Science Fiction Cinema: Between Fantasy and Reality

Science Fiction Cinema: Between Fantasy and Reality

Science Fiction Cinema: Between Fantasy and Reality

Science Fiction Cinema: Between Fantasy and Reality

Synopsis

This major new study offers a broad historical and theoretical reassessment of the science fiction film genre. The book explores the development of science fiction in cinema from its beginnings in early film through to recent examples of the genre. Each chapter sets analyses of chosen films within a wider historical/cultural context, while concentrating on a specific thematic issue. The book therefore presents vital and unique perspectives in its approach to the genre, which include discussion of the relevance of psychedelic imagery, the 'new woman of science', generic performance and the prevalence of 'techno-orientalism' in recent films. While American films will be one of the principle areas covered, the author also engages with a range of pertinent examples from other nations, as well as discussing the centrality of science fiction as a transnational film genre. Films discussed include The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Body Snatchers, Forbidden Planet, The Quatermass Experiment, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Demon Seed, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Wars, Altered States, Alien, Blade Runner, The Brother from Another Planet, Back to the Future, The Terminator, Predator, The One, Dark City, The Matrix, Fifth Element and eXistenZ. Key Features
• Thematically organised for use as a course text.
• Introduces current and past theories and practices, and provides an overview of the main themes, approaches and areas of study.
• Covers new and burgeoning approaches such as generic performance and aspects of postmodern identity.
• Includes new interviews with some of the main practitioners in the field: Roland Emmerich, Paul Verhoeven, Ken Russell, Stan Winston, William Gibson, Brian Aldiss, Joe Morton, Dean Norris and Billy Gray.

Excerpt

I must have been about ten years old when my parents proudly demonstrated their new tape recording machine. They had recorded a conversation with friends that had taken place a few days earlier. Of course they were primarily showing off the wonders of this technology to their children, but I distinctly recall that the discussion I heard revolved around their confusion over what was meant by the closing sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1968), a film that they had recently seen. This may have been the event that sparked my interest in the science fiction genre as I remember wishing I had seen the images that had caused so much debate. In my teenage years, without really knowing what I was looking for, I was drawn to the science fiction novels of John Wyndham, Doris Lessing and Arthur C. Clark. In retrospect I think that a form of quiet teenage rebellion had much to do with my interest in the genre at this time. Escaping from the 'girly fantasies' offered by the likes of Jackie magazine or the BBC television series Ballet Shoes, science fiction seemed to offer me a far more exciting and thought provoking landscape of opportunity. This quiet rebellion was further compounded when I managed to slip in to see my first 'X' film, Zardoz (dir. John Boorman, 1974), at barely fifteen years of age. Less interested in the sex scenes than the kaleidoscope of colourful and surreal imagery set before me, this illicit viewing left me with the feeling that I had acquired some kind of sneak preview to the future. It was not until years later that I would come to examine and question the attractions of science fiction. So, in some part, this book is the result of a reflective process that was set in motion when I returned to higher education in the early 1990s.

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