Text: Danie Botha
Photographs: Steve Unwin, Weta Workshop
If you’ve been living in a hole in the ground for the past year or so you may not know about District 9.
Nominated for four Academy Awards, the science fiction film was shot on location in Soweto, near Johannesburg, and since its release in August 2009 has grossed a claimed R1,6-billion.
Here’s a brief heads-up on what happens in the film: in the future an extraterrestrial spaceship appears above Johannesburg. Inside the spaceship are more than a million sick, arthropod-like aliens, referred to as “prawns” by the humans.
The aliens are given asylum on Earth and are settled in an alien-only area, called District 9 (inspired by Cape Town’s historic District 6).
Over two decades the aliens’ numbers grow to 1,8-million and criminal behaviour increases. The (human) public demand more control over the “problem”, and it is decided to forcibly relocate the aliens to District 10, 200km outside of Johannesburg.
This is where the fictional Multinational United (MNU) fits into the picture. This private military organisation is tasked with enforcing the relocating process. And this is also where a fleet of specialised Toyota Hilux double cab bakkies make their screen debut in the film. These bakkies, along with some heavy-weight armoured vehicles, are used by the MNU soldiers to enforce the law.
The purpose-built bakkies play a leading role in patrolling the slums, chasing down suspects with their roaring V6 engines and, as a finale, crash into the main character’s? no wait, if you haven’t seen it yet, best get it on DVD. It’s really worth watching.
On to those Hilux bakkies. Peter Osborne is from Weta Workshop in New Zealand, the company responsible for creating the unique “fighting” bakkies. Other than District 9, Osbourne has recently worked on films such as Caspian, 30 Days of Night, Avatar (the biggest movie of all time), and is now busy on a new hush-hush project. He is also a keen off-roader himself, driving in the National 4WD trials in New Zealand.