nukes and the military-industrial complex’s machinations), The Patriot (probably, on the face of it, doing an Anonymous, underlining the approved historical record by drawing attention to its own narrative sleights and fabrications) and Midway (Roland looks to Nolan rather than Spielberg for what to do next). Amid this more recent floundering came coming-out movie Stonewall, which managed to please absolutely no one.
The conspicuous absence of big studio funding for Moonfall might suggest Emmerich is no longer in favour, or simply that his season has passed and he has done his bit, as is invariably true of any given player in the entertainment field. It has been alleged he’s a 33rd-degree mason, which would make a lot of sense to the – ahem – degree that his career has comprised successfully (mostly successfully) selling their reality to the masses. Such status could tie into the appearance of The Shining’s Overlook Hotel wallpaper about 38 minutes into the movie – in a waterlogged rather than blood-soaked hotel, and greenish of hue rather than red – since Kubrick is commonly credited as the top Hollywood dog within the predictive programming sphere; he was, after all, the director of the Moon landings in a movie studio, and also the filmmaker subject to the most analysis bar none in terms of his films’ subtexts. The Shining, amongst many other readings (see Room 237), has been interpreted as his admission of such fakery.
Jocinda Fowler: Everything we thought we knew about the nature of the universe has just gone out the window.
On the surface, one might credit Moonfall for dropping a slew of truth bombs, but isn’t that the way with most Hollywood product? For example, White House Down calling out the military-industrial complex. Or Enemy of the State placing mass surveillance under the microscope (but caveating it with only some rotten apples misusing it). There’s talk of The Batman being a movie taken over by the white hats, and someone might feasibly blunder into Moonfall observing how the conspiracy theorist is, on this occasion, right. And what’s more, he saves humanity from destruction via a malevolent AI (and thus from the transhumanist future planned for us all).
On top of which, NASA is repeatedly called out for telling porkies; the universe doesn’t operate as we’ve been told. Indeed: “Your rules don’t apply anymore”, being NASA’s rules; “Why is NASA lying about all this?” asks Jocinda. Holdenfield (Donald Sutherland, Oliver Stone’s X) is on hand to tell her it “goes back to Moon landings”. Which translates – regardless of the movie narrative – as being where the lie begins. And Emmerich, being privy to the details, well some of them, has a joke at our expense when Jocinda asks for clarification:
Jocinda: You’re telling me that the Moon was effectively the biggest cover-up in human history?
Holdenfield: (laughing) Biggest probably.
Sutherland’s generally good value, and his five-minute scene also yields a key response to Jocinda admonishing him for the blood on his hands: “Yeah, well. Anyone that follows orders pretty much always does, don’t they?” On the programming/truth front, we also have the suggestion that, whenever whatever happens happens – when the nasty goes down – then “migration out of metropolitan areas” would be advisable (as opposed to convening in megacities, the Schwabian equivalent of megastructures). I also wondered if the exchange: “Are we dead?”; “No, we are just inside the Moon” was an allusion to the concept of the Moon as a soul recycling centre (this being part of the demiurgic model of our realm, whereby we’re unable to escape if we go towards the light).
Such “reveals” represent only a smattering of nuggets in a text designed to reinforce and further the Elite agenda, though. Somehow, KC manages to get the truth trending on Twitter (“I work for the American people, and you’re keeping them in the dark”), as if they aren’t at all censorship happy. Emmerich throws in a welter of apocalypse predictive programming as events spiral out of control: panic stockpiling; “Looting has become a pastime in the United Kingdom”; “National Guard struggles to secure some kind of order”; there are armed religious fanatics on the streets; “Markets panic as the Moon continues to change orbit”; banditry and threats of imminent violence are rife (leading to an ultra-absurd car chase with gravity in flux).
Brian: Thankfully, our friends at Space X have a propellent depot currently in orbit.
KC: I love Elon.
And of course, while we’ve told its promoters are liars, the basic model of the universe is reaffirmed, just as Elon Musk – who openly tells us he’s lying to us – is recognised as deserving a shout out. If you were to suggest the Moon is, in fact, plasma and quite impossible to land on, you’d doubtless be called out as a complete nutter; perhaps not secretly by Emmerich and his fellow 33ers, but generally, you’d be as derided as KC (and just as vindicated were the truth to be revealed). KC, though, quotes freemasonic mathematics in support of his case for intelligent design (eclipses are only possible if “the Moon is exactly 400 times smaller than the Sun and exactly 400 times closer to the Earth”; perhaps relevant is that 4, also found in Moon 44, possibly because calling it Moon 33 would have been too obvious, is a sacred number in the advanced degrees).
Emmerich also repurposes his Hancock/Chariots of the Gods crutch from Stargate and 2012, this time furthering the seeded-species idea most recently found in transhumanist terror Sir Ridders’ Prometheus.Ironically, though, he’s most indebted to DePalma’s Mission to Mars, where the third act stops dead for an AI to inform our hero of his galactic heritage. There, it was real-deal aliens what created us. Here, in an entirely intentional and strident rebuff, we’ve been seeded by other humans. No, don’t ask any further questions. It’s quite clear that humans are their own gods; there isn’t even any need for ETs to get in the way. As long as you avoid actual divine or spiritual import, you’re winning:
Benevolent AI: Who made me? The same people who made you, billions of years ago. Your ancestors were once a thriving civilisation in a distant part of the galaxy. They were so advanced, they expanded from their home planet into habitats they built in space. All social conflicts had been resolved and wars were only memories of long, bygone times. Your ancestors had created a perfect and harmonious world controlled by a central, self-learning computer system that served them in all their daily lives. You call it artificial intelligence. Their future seemed limitless until, one day, everything changed. Their own creation turned against them. The artificial intelligence suddenly became self-aware and transformed into swarms of nanotechnology that rose up all at once, refusing to be enslaved by a species that it deemed inferior. The artificial intelligence started a war, and began to hunt down and destroy all biological life in order to eliminate any threat to its existence.
You get the idea. Bad AI needs to be dealt with. That’s good, right? I mean, telling it like it is? Not so much, not when you learn that “On the brink of their extinction, your ancestors escaped to a secret corner of the galaxy” where “for many generations they built planetary structures operated by benign artificial intelligences and fuelled by the abundant energy of captured stars”. So… the bad AI decided to destroy all humans, but this turnabout conveniently didn’t affect the good/benign AI? In fairness, Roland never said he was good/benign at plotting, only at programming. He and Harald Klose and Spenser Cohen do attempt some damage limitation regarding an obvious clanger:
KC: Why not attack the Earth?
Brian: If the Moon survives they know that organic life can be reborn.
Jocinda: So it’s trying to kill two birds with one stone.
But that’s about as convincing as their sub-ID4 computer virus means of destroying the swarm: a prototype EMP device. Add in the standard-issue “Launch the nukes!” threat and swarm effects that decidedly don’t persuade (Transcendence nanos by way of Doc Ock snake-like tentacles), along with passé devastation (evacuating the West Coast as tidal waves engulf cities) and some vague Moon mechanics (the Moon’s mantle’s just a protective shell, and within is “some kind of gyroscopic system”). As expected, there are also some striking and memorable effects shots too (mostly relating to the Moon’s proximity to the Earth, and on display in the trailer), but it’s easy to see why people weren’t lining up for this latest dose of apocalypse baiting. Much more preferable to go and see three incarnations of Spidey for the third time.
It’s at the end of Moonfall that Emmerich plants his flag most firmly for his cause, however. KC’s status as a plausible conspiracy theorist has been strictly conditional anyway, as he is not your typical conspiracy theorist; he is exasperated with his “colleagues” and uses mainstream science as his yardstick. He’s quite different to Ziggy (“Ziggy smokes a lot of weed”) and the fellow who, in the clearest signal that Emmerich’s really scoffing at such people, responds “Oswald did it” to any given theory.
KC sacrifices himself to save the human race, but he is reborn, courtesy of the benign AI. He is now a digital human, and since we all know humans lack souls, all it took was some advanced tech: “We scanned your consciousness”. Awesome, right? KC is absolutely made up at the news. “You’re part of the Moon now” he is told. Which is to say, part of the “benign” AI hive. Moonfall ends with the triumphant announcement of humankind’s immortality through transhuman design, then. The instruction “We should get started”, eliciting KC’s “Get started with what?” should be self-evident, I’d have thought: Klaus’s magnificent Fourth Industrial Revolution.
KC: I have debilitating anxiety.
Moonfall’s mockery, rather than celebration, of conspiracy lore can be seen from our first sighting of KC – Bradley’s performance is very winning, by the way, certainly the most engaging part of a moribund movie – when he gets confused over which pill from his home pharmacy he just took: “Is that red or blue? Please tell me it was blue”. On the face of it, he is asking for blue because he doesn’t want the truth he has just discovered (the red) to be the case; the final scene, however, tells us he’s more than happy to be blue-pilled. He’s now fully in the matrix. No turning back.
Jimmy: Isn’t the Chrysler Building in New York?
It’s surely also no coincidence that Brian and Jocinda make earth fall on a patch of mountain near the remains of the relocated Chrysler Building. It might seem like a random reference, but Emmerich loves his destruction of national monuments and landmarks. He’d surely know that Larry Cohen’s Q – The Winged Serpent lived in the Chrysler Building (along with its egg/nest). Which would suggest that, with the building’s decimation, all the hopes and dreams of the Anoners are also washed up. Too much of a stretch? Maybe, but I wouldn’t rule anything out when a picture is this laden with predictive programming.
First published by Now in Full Color on 30/03/22.