What is Science Fiction Films
A Science fiction film is a film that explores the future through scientific or technological advancements. It also frequently focuses on major social or environmental changes, often involving space travel or life on another planet.
The genre can be a bit ominous or even scary, but it can also be fun and entertaining, depending on the filmmakers. Whether you’re looking for a sci-fi classic, or a modern entry in the genre, there are plenty of options to choose from.
The Shape of Things to Come (1936)
The Shape of Things to Come is a science fiction film written by H. G. Wells and directed by William Cameron Menzies. It was released in 1936.
Things to Come takes place in a world that has been destroyed by war, then rebuilt by a group of scientists. It is a vision of a scientific Utopia that has been built on the ruins of the old one. This vision is a world where science is the dominant force in every aspect of human life.
It is a beautiful film to look at, even with its rather stiff acting. The sets are spectacular and the film itself has a lot of philosophical and political content to unpack. It was made at a time when science was still advancing and a lot of people believed that the whole universe could be humanity’s for the conquering if only we could get our hands on enough technological knowledge.
However, it was not a success on the box office. The film was made in black and white, but the prints that have been out there over the years are usually a bit muddy and the image quality is not always as good. The new Image release of the film is a pristine new film-to-video transfer, so it looks far cleaner and better than the older DVD and Laserdisc releases.
Although the film is based on a novel by Wells, it is a loose adaptation that was written for the screen. The story follows the death of Dr. Philip Raven, who has had visions of the future and who leaves behind an unpublished ‘dream book’ that tells the history of humanity through 2105.
The book is a prescient omen of the climatic disasters that would soon occur and is also full of sweeping cultural changes. There are plenty of interesting details to explore, such as the use of technology to bring about social change and the emergence of a powerful class of intellectuals.
While there are no great villains in the film, the film features a character called Theotocopulos who stirs up the masses against progress and against the rise of the “Space Gun.” He also uses the power of propaganda to influence public opinion in his favor.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
When an alien ship lands in Washington, DC, it is promptly cordoned off by the military. When Klaatu (Michael Rennie) emerges, he claims to be bringing a message of peace. He explains that his people have not been concerned with the internal affairs of Earth, but that their robot policeman Gort responds to any violence with force.
He warns that Earth should not allow its Cold War fears to dominate its thinking and drive its violent or war-like tendencies. He cautions that the people of Earth should govern with moral proprieties, and that a world without these would be a very different place.
This movie was one of the most important SF films in 1951, and it has a timeless message about humanity that is still relevant today. It also contains some of the finest-looking effects ever in a science fiction film, thanks to the use of white and the innovative stop-motion-FX work of Ray Harryhausen.
A classic black-and-white sci-fi film, The Day the Earth Stood Still was directed by Robert Wise and features an impressive score from Bernard Herrmann. It is a simple story that does not have much space battles or monsters, but it is a profound and memorable tale of human nature.
In this film, Klaatu comes to Earth on behalf of the people of his planet who have been watching the Cold War-era nuclear proliferation that has caused fear and distrust among humans. He tries to convince the representatives of all the nations of the world to come together and discuss their common interests. This is a surprising request, and it leads to some confusion for government agent Mr. Harley (Dana Andrews).
The film features a very memorable scene in which the newscasters around the world broadcast the arrival of the alien ship and Klaatu’s appearance. This is a small touch that helps the audience to visualize the events of the film.
The alien’s language is also a clever device. The word for peace, “Klaatu barada nikto,” is actually a Christian allegory. It is a warning to those who want to expand their own violent and war-like tendencies in order to achieve political power.
The Planet of the Apes (1968)
Adapted from Pierre Boule’s 1963 science-fiction novel La Planete Des Singes (Monkey Planet), Rod Serling and Michael Wilson’s science-fiction film has gone on to become one of the most popular sci-fi films of all time. Despite its flaws, Planet of the Apes is a fascinating exploration of dark fantasy that thrills and makes you think.
The movie begins with misanthropic astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston), who travels light-speed to a distant planet, only to find himself marooned in the wilderness on a populated world of intelligent apes. He is helped by Zira (Kim Hunter), an animal psychologist whose interest in him leads her to sympathize with his plight.
It soon becomes apparent that the apes are more advanced than they seem, having established an elaborate political and social system. They have also learned to talk, although their language is limited. They are treated like house pets by their human masters, who do not value them as living creatures.
Charlton Heston, who was previously known for Biblical epics, is excellent in this role. His performance is enhanced by the Oscar-winning ape makeup of John Chambers. He is well matched with Roddy McDowall as Cornelius and Kim Hunter as Zira, whose simian makeup is convincing.
Besides Heston’s performances, the film is notable for its complex sociological themes. It was produced at a time when America was undergoing a social and cultural crisis, as a result of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.
The film contains numerous racially charged social criticisms. It is a social commentary on the racist mentality still prevalent in many parts of the country at the time and it attacks the government’s policies in Vietnam. It is a social realism piece with a message that is profoundly thought-provoking, not without humor as well.
This is a great sci-fi movie and it can be enjoyed by people of all ages, although the violence is too much for kids. The ending is very scary and should not be seen by children.
A science fiction film is one that features elements of the sciences, usually in the form of extraterrestrial life. The genre often involves space-related conspiracies (The Moon Landing (1968)), space travel, and Earth-imperiling encounters or disasters (Armageddon (1998), Deep Impact (1998), and Star Wars (1977).
In some sci-fi films, the science is not confined to the physical sciences; rather, it encompasses concepts such as religion, politics, and philosophy. The movie Contact (1995) is based on Carl Sagan’s bestselling 1985 book and uses the concept of science and God to explore a relationship between humans and other life forms.
The story centers on a scientist named Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) who is trying to make first contact with an alien race in the Vega star system. She combines her love of space with her grief over the death of her father, who was killed when she was young.
When the alien lands, it assumes the appearance of her deceased father and begins to talk. When she asks questions about his identity, he explains that he is a part of her past, and that she is just on her way to becoming a member of his race.
Zemeckis, who directed Forrest Gump, also makes good use of special effects in Contact. The most notable is the awe-inspiring sequences in space, but the filmmaker also uses digital trickery to create the illusion of real events, such as President Clinton’s speech at the beginning of the film.
This kind of realism, combined with a strong script and a top-notch cast, results in a memorable movie that shows the power of cinema. For fans of the novel and Sagan’s work, this will be a must-watch.
Moreover, the film uses the concept of cyborgs as a way to question human perception. As Jodie Foster’s character Arroway travels through space, the lights and colors of space are digitally reflected on her face. This technique resembles the ‘Ghost in the Machine’ effect used in movies such as The Matrix trilogy.
As is always the case with Robert Zemeckis’s work, Contact is a fascinating look at the relationship between humans and technology. It demonstrates the incredible power of film and its ability to bring science to life.