Off the Planet: Music, Sound and Science Fiction Cinema

Off the Planet: Music, Sound and Science Fiction Cinema

Off the Planet: Music, Sound and Science Fiction Cinema

Off the Planet: Music, Sound and Science Fiction Cinema

Synopsis

Over the last decade, music and sound have been increasingly recognized as an important--if often neglected--aspect of film production and film studies. Off the Planet comprises a lively, stimulating, and diverse collection of essays on aspects of music, sound, and Science Fiction cinema. Following a detailed historical introduction to the development of sound and music in the genre, individual chapters analyze key films, film series, composers, and directors in the postwar era. The first part of the anthology profiles seminal 1950s productions such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, the first Godzilla film, and Forbidden Planet. Later chapters analyze the work of composer John Williams, the career of director David Cronenberg, the Mad Max series, James Cameron's Terminators, and other notable SF films such as Space Is the Place, Blade Runner, Mars Attacks!, and The Matrix. Off the Planet is an important contribution to the emerging body of work in music and film. Contributors include leading film experts from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Distributed for John Libbey Publishing

Excerpt

1977, the Harlesden Roxy in London. the Clash is playing a sell-out gig at the peak of the early buzz around the band’s edgy, energetic new wave sound. Entering the auditorium shortly before the band take the stage I’m hit by a monstrously loud, multiply echoing burst of dub reggae percussion, then the horns come in, jazzily, evoking 1960s’ ska at the same time as they nail the identity of the tune. the track is the 12 inch vinyl single Ska Wars by Rico Rodrigues, a recording that updates the Jamaican fascination with popular western cinema previously celebrated by artists such as Prince Buster, with his tribute to Hollywood gangster movies Al Capone (1967), or the spaghetti western/Sergio Leone fascination explored in the Upsetter’s Return of Django album (1969). the white punk association with a version of the Star Wars theme is significant in that Rodrigues’s engagement with Hollywood Sci-Fi music even works in the environment of a Clash gig, in which both popular music culture (“No Elvis, Beatles or Rolling Stones in 1977” [1977]) and American cultural imperialism (“I’m so bored with the USA” [eponymous]) are triumphantly disavowed in favour of cultural allusions and affinities to Jamaican roots reggae and Rastafarianism. As ever, the loops and transmutations of popular culture are nothing if not complex.

Star Wars’ release in 1977 marked the beginning of a new wave of big budget Sci-Fi films that rejuvenated the genre by revisiting an earlier era of cinematic wonderment. the film involved an ultra-realist updating premised on cinematic special effects that recreated a sense of fantasy largely absent from a decade of Hollywood films in which gritty naturalism had been prominent. the ‘updating and revisiting’ approach was nowhere so evident as in John Williams’ Star Wars score, which exemplified the classic Hollywood music tendency identified by Caryl Flinn (1992) in terms of its nostalgicist use of . . .

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