The premise of the film, which is based on Blomkamp’s short film, Alive in Joburg and was produced by Peter Jackson, centers on the fallout caused by a group of alien refugees stranded on Earth (in Johannesburg) and forced into a segregation camp (the title comes from District 6, a former inner-city residential area in Cape Town infamous for the forced removal of 60,000 residents in the 70s by the Apartheid regime).


1. District 9
2. I Want That Arm
3. She Calls
4. Exosuit
5. Harvesting Material
6. Heading Home
7. A Lot Of Secrets
8. Back to D9
9. Wikus Is Still Running
10. Get Him Talking
11. Prawnkus


The original score for District 9 is by Canadian composer Clinton Shorter, who worked with director Blomkamp previously on some of his short films; I don’t know much about him, except that he was born in Vancouver in 1971, has written music for various independent movies, straight-to-DVD movies and TV projects in his native country, and is making his mainstream, high profile debut here. In broad terms, Shorter’s score is a three-way amalgam of a fairly large symphony orchestra, a heavy dose of electronic effects and percussion loops, and a male African vocalist. The idea behind the score is that it is a musical representation of three worlds colliding – the orchestra and live instruments representing humanity, electronics and synthesized elements for the aliens, and the vocals representing the geographical location. It’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff in terms of concept and execution, but it’s at least nice to know that Shorter has valid reasons for doing what he’s doing and making the score sound the way it sounds.

If one was to resort to sweeping generalizations and unfair comparisons to other works, one could say that District 9 is similar in tone and style to some of Hans Zimmer and company’s world music-inflected scores, like Tears of the Sun, or Beyond Rangoon, mixed with some of the action elements of scores like The Dark Knight and The Da Vinci Code. However, please don’t think that Shorter’s work is a cut-price Zimmer knock off, because it isn’t – it inhabits the same sonic world as several of Zimmer’s scores, but also has a great deal in common with the best work of urban orchestral hybrid `atmosphere’ composers like Mark Snow, Graeme Revell and Simon Boswell.

The only thing lacking from the score is a main theme, and although it would have been nice for the film to have a memorable musical element to take away, ultimately it doesn’t detract from the score enough to drop it’s rating much. Usually, I shy away of these kinds of ambient action scores and I shy away even more from them when are more textural and percussive rather than theme-based, but for some reason the District 9 score entertained me from beginning to end.


Final Score:  96% – A


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: