‘Elysium’ comes from the Greek word ‘Elusion’, which means ‘(plain) of the blessed’, which is supposedly at the ends of the earth, as offered to heroes favoured by the gods after death – a place or state of perfect happiness. In the movie, it is the name of the closest tangible ‘heavenly paradise’, that could be discerned by earthlings.
In the near future, when humans have wrecked the earth with disease, pollution and over-population, the richest had fled the planet, both to shun the slums, and to preserve their way of life. Living in a massive star-shaped satellite that orbits the earth, there is then the simple ‘two-caste’ system – of those below and those above.
The earthbound ‘god-forsaken’ ones look forward to joining these ‘gods’ in Elysium, who even have medical bays that reverse ageing and sickness. However, these ‘gods’ had already decided to only exploit their cheap labour to sustain their ‘blessings’. Robots are made by the poor, for oppressing them, while serving only the rich.
Elysium presents a credible futuristic vision of class divide, with the rich having ‘heavenly’ lives while the poor ‘hellish’ ones. Sustained by the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion, thus with karmic payback to come, Elysium is but a selfish worldly haven, not true salvation for all. Dividing and not promoting well-being for all, it is no Pure Land.
How can those who abandon others to endless suffering karmically deserve eternal paradise? How can those with much more than enough, who do not compassionately share their ‘merits’ with the deprived, who instead spill over their poisons ever be ‘godly’? Inevitably, there is a revolution by the desperate, with all records for differentiating statuses expunged, wiping the slate clean. Yet, individuals’ karma runs on, not rebootable just by a system hack.