Download Science Fiction Film (Genres in American Cinema) PDF

TitleScience Fiction Film (Genres in American Cinema)
ISBN 139780521593724
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size15.7 MB
Total Pages270
Table of Contents
                            Cover
Half-title
Series-title
Title
Copyright
Contents
Illustrations
Acknowledgments
PA RT ONE Approaches
	1 Introduction: The World of the Science Fiction Film
		Science Fiction as Fantasy
		Genre Determinations
		A Tradition of Trickery
		Genre Thinking
	2 Science Fiction Film
		Science Fiction and Humanism
		Susan Sontag
		Ideological Criticism
		Psychoanalytic Criticism
		Feminism
		Postmodernism
		Synthesis
PART TWO Historical Overview
	3 A Trajectory of the American Science Fiction Film
		Antecedents
		Literature
		The Pulps
		Science Fiction Literature
		Early Science Fiction Cinema
		The Machine Age
		The Serials
		Springtime for Caliban
		Post-2001
		A New Myth
		Postmodern Science Fiction
		Science Fiction and Gender
		The Anime Influence
		Special Effects
PART THREE Film Analyses
	4 The Science Fiction Film as Fantastic Text
	5 The Science Fiction Film as Marvelous Text
	6 The Science Fiction Film as Uncanny Text
	7 Crossing Genre Boundaries/Bound by Fantasy
	8 Conclusion: A Note on Boundaries
		Critical Consensus
		Dynamics of Genre
Notes
	PART I. APPROACHES
		1. Introduction: The World of the Science Fiction Film
		2. Science Fiction Film: The Critical Context
	PART II. HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
		3. A Trajectory of the American Science Fiction Film
	PART III. FILM ANALYSES
		4. The Science Fiction Film as Fantastic Text
		5. The Science Fiction Film as Marvelous Text
		6. The Science Fiction Film as Uncanny Text
		7. Crossing Genre Boundaries/Bound by Fantasy
		8. Conclusion: A Note on Boundaries
Bibliography
Select Filmography of the American Science Fiction Film
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 135

ing what André Bazin had termed the informing dream of cinema – the
perfect reproduction of reality. It might be fruitful, therefore, to view
that narrative recoil not only as the sort of technophobic response we
so often encounter in our science fiction films, but also as a kind of in-
dustrial response to a potentially competitive medium, to the seeming-
ly limitless powers of reproduction and recreation bound up in the
computer and its multimedia applications.

One particularly noteworthy application of the seemingly boundless
capacity of CGI effects for “making visible” our almost unimaginable
fantasies has moved beyond this long fascination with artifice in a tell-
ing way. In fact, it marks a return to a territory first explored during the
Depression in such films as Deluge (1933) and S.O.S. Tidal Wave (1939),
and again during the cold-war years in works like When Worlds Collide
(1951) and The Day the World Ended, that of the apocalyptic disaster.
In Independence Day (1996) an alien civilization suddenly appears, ap-
parently intent on wiping out human civilization and, like interstellar
locusts, consuming all of our planet’s resources before moving on to
another doomed host. Starship Troopers (1997) [Fig. 52] builds upon

A T R A J E C T O R Y O F T H E A M E R I C A N S C I E N C E F I C T I O N F I L M 119❖

Figure 52. Apocalyptic scenarios of the 1930s and 1950s return for the new mil-
lennium in such films as Starship Troopers (1997).

Page 136

this same impulse with its tale of interplanetary warfare, impelled by
asteroids sent to crash into Earth by the insect inhabitants of the dis-
tant planet Klendathu. With Deep Impact (1998), Armageddon (1998),
and several similar narratives, we see Earth’s inhabitants confronting
a seemingly inevitable end (a situation previously envisioned in Abel
Gance’s science fiction epic La Fin du monde [End of the World, 1931]
and the British film Meteor [1979]), one that all of their technological
attainments seem practically powerless to avert. Obviously linked to
the coming of the millennium (in much the way that the closing years
of the nineteenth century similarly saw a proliferation of literary works
on futuristic and apocalyptic themes), these films seem intent on sug-
gesting both the limits of our technological attainments and our ulti-
mate dependence on those same attainments. Indeed, in Deep Impact
the spaceship that, through a suicide mission, manages to save Earth
from an Extinction Level Event, as it is termed in the film, is named
Messiah. Significantly, in all of these films what makes that last-moment
technological salvation possible is something far more fundamental,
more human than any scientific creation – it is the coming together of
a group of individuals, of mismatched and unlikely heroes whose self-
lessness and imagination manage to overcome or work around the ini-
tial, and seemingly final, failures of their technology.

These works seem a most fitting cap, then, for the end of the millen-
nium, for a century of science fiction films, and even for this brief his-
torical overview; for in them we see brought into the foreground both
the fundamental tensions and the ultimate stakes in the human rela-
tionship to the technological that is a central part of the human story
and of our science fiction films. In the best traditions of the fantastic,
these disaster films draw upon the very technological foundations of
the cinema in order to “make visible” that which could be, even the un-
imaginable end of both humanity and all of its cinematic imaginings. If
the genre has, throughout its history, limned our strained relationship
to science and technology, one that, as Robert Romanyshyn explains,
at times leaves us feeling as if we were caught in a “dream of distance”
from our world and, at others, as if we were engaged in a necessary
journey of “understanding” that world,57 in these more recent works
it seems to capture both terms in that relationship and visualize their
connection. Of course, that accomplishment, that sort of dynamic vi-
sion, is what we might hope to find after a century of effort in a genre,
as well as a testament to just how well the fantastic has served the
American imagination.

H I S T O R I C A L O V E R V I E W120 ❖

Page 269

Tarratt, Margaret, 45, 49
Taylorism, 82
Technicolor, 87, 95, 100
technology, 4, 9, 12, 19, 22, 24, 25, 28, 43,

49, 56, 81, 192, 194
and efficiency movement, 68
fear of, 41–2, 99, 103, 113, 116, 119, 120,

126, 213n11, 214n2
futuristic, 125, 131
history of, 63
impact on Western culture, 29, 36, 65,

88, 94, 116, 217n3
and postmodernism, 59, 77, 108
of reproduction, 30, 52, 120, 127
and social evolution, 67
and technoculture, 40, 50, 52, 172, 178
values of, 140

television, 94–5
influence of serial on, 95

Terminal Man, The (Hodges), 14, 103, 162,
240

Terminator, The (Cameron), 14, 22, 52,
108, 110, 161, 240–1

Terminator 2 (Cameron), 14, 15, 22, 33,
49, 108–10, 115, 118, 161, 172, 203,
241

Testa, Bart, 183, 194
Them! (Douglas), 39, 98, 148, 241
Thing, The (Carpenter), 241
Thing from Another World, The (Nyby), 9,

13, 20, 43–4, 45, 48, 51, 96, 181, 241
Things to Come (Menzies), 13, 26, 37, 125,

126, 130, 198
Thirteenth Floor, The (Rusnak), 118
This Island Earth (Newman), 241
THX 1138 (Lucas), 13, 123–41, 154, 166,

213n19, 241
Tichi, Cecelia, 86, 94
Time After Time (Meyer), 241
Time Machine, The (Pal), 37, 242
time travel, 46
Timecop (Hyams), 242
“Today and Tomorrow” pamphlets, 68
Todorov, Tzvetan, 10–12, 17, 19, 20, 22, 28,

31, 59, 123, 144, 146, 158, 162, 179,
206n17

and fantastic hesitation, 16, 22, 124,
137

and science fiction, 14, 145
and the supernatural, 159
on themes of discourse, 158, 188, 189–

90
on themes of the self, 15, 162
on themes of vision, 158, 162, 188–9
and the uncanny, 164, 174

Tolstoi, Alexei, 84
Tom Corbett: Space Cadet (TV series), 95
Top Gun (T. Scott), 193
Top Hat (Sandrich), 198
Total Recall (Verhoeven), 55, 164, 165, 175,

193, 242
Tremaine, F. Orlin, 70
Trip to the Moon, A (Méliès), 25, 79, 116
Tron (Lisberger), 56, 116–17, 242
Truffaut, François, 156
Truman Show, The (Weir), 139
Trumbull, Douglas, 104, 108
Tunnel, Der (Bernhardt), 86
Tunnel, The (Elvey), 86
Twelve Monkeys (Gilliam), 242
Twentieth Century–Fox, 194
Twenty Million Miles to Earth (Juran), 242
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1907,

Méliès), 80
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

(1954, Fleischer), 242
Twilight Zone, The (TV series), 95
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick), 22, 26,

38, 99–102, 104, 105, 108, 146, 202,
212n47, 242–3

2010 (Hyams), 146
Twonky, The (Oboler), 243

UFOs, 96, 143, 147, 152, 156
Undersea Kingdom, The (Kane and Eason,

serial), 92–3, 243
Universal Soldier (Emmerich), 243
utopias, 4, 12, 13, 16, 41, 69, 81, 82–7, 123–

5, 130, 133, 138–9, 146, 209–10n10,
212n2, 214n29

and escapism, 123, 127
interrogative character of, 128–9, 134,

141
literary tradition of, 124–5
political dimension of, 125, 126

Van Vogt, A. E., 75
Voyage of the Space Beagle, The (novel),

75
World of Null A, The (novel), 75

Verhoeven, Paul, 163–5, 169, 175, 177,
215n11

Fourth Man, The, 165
Hollow Man, 164
as satirist, 175, 176, 177
Starship Troopers, 6, 20, 119–20, 148,

164, 175, 177, 240
Total Recall, 55, 164, 165, 175, 193, 242
and violence, 164
see also RoboCop

I N D E X 253❖

Page 270

Verne, Jules, 65, 66, 67, 70, 80, 198
Around the World in 80 Days (novel), 66
From the Earth to the Moon (novel), 66,

79
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

(novel), 66
Videodrome (Cronenberg), 182, 243
Vinton, Arthur, 68
Virilio, Paul, 129, 132, 134, 135, 138, 139,

175, 214n30
virtual reality, 28, 34, 118
Virtuosity (Leonard), 28, 118
Vonnegut, Kurt, 76
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (I. Allen),

98, 243

Waggner, George
Man Made Monster, 180, 235
Wolf Man, The, 184

War of the Worlds (Haskin), 48, 96, 143,
148, 243

Wasko, Janet, 217n2
Weller, Peter, 167
Wells, H. G., 3, 65, 67, 68, 70, 73, 75, 77, 80,

143, 146, 198
First Men in the Moon (novel), 80
Invisible Man, The (novel), 67
Island of Dr. Moreau (novel), 67
Shape of Things to Come, The (novel),

84
and Things to Come (Menzies film), 37,

84, 85, 125
Time Machine, The (novel), 67, 78
When the Sleeper Wakes (novel), 124

westerns, 6, 31, 45, 93, 200–01
Westworld (Crichton), 14, 103, 243
Whale, James, 180

Bride of Frankenstein, The, 110, 118, 227
Frankenstein, 5, 89, 112, 167, 180, 181–2,

211n37, 232
Invisible Man, The, 233

When Worlds Collide (Maté), 119, 243
White, Pearl, 90
Weir, Peter

Truman Show, The, 139
Witness, 193

Williamson, Jack, 70
Humanoids, The (novel), 75

Willow (Howard), 118
Wild Child, The (Truffaut),156
Wilson, Richard Guy, 81
Wise, Robert

Andromeda Strain, The, 108, 226
Day the Earth Stood Still, The, 12, 96, 97,

146, 229
Star Trek – The Motion Picture, 108, 239–

40
Witness (Weir), 193
Wolf Man, The (Waggner), 184
Woman in the Moon (Lang), 95, 99
World War II combat films, 6
Wright, Judith Hess, 40, 43, 206–7n31
Wright, Will, 31

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (Corman),
244

Yeaworth, Irwin S., Jr.
Blob, The, 227
Dinosaurus, 98
4D Man, The, 98

Zardoz (Boorman), 244
Zelig (W. Allen), 28
Zemeckis, Robert

Back to the Future, 46, 143, 226
Contact, 10, 143, 146
Forrest Gump, 28

Zombies of the Stratosphere (Brannon,
serial), 202, 244

I N D E X254 ❖

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