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A brief excursion into sci-fi cinema. Part 1

Published in the Random EN group
Once upon a time, self-driving cars, drones, mobile phones and supermarkets without cashiers were just a fantasy. In the modern world, we can see all these things with our own eyes thanks to dreamers out of touch with life, who read Clifford Simak and the Strugatsky brothers under the covers in childhood, and now work on the embodiment of the craziest ideas. For example, Elon Musk ranks the books of the famous science fiction writers Isaac Asimov, Douglas Adams and Robert Heinlein among his favorites. And another entrepreneur, Jeff Bezos, was inspired by ideas from a book by Neil Stevenson during the creation of the Kindle.

Not just a fantasy

Science fiction often offers the viewer alternative, sometimes more attractive realities than the real one. She takes him through different eras with the help of a time machine, opens the veil of the mysterious and inaccessible Cosmos with its possible other civilizations, attracts him with scientific and technological innovations in the form of artificial intelligence or virtual reality. Science fiction contains fantasy and what a person could not even think about.
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Science fiction has much in common with futurology - the science of predicting the future based on global economic, political and social trends. The fallacy of such predictions lies only in the fact that many futurologists expect social life and technology to develop exponentially. Science fiction writers like: Arthur C. Clarke, Stanislav Lem and Isaac Asimov are known not only as science fiction writers, but also as popularizers of science and futurists who wrote scientific articles.

Cinema Fantastico

Some directors were able to predict the advent of the mobile phone, Skype with video calling, the advent of tablet computers and the idea of ​​space tourism. Humans have not yet come into contact with extraterrestrial inhabitants, but we will assume that this is only because alien intelligences do not consider humanity ready for this. And in a few decades, no one will probably see a robot senator, a world tour of a hologram of Michael Jackson, or canoeing along the rivers of Mars. The development of science fiction was directly related to the events that took place in the real world and scientific and technological progress. After all, it was only with the help of new technologies that it was possible to embody the most successful directorial productions.

It all started with a trip to the moon

Georges Méliès' film A Trip to the Moon in 1902 is considered the pioneer of science fiction. He parodied the plots of the novels of HG Wells and Jules Verne, but the script, scenery and special effects belonged to the inventive mind of the director. Despite the short running time, the film was full of action. During the flight to the moon, the expedition managed to explore the craters, be captured by the "lunar inhabitants" and return back.


Original title: Metropolis Year: 1927 Directed by: Fritz Lang
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It is worth highlighting the dystopian drama "Metropolis". This is where the videophone first appears. The film takes place in the future, where society is divided into two parts - Paradise, where the upper classes of the inhabitants live, and Hell, in which industrial workers work for the benefit of the owners of the Upper level. The people of the Bottom are only an appendage to the machines, whose work will soon be automated. But is it such a dystopia? Germany was defeated by the First World War, deprived of part of the territory, oppressed by armed communists.

The Fifties: The Golden Age of Hollywood

But the real turn in the development of science fiction received in Hollywood in the 50s, where this movie was really in demand and profitable.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Original title: The Day The Earth Stood Still Year: 1951 Director: R. Wise
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The film became a reflection of the United States at the height of the Cold War with the USSR. An alien saucer arrives on Earth and a citizen of another planet reports the existence of a community of peaceful planets and issues an instruction according to which earthlings must conclude a peace treaty with all states or complete destruction of the planet will follow.
The alien makes it clear that the nuclear arms race, endless wars and strife on Earth interfere with peaceful coexistence with other inhabitants of the Universe and cause concern, because the “aggressive person” is trying to conquer not only foreign states, but also space. The film had a pacifist message and its creators hoped that they could influence the development of the young UN.

forbidden planet

Original title : Forbidden Planet Year: 1956 Director: Fred M. Wilcox
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"Forbidden Planet" has become a kind of continuation of the story. Mankind has already managed to land on the moon, to visit all the planets of the solar system. But this was not enough. People decided to colonize outer space. The inhabitants of the planet manage to exceed the speed of light, so an attempt is made to capture other planetary systems.
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The expedition goes to a new planet and, despite the warning of the security systems, remains there. In the very first year of acquaintance with the planet, it turns out that the alien race that lived here was several times more progressive in technical and moral development. Among them there was no inequality, crimes and diseases. Civilization was destroyed by a subconscious craving for destruction and hatred. The film was spiced with futuristic design, references to Shakespeare's The Tempest and electronic music, which was then new, so it became a real breakthrough in the genre.
... And yes, if you think that the text receding into the distance against the background of the stars is an invention of the director of Star Wars, watch the trailer for Forbidden Planet.


original name: Them! Year: 1954 Director: Gordon Douglas
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In the film "They", the director clearly demonstrates the possible negative consequences of nuclear weapons tests. Nuclear warheads appear as huge mutated ants that destroy everything in their path. A more realistic post-apocalyptic picture can be seen in The End of the World, where a nuclear war destroys the entire population of the northern hemisphere.

Body Snatcher Invasion

Original title: Invasion of the Body Snatchers Year: 1956 Director: Don Siegel The theme of the invasion of extraterrestrial civilizations was also popular. Some considered the film an allegory for the threat of Western communization. It became a cult classic and received several later remakes.
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It came from outer space

Original title: It Came from Outer Space Year: 1953 Director: Jack Arnold
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Another film, It Came From Outer Space, written by Ray Bradbury, was the first science fiction film in 3D technology. This is a story about the metamorphoses that happen to people under the influence of a fallen spaceship.


Several factors had a huge influence on the science fiction of the 60s: the natural craving of a person for the new and unknown, which was reflected in the exploration of space and the preparation of the United States for a flight to the moon, the ongoing Cold War and the war in Vietnam. The consequences of the nuclear threat to mankind have been reflected in the films:

planet of the apes

Original title: Planet of the Apes Year: 1968 Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
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The protagonist finds himself on an unknown planet inhabited by intelligent monkeys. But at some point, he bitterly realizes that he is not on another planet, but on Earth, in the distant future. Monkeys have evolved, and humans have taken their place. The world course of history begins a new cycle. The picture was a huge success, and subsequently many sequels and a remake were filmed, several comic books and video games were created based on the motifs.

Manchurian Candidate

Original title: The Manchurian Candidate Year: 1962 Director: John Frankenheimer
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The film is a political treatise about the confrontation between the US and Soviet soldiers during the Korean War.

Dr. Strangelove, or how I stopped being afraid and fell in love with the bomb

original title: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Year: 1964 Director: Stanley Kubrick
The film was shot in the spirit of black comedy. It saw the light a year after the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, so it's not surprising that it is literally riddled with criticism of US foreign policy and parodies anti-communist hysteria.

Space Odyssey 2001

Original title: 2001: A Space Odyssey Year: 1968 Director: Stanley Kubrick
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The most iconic film of this period was "A Space Odyssey 2001" by S. Kubrick. The basis is the story of one of the three great science fiction writers - Arthur C. Clarke. The title refers to Homer's poem about the wanderings of Odysseus. Also, a person is born and travels through this world in search of meaning and himself. Cinema raises the main questions of the universe: How did the Universe come into being? Who are we? Where do we come from and where are we going?
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The film depicts all stages of human development: the dawn of civilization and the huge progress in science, technology and space exploration. The appearance of the first silent monkey on the planet, the birth of tribes, the instincts of reproduction and self-preservation that arose as a result of interaction and hostility between them. The almost absence of dialogues, the beauty of the frame and the incompleteness of the plot are complemented by the classical symphonies of Strauss and Ligeti. The mysterious black monoliths that appear on the screen throughout the film deserve a separate topic.
At the same time, in Europe, due to social changes and the stratification of society, dystopias are becoming popular. "New Wave" covered the whole of Europe. The representatives were previously unknown young directors who in films resorted to criticizing the political sphere, mass culture, consumerism, exposing human vices. They were opposed to commercial films and resorted to a lot of experimentation with camera, light and imagery.

451 degrees Fahrenheit

Original title: Fahrenheit 451 Year: 1966 Director: Francois Truffaut
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This film, based on the novel by Ray Bradbury, describes a totalitarian system that prohibits literature that makes you think. As a result of the prohibition, a person becomes easier to manage. The protagonist follows this system and relies on her distorted ideals, taking them for his own. People, in whose houses books are found, to immediate liquidation, and libraries to burning.
Humanity ceases to think and feel, personal goals and values ​​are replaced by material goods. Human mouths are full of unnecessary words, and heads are empty. They speak for words, not for meaning and depth. They go to work, spend their evenings doing aimless activities like watching endless zombie series. The world is ruled by mass culture and lack of spirituality. But soon the protagonist of the film becomes disillusioned with the implanted ideals and joins a group of hermits for the benefit of the development of intellectual progress.


Year: 1956 Director: M. Anderson
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The film 1984 shows a bleak totalitarian future where all parties and ideologies are banned, except for one - the Big Brother party, which relentlessly follows people through a small television screen that cannot be turned off. No one can hide from the all-seeing eye. Any disobedience is severely punished. The main character works in the Ministry of Truth, which records any manifestations of disobedience and falsifies history. In his heart he hates the party and doubts the surrounding reality.
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Original title: Alphaville Year: 1965 Director: Jean-Luc Godard
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The heroes of Alphaville, the city of the future, where all human feelings and emotions are outlawed, found themselves in a similar situation. Poetry and romance are forbidden. The city is run by an insensitive computer system. This leads to alienation, permanent longing and isolation of the individual from society. But on this island of loneliness, a hero appears who is ready to change everything.
To be continued