Praised by critics and Denis Villeneuve’s very successful first in the SF genre, “Premier Contact” nevertheless experienced a little quack during his promotion. In question, a poster of the film whose geographical confusion involuntarily stoked geopolitical tension and provoked an outcry.
First contact : the SF masterpiece by Denis Villeneuve
With Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve is undoubtedly one of the instigators of the “smart blockbuster.” “. Indeed, First contact was the first proof that the Quebec director was able to link film with great spectacle and depth of story. But not really when we know that the director had already made his talent speak strongly with Fires, Prisoners and Sicario.
Denis Villeneuve has always wanted to make an SF work. Based on a screenplay by Eric Heisserer who adapts the short story The story of your life by Ted Chiang, he thus stages First contact. Despite moderate commercial success (“only” $ 203.3 million from a budget of $ 47 million), the feature film collects 8 Oscar nominations (for an award) in 2017. He also obtained several nominations and awards in other prestigious ceremonies. Importantly, the film asserts Villeneuve in his ability to handle big budget sci-fi movies. Since, Blade Runner 2049 and Dune. confirmed his brilliance.
First contact is set in a world where mysterious alien vessels are popping up all over the Earth. Neither aggressive nor very communicative, these aliens retain the mystery of their arrival. Given the magnitude of the case, a team of experts called on the linguist Louise Banks. His objective will then be to find a way to communicate with them, to understand their intentions. However, time is running out since the presence of these extraterrestrials begins to cause strong tensions within the human population.
The cast of First contact including Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg.
The discord poster
In First contact, the extraterrestrials arriving in our world have monolithic vessels, 450 meters high. To mark the occasion, the production therefore unveiled promotional posters showing these famous vehicles overlooking the largest cities on the planet, and accompanied by the slogan “Why are they here? (“Why are they here?”). One of them is found in particular Hong Kong. A good idea on paper, which however turns out to be more awkward in its execution.
Indeed, within the poster, the Pearl of the Orient has also been added. Problem, this gigantic tower, among the tallest in the world with a height of 468 meters, is in Shanghai… A symbol of the Chinese state then, but not of Hong Kong. As a reminder, political history between China and Hong Kong is very stormy. Indeed, although the latter is a territory which has a certain autonomy and claims a democratic regime, it is constantly threatened by the Chinese government’s attempts to interfere and its authoritarianism.
Suffice to say that the presence of the Oriental Pearl in Hong Kong has logically annoyed Internet users from both camps, finding the shortcut very offensive. #HongKongIsNotChina hashtags have flourished on Twitter, obliging the official account of the film First contact to have to apologize on the networks.