Went to a surprisingly interesting conference a few days ago. Entitled “The History of Science Fiction Movies” and organized by the public library, it made me realize that there a whole world out there such unknown to me! Bet this is a typical phrase of defining the sci-fi literature or movies, but I honestly didn’t intend to mean anything else than my sad conclusion that I don’t really know much about this kind of literature or movies.
And it is such a shame, I discovered. After this conference, I am now more than convinced than science fiction is as close to “real life”, sort to say, as any other kind of genre. It is actually very connected to the historical context and all the alternatives imaged in science fictional works are either criticism to a certain type of human activity that it is seen as damaging on the long run to the earth, either a attempt to question concepts such as what is a human being, where do we come from and where do you we go to. In certain moments on its timeline, science fiction reflects the identity crisis of the modern human being who feels alone and needs to explore alternatives.
The technological advances, the big economic crisis, the armed conflicts, all the industrial movements and political events, they all had a significant influence on the evolution of movie industry and on sci-fi movies and literature in particular. It is also widely considered that science fiction predicted major politic events or scientific discoveries. Take for instance, Things to Come (1936), considered one on of the most important films in the history of sci-fi, predicted the advent of the Second World War, presented human dependence on technology and imagined space travel. Or, The War of the Worlds, by Orson Wells in 1953 reflects the rivalry during the Cold War.
On the other hand, sci-fi genre reflects on existential matters, on human life and its future, about creation and ethics. The Planet of the Apes (1968) depicts a world of intelligent apes where man is enslaved and seen as “impossible to civilize”, Soleyn Green (1974) presents a world ravished by greenhouse effect and overpopulation that strives on living; Blade Runner in 1982 represents a shift of paradigm and presents the dilemma of what a human being is, just to give some examples.
On the next session of the conference, we will comment on Matrix and maybe on Blade Runner and I am more than anxious to see how that goes! Till next round, I’ve got some homework to do!