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An Essay About The Science Fiction Film Genre

1939 words - 8 pages

Science Fiction Film: An OverviewThe science fiction film genre has been around almost as long as movies have, but like the cinema it is still a fairly young art form. This genre came into existence shortly after the invention of the movie camera in 1888 and has endured for over one-hundred years. Science fiction is adaptive; it changes with the times and this trend can be seen in its incorporation of other genres, cultural history and technology. This essay will attempt to define the genre, chronicle the history and evolution, and explore its relation to technology. This is in general and in the cinema.When discussing the science fiction film genre a problem occurs. The distinction between ...view middle of the document...

A science fiction film is a film based on currently known facts about the physical world with some type of twist which answers the question "what if." In other words it deals less with explicit characteristics and conventions and more with cultural concerns. Science fiction films give us a taste of what our lives would be like if our technological situation were different. (Newman 80) These technological changes could be a result of humans taking a different path in the past or the present, evolving into the future or as a result of a visit by extraterrestrials. It may sound obvious but a science fiction film is fiction. While science fiction films deal with real concerns they are entirely fictional. The film Deep Impact (1998) plays on our fear of Armageddon. (Mitchell 52) While an asteroid could strike earth and destroy humanity, it has not happened. For the purposes of this essay the definition of science fiction is a film that explores the repercussions of a technological situation that differs from our current relationship with technology. This definition is adequate in describing the majority of science fiction films but is still open to debate.Throughout its history the science fiction film genre has paralleled the current fears and concerns of people at the time. The science fiction film genre got its start in 1902 with Le voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) by French film maker and magician Georges Méliès. (Frank 13) It shows how during the industrial revolution, people were afraid of industry destroying the planet, forcing them to search for new places to settle. This film, and other early science fiction films such as The Mysterious Island (1929) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), also shows how pre 1960's science fiction films dealt largely with the fantastic voyage or alien invasions. (Telotte 45) While these types of science fiction film did not disappear, the 1960's ushered in a new type of science fiction film that dealt more with science, the human identity and political issues. It came at a time when major technological and social changes were occurring. The civil rights movement, assassinations of government figures and the Vietnam War were all happening in this time period. People began to have a new outlook on government. They no longer view the government as a solution to the problem as in Godzilla (1954) where the government's determination saved the day.In the movie E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982) the government captures and plans to experiment on a friendly alien stranded on earth. This new view of government is illustrated in Star Wars (1977). The first line in the opening text is "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away". (Telotte 82) It immediately removes any type of association to politics or society. Star Wars came out in response to peoples' mistrust of government. Many people ere rallying against the Vietnam War at this time and Star Wars reflected their distrust in government.2001:...

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