Sci-Fi: Is there Fantasy in Your Science?

         The below list is the films I have actually seen from < the Top 50 sci-fi titles of all time. Based on this alone I feel I am definitely qualified to write on this genre. I have been married for twenty-five years to an electrical computer engineer, who is your classic example of a dyed in the wool nerd. He has single handily made me watch each and every one of these sometime willingly many times not, plus a great deal more that did even make the list like Dune (1984).

Jurassic Park (1993) 49

The Iron Giant (1999) 46

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 45

Iron Man (2008) 43

Man from Earth (2007) 38

Solyaris (1972) 37

Young Frankenstein (1974) 36

Night of the Living Dead (1968) 33

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) 32

Planet of the Apes (1968) 31

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 30

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) 29

Stalker (1979) 27

Children of Men (2006) 26

Frankenstein (1931) 25

King Kong (1933) 24

Twelve Monkeys (1995) 23

The Terminator (1984) 21

Star Trek (2009) 20

The Thing (1982) 19

Donnie Darko (2001) 17

The War Game (1965) 16

Blade Runner (1982) 14

Avatar (2009) 12

Back to the Future (1985) 11

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 10

Metropolis (1927) 9

Aliens (1986) & Alien (1979)5

A Clockwork Orange (1971) 7

WALL·E(2008) 6

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 4

The Matrix (1999) 3

Star Wars (1977) 2

Star Wars: Episode-The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 1

When I was going over this list, I was so surprised by just how much I have watched this genre. And by how diverse this genre is, not to mention, this is one genre that spans the entire lifetime of film making.

         The majority of these films have nothing besides the genre in common the feature different actors and actresses, different directors, different themes, different time periods. Sci-fi films can be robots, space creatures, the future, time travel… But yet all are sci-fi films why? What makes a film be a sci-fi genre? By definition sci-fi films are speculative science based depictions of things/ideas/ concepts/ phenomena not accepted by mainstream science. Science fiction films often have used a focus on political, social issues, and the human condition. Science fiction often expresses the potential of technology to destroy humankind lab bred germs that can destroy human kind, genetic engineering, cloning and black hole exploration. (Strangely we have the real science to do some of these things now!) Sci-fi films are complete with heroes & villains, distant unknown imagined planets, impossible quests, improbable settings, fantastic places, futuristic technology, science and gizmos.

         In many cases, older written science fiction stories may be used by film makers ignorant of or at best indifferent to the standards of scientific plausibility and plot logic to, which written science fiction is traditionally held. This many times causes problems with the diehard sci-fi fans, who like pure true science in their fantasy science. This has been the fodder for many debates in sci-fi fan conventions for decades. This believe it or not is where I think many film makers form the concepts for their series and sequels.

         For all the fuss sci-fi has been around since 1902. The film A Trip to the Moon (French: Le Voyage dans la lune) is a French black and white silent science fiction film. It is loosely based on two popular novels of the time: From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne and The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells, which I have ironically seen several times. I do not know why other than it is the very first know sci-fi film. This film oddly portrays going to the moon, which was fantasy at the time but during my lifetime became reality. I wonder how many of the sci-fi topic will end out becoming the beginning concepts to actual scientific facts?

         Sci-fi is in my opinion primarily fantasy film and can easily tip over into horror films, such as happens with The Fly (1958 &1986). That is one movie story that always gives me the willies. Plus, there are so many films that are sci-fi and a bit something else like it a sci-fi romance or it a sci-fi adventure action, or any of a large range of blends that keep audiences guessing and never quite knowing what they will see when they go to a sci-fi flick. An example of a romantic sci-fi would be the forbidden love of Anakin and Padme in Star Wars Episode II-Attack of the Clones (2008). For an older example, consider Star Man (1984) for some human extra-terrestrial interaction, love and romance, not to mention he left a hybrid love child with Jenny when he returns home; which sets the audience up for the story to continue in the future. Avatar was an example of this hybrid sci-fi movie; I never expected such plot from a 3-d sci-fi movie. In one movie there was romance, human-condition, and social issues. And exactly how many sub genres are there? Soft Sci-fi, hard sci-fi, time travel, alternative history/dimension, super human, military sci-fi… so basically almost anything is a sub-genre of sci-fi.

         The Sci-fi genre is so broad it becomes difficult to decide what is and what not a science fiction movie is. According to science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, "a handy short definition of almost all science fiction might read: 'realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method'" ( Rod Serling's definition is "fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible." Experts that did not clear anything up at all so we are right back where we started What is sc-fi? It is the realm where our imaginations meet the plausible possible and some really fabulous entertaining film results.

Work Cited

Alice Bradshaw

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