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Science fiction (film)
Titles: Trip to the Moon (1902) - Metropolis (1927) - Things to Come (1936) - Barbarella (1968) - Clockwork Orange (1971) - Soylent Green (1973) - Silent Running (1972) - Dark Star (1974) - Demon Seed (1977) - Videodrome (1983) - Akira (1988) - Gattaca (1997) - V for Vendetta (2006)
Cultural theorist Scott Bukatman has proposed that science fiction film is the main area in which it is possible in contemporary culture to witness an expression of the sublime be it through exaggerated scale (the Death Star in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), apocalypse (Independence Day) or transcendence (2001: A Space Odyssey). [Aug 2006]
Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction (1993) - Scott Bukatman [Amazon.com]
science fiction (books) - science fiction (general info)
Gattaca (1997) - Andrew Niccol [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Uma Thurman in Gattaca (1997)
Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon) (1902) - Georges Méliès
Science fiction film is "a film genre which emphasizes actual, extrapolative, or speculative science and the empirical method, interacting in a social context with the lesser emphasized, but still present, transcendentalism of magic and religion, in an attempt to reconcile man with the unknown" (Sobchak 63).
This definition assumes that a continuum exists between empiricism and transcendentalism with science fiction film on the side of empiricism and horror film and fantasy film on the side of transcendentalism. However, there are numerous well-known examples of science fiction horror films, epitomized by Frankenstein and Alien.
Not all science fiction themes are equally suitable for movies. In addition to science fiction horror, space opera is most common. Often enough, these films could just as well pass as Westerns or WWII movies if the science fiction props were removed. Common themes also include voyages and expeditions to other planets, and dystopias, while utopias are rare. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction_film [Oct 2004]
- Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - François Truffaut [Amazon.com]
The classic science fiction novel by Ray Bradbury was a curious choice for one of the leading directors of the French New Wave, François Truffaut. But from the opening credits onward (spoken, not written on screen), Truffaut takes Bradbury's fascinating premise and makes it his own. The futuristic society depicted in Fahrenheit 451 is a culture without books. Firemen still race around in red trucks and wear helmets, but their job is to start fires: they ferret out forbidden stashes of books, douse them with gasoline, and make public bonfires. Oskar Werner, the star of Truffaut's Jules and Jim, plays a fireman named Montag, whose exposure to David Copperfield wakens an instinct toward reading and individual thought. (That's why books are banned--they give people too many ideas.) In an intriguing casting flourish, Julie Christie plays two roles: Montag's bored, drugged-up wife and the woman who helps kindle the spark of rebellion. The great Bernard Herrmann wrote the hard-driving music; Nicolas Roeg provided the cinematography. Fahrenheit 451 received a cool critical reception and has never quite been accepted by Truffaut fans or sci-fi buffs. Its deliberately listless manner has always been a problem, although that is part of its point; the lack of reading has made people dry and empty. If the movie is a bit stiff (Truffaut did not speak English well and never tried another project in English), it nevertheless is full of intriguing touches, and the ending is lyrical and haunting. --Robert Horton for amazon.com
- 2001 - A Space Odyssey (1968) - Stanley Kubrick [Amazon US]
When Stanley Kubrick recruited Arthur C. Clarke to collaborate on "the proverbial intelligent science fiction film," it's a safe bet neither the maverick auteur nor the great science fiction writer knew they would virtually redefine the parameters of the cinema experience. A daring experiment in unconventional narrative inspired by Clarke's short story "The Sentinel," 2001 is a visual tone poem (barely 40 minutes of dialogue in a 139-minute film) that charts a phenomenal history of human evolution. From the dawn-of-man discovery of crude but deadly tools in the film's opening sequence to the journey of the spaceship Discovery and metaphysical birth of the "star child" at film's end, Kubrick's vision is meticulous and precise. In keeping with the director's underlying theme of dehumanization by technology, the notorious, seemingly omniscient computer HAL 9000 has more warmth and personality than the human astronauts it supposedly is serving. (The director also leaves the meaning of the black, rectangular alien monoliths open for discussion.) This theme, in part, is what makes 2001 a film like no other, though dated now that its postmillennial space exploration has proven optimistic compared to reality. Still, the film is timelessly provocative in its pioneering exploration of inner- and outer-space consciousness. With spectacular, painstakingly authentic special effects that have stood the test of time, Kubrick's film is nothing less than a cinematic milestone--puzzling, provocative, and perfect. --Jeff Shannon for amazon.com
- Blade Runner (1982) - Ridley Scott [Amazon.com]
When Ridley Scott's cut of Blade Runner was finally released in 1993, one had to wonder why the studio hadn't done it right the first time--11 years earlier. This version is so much better, mostly because of what's been eliminated (the ludicrous and redundant voice-over narration and the phony happy ending) rather than what's been added (a bit more character development and a brief unicorn dream). Star Harrison Ford originally recorded the narration under duress at the insistence of Warner Bros. executives who thought the story needed further "explanation"; he later confessed that he thought if he did it badly they wouldn't use it. (Moral: Never overestimate the taste of movie executives.) The movie's spectacular futuristic vision of Los Angeles--a perpetually dark and rainy metropolis that's the nightmare antithesis of "Sunny Southern California"--is still its most seductive feature, an otherworldly atmosphere in which you can immerse yourself. The movie's shadowy visual style, along with its classic private-detective/murder-mystery plot line (with Ford on the trail of a murderous android, or "replicant"), makes Blade Runner one of the few science fiction pictures to legitimately claim a place in the film noir tradition. And, as in the best noir, the sleuth discovers a whole lot more (about himself and the people he encounters) than he anticipates.... With Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, and M. Emmet Walsh. --Jim Emerson for amazon.com
- Zardoz (1974) - John Boorman [Amazon.com]
A bewigged Sean Connery is Zed, a savage "exterminator" commanded by the mysterious god Zardoz to eliminate Brutals, survivors of an unspecified worldwide catastrophe. Zed stows away inside Zardoz's enormous idol (a flying stone head) and is taken to the pastoral land of the Eternals, a matriarchal, quasi-medieval society that has achieved psychic abilities as well as immortality. Zed finds as much hope as disgust with the Eternals; their advancements have also robbed them of physical passion, turning their existence into a living death. Zed becomes the Eternals' unlikely messiah, but in order to save them--and himself--he must confront the truth behind Zardoz and his own identity inside the Tabernacle, the Eternals' omnipresent master computer.
A box office failure, John Boorman's Zardoz has developed a cult following among science fiction fans whose tastes run toward more cerebral fare, such as The Andromeda Strain and Phase IV. An entrancing if overly ambitious (by Boorman's own admission) film, Zardoz offers pointed commentary on class structure and religion inside its complex plot and head-movie visuals; its healthy doses of sex and violence will involve viewers even if the story machinations escape them. Beautifully photographed near Boorman's home in Ireland's Wicklow Mountains by Geoffrey Unsworth (2001), its production design is courtesy of longtime Boorman associate Anthony Pratt, who creates a believable society within the film's million-dollar budget. The letterboxed DVD presentation includes engaging commentary by Boorman, who discusses the special effects (all created in-camera) as well as working with a post-Bond Connery. --Paul Gaita for amazon.com
- Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) - Joseph Sargent [Amazon.com]
Many snicker at the size of colossus, especially in comparison to the supercomputers of today; but in 1970 it was state of the art and more complex than any other system ever created. The movie is great. Colossus and his Soviet built friend Guardian quickly notice each other. Colossus then begins sharing mathmatical information with Guardian and the to develope an inter-system language (which is pretty much just random binary code... but that's okay) that the scientists that created the two computers cannot understand. Eventually, the two computers use threats of total human destruction to take over the world. My favorite scen is when an attempt to overload the Colossus system is attempted, and the computer orders the execution of the two men who planned it. The two are ordered to be shot and their bodies to remain in Colossus's view for 24 hours and then cremated. This film entered a new form of Cold War enemy into film; an enemy that is indestructable, all powerful, super intelligent, and that worst of all is completely emotionless. The announcement to the world made by the two combined systems (Colossus-Guardian) is particularly chilling. The movie is great, though somewhat outdated by our current technology; but the fact that the technology is outdated doesn't effect the mood of the film at all. In my opinion, the enormous size of Colossus makes it even more frightening (it's built in a hollowed out mountain). I recomend this film to any lover of Cold War Scifi or just of suspence and scifi in general. Definitely deserving of a Widescreen DVD remaster (along with Soylent Green... but one can only ask for so much). anonymous for amazon.com
- eXistenZ (1999) - David Cronenberg [Amazon.com]
Director David Cronenberg's eXistenZ is a stew of corporate espionage, virtual reality gaming, and thriller elements, marinated in Cronenberg's favorite Crock-Pot juices of technology, physiology, and sexual metaphor. Jennifer Jason Leigh is game designer Allegra Geller, responsible for the new state-of-the-art eXistenZ game system; along with PR newbie Ted Pikul (Jude Law), they take the beta version of the game for a test drive and are immersed in a dangerous alternate reality. The game isn't quite like PlayStation, though; it's a latexy pod made from the guts of mutant amphibians and plugs via an umbilical cord directly into the user's spinal column (through a BioPort). It powers up through the player's own nervous system and taps into the subconscious; with several players it networks their brains together. Geller and Pikul's adventures in the game reality uncover more espionage and an antigaming, proreality insurrection. The game world makes it increasingly difficult to discern between reality and the game, either through the game's perspective or the human's. More accessible than Crash, eXistenZ is a complicated sci-fi opus, often confusing, and with an ending that leaves itself wide open for a sequel. Fans of Cronenberg's work will recognize his recurring themes and will eat this up. Others will find its shallow characterizations and near-incomprehensible plot twists a little tedious. --Jerry Renshaw, Amazon.com
- Cube (1997) [Amazon.com]
Cube is a 1997 Canadian sci-fi movie directed by Vincenzo Natali. Seven people, who are complete strangers to each other, awaken inside a maze of cubes, having no memory of how they got there. They are forced to work together to escape and, along the way, have various (sometimes frightening) personality clashes.
Despite its low budget, the film achieved moderate commercial success and has acquired something of a cult status as a niche science-fiction title. Much of the film's appeal lies in its surreal, almost Kafkaesque setting - no extensive attempt is made to explain what the cube is or why it is created, or why the "inmates" were specifically selected to be imprisoned inside. Although the world "outside" is referred to, it is presented in an extremely abstract fashion as either a dark void or a bright white light. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cube_(movie) [Apr 2005]
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