Science Fiction: Hate It or Love It?

I took a Science Fiction/Cold War class this quarter and loved it. I’m no hardcore Sci-Fi fan, but the films we watched in this class were so great! I had no idea so many Sci-Fi films and novels could be so relatable to the Cold War era and the ways in which the U.S. changed politically and socially through those decades…but aside from all that, Sci-Fi films can also be some great entertainment and food for thought.

I just feel like recommending a few for all you peeps out there. So, if you feel like embracing some “vintage” films and expanding your knowledge of Sci-Fi past Star Wars and Star Trek, I suggest taking a look at these:

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – directed by Stanley Kubrick 

(I’ll try to be brief) I can’t possibly put enough great screenshots from this film, but I will say its such a visually stunning film!!! and for 1968!?! I dunno…I thought it was crazy good and beautiful to watch. There are definitely a lot of scenes that seem like Kubrick is showing off the set design and “special effects” that made this film so cool.

The soundtrack is just as gorgeous and adds to the awe-inspiring visuals; I got chills during the “dawn of man” scene where the mysterious monolith-thing is first discovered…the music was that good.

I will warn you that the film might leave you feeling like your brain has melted, but I really liked how metaphoric and un-resolved the last parts were. If you don’t care to think too deeply about the questions the film raises, you can definitely watch it for the visual style!

Alien (1979) – directed by Ridley Scott

It IS kind of a “horror” film, but it is freaky in such a good way! This film, too, is visually AMAZING. H.R. Giger and the team of production design for this film totally deserved the 1980 Oscar for Visual Effects…the inside of their spaceship, the foreign spaceship and its interior, and the alien designs are all so terrifying & beautiful!!! I feel like the setting in this film is ominous enough to scare the audience without even having to show the real antagonist.

What’s interesting to think about in this film is how the alien is a “product” of the space crew and their duties/jobs, and it ends up becoming the thing that threatens their well-being and lives…this sort of “alienation” from what a worker produces in industry is kind of what we talked about in class with the film. Sigourney Weaver (pictured above) also evokes the image of the new, working, leader-type woman that was on the rise in American society in the 60’s and 70’s.

Bladerunner (1982) – directed by Ridley Scott

Okay, so ALSO very visually stunning and well-done, as far as the set design and cinematography go. This one is more of a Science Fiction/Film-Noir type, complete with a bluesy-jazz soundtrack, a murder-mystery, and a smoking femme fatale. It’s definitely got some of that 80’s cheesiness in it, but it was still fun to watch. The film raises questions of what it means to be truly human and what defines us as such…the antagonists of the film certainly voice some existential concerns and questions, since they’re android-like beings and are being hunted down for murder by Harrison Ford’s character, the blade runner.

There, that was as brief as I could get for recommending 3 films in 1 post. Let me know if YOU have any recommendations for a cool SF film.