I’m continuing with my research into science fiction as a whole and the breakdown of the themes highlighted in Science Fiction Cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace. Because my project focuses on earth-bound science fiction I won’t go into great detail about some of the themes, but this is a brief description with sample pictures of the next two that feature in both film and literature.
Travels in space and time
Probably one of the most well-known science fiction themes in cinema. It provides stories that can be either realistic in terms of what was technologically possible at the time that the film/book was made, or pure fantasy. With space travel, the genre has taken us from the retro, colourful This Island Earth (1954) through to the more realistic visions of Apollo 13 (1995) in which technology fails and human bravery and ingenuity is at the forefront of the story.
This Island Earth picture available from http://www.retrocinema.wetcircuit.com/films/this-island-earth/
Apollo 13 picture available from http://www.blu-ray.poral.net/apollo_13.php courtesy of Universal Pictures
Science fiction not only takes us beyond this world but to other times. A perfect example of this is Back to The Future (1985) in which a DeLorean car is made into a time machine. It highlights the brilliance of the mad scientist but more importantly that time is a concept that should not be tampered with; that every time an alteration is made in the past, no matter how small, it can have far-reaching consequences in the future.
“Time travel broadens the visual scope of science fiction because it allows its stars to be shown in various costume styles and interacting with important historical events” (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000. pg. 26)
This makes the theme particularly popular in cinema providing the chance to use all manner of technologies and design approaches available to the filmmaker. At the opposite end of the scale, the much darker approach to time travel can be seen in films like The Terminator and Twelve Monkeys (1995) both showing the future world as dystopian or post apocalyptic and the present as a preferable time to live in. Here changing things in the present can be seen as a good intervention, preventing the cataclysmic events of the future. In these films maybe we can learn something from knowing what the future is, then time travel becomes humanity’s saviour.
“The Dystopias of recent Hollywood science fiction have a seductive appeal to some viewers, combined with a sense of horror.” (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000. pg. 27)
Time travel, post apocalyptic and dystopian themes combine well with horror and is another good example of themes overlapping in science fiction. I will look at some of these cross overs in later posts.
Twelve Monkeys available at http://www.scriptgodsmustdie.com/2010/09/format-18-screen-direction-the-absolute-last-word/ courtesy of Universal Pictures
Image from The Terminator 2: Judgement Day available at http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1147444736/tt0103064?ref_=ttmi_mi_all_prd_41
KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000. Science Fiction Cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace. London: Wallflower Press
http://www.retrocinema.wetcircuit.com/films/this-island-earth/ [sourced on 22/01/14]
http://www.blu-ray.poral.net/apollo_13.php [sourced on 22/01/14]
http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1147444736/tt0103064?ref_=ttmi_mi_all_prd_41 [sourced on 23/01/14]