Attack of the Science Fiction Film!

        I have always been a big fan of science fiction, but the unfortunate side effect of that affection is the association with geekiness. Okay, I would call myself a geek, just not to the extent some would think of when calling someone a geek, as in obsessive ness, going to conventions, arguing on minutiae, etc. You get the idea. The best science fiction is not about outlandish alien get-ups and make-up of strange worlds and creatures, but about social commentary-or in some way showing another view of the world we DO live in.

         Look at Metropolis and its look at the drone of factory work or on how industrialization can make people merely hands, and that individuality is worth fighting for. In fact, individuality and expression is a very common sci-fi trend. Leap forward to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the original, directed in 1956 by Don Siegel, as it comments on a world of fear, the red scare, and the loss of one's identity. Look at 1984, the Orwellian story made as a film in 1984, directed by Michael Radford, which was based on the entries of Winston Smith's diary. It is a world of oppression of a boot stamping on a human face forever loss of language, of art, of love. As for V for Vendetta, directed by James McTeigue in 2005, very much of Orwellian lineage, and its commentary of our current culture, sometimes it takes the view of a fantasy, an allegory, to have our current world seen in a proper light.

         Do not get me wrong, as I love Star Wars; but it is to blame for some modern perception of science fiction--well, not entirely. The era that gave us Invasion of the Body Snatchers gave us any number of cheesy sci-fi flicks. The perception of sci-fi or horror has always been in line with a negative perception because of the bad examples. But Star Wars is not even all about the fantasy, but a morality tale. I hope, though, that people can see the intelligence of a smart, intellectual kind of science fiction. Consider, for example, The Day The Earth Stood Still, directed by Robert Wise in 1951; 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1968; Solaris, directed by Steven Soderbergh in 2002; or any number of films and styles that enlighten the human condition and current allure, not just some terrible Star Trek type of show of bad make-up. I like good fun, but not at sacrifice of intelligence of rationale, and seeing I, Robot made into an action vehicle is not happy tidings for this sci-fi fan. I do like some X-Men, and am looking forward to Danny Boyle's latest or Minority Report (2002), Close Encounters, (1997), ET, (1982), A.I. (2001)--Spielberg knows how to do sci-fi).

         Let us just hope the blockbuster mentality never strikes the material that is provoking or engaging (as I hope that A Scanner Darkly, directed by Richard Linklater in 2006 and starring Keanu Reeves, will be): "Here's to the future!"

Jesse Gilstrap

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