Examples of this are Frankenstein , a film adaptation of Mary Shelley 's novel, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , based on the psychological tale by Robert Louis Stevenson. In the s, European filmmakers tended to use science fiction for prediction and social commentary, as can be seen in German films such as Metropolis and Frau im Mond Other notable science fiction films of the silent era include The Impossible Voyage , The Motorist , The Conquest of the Pole , Himmelskibet ; which with its runtime of 97 minutes generally is considered the first feature-length science fiction film in history ,  The Cabinet of Dr.
In the s, there were several big budget science fiction films, notably Just Imagine , King Kong , Things to Come , and Lost Horizon Starting in , a number of science fiction comic strips were adapted as serials , notably Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers , both starring Buster Crabbe.
These serials, and the comic strips they were based on, were very popular with the general public. Other notable science fiction films of the s include Frankenstein , Bride of Frankenstein , Doctor X , Dr. Hyde , F. Cyclops , The Devil Commands , Dr. The release of Destination Moon and Rocketship X-M brought us to what many people consider "the golden age of the science fiction film". In the s, public interest in space travel and new technologies was great.
While many s science fiction films were low-budget B movies , there were several successful films with larger budgets and impressive special effects. There is often a close connection between films in the science fiction genre and the so-called " monster movie ". Examples of this are Them! During the s, Ray Harryhausen , protege of master King Kong animator Willis O'Brien, used stop-motion animation to create special effects for the following notable science fiction films: It Came from Beneath the Sea , Earth vs. The most successful monster movies were kaiju films released by Japanese film studio Toho.
Science fiction film
Japanese science fiction films, particularly the tokusatsu and kaiju genres, were known for their extensive use of special effects , and gained worldwide popularity in the s. Kaiju and tokusatsu films, notably Warning from Space , sparked Stanley Kubrick 's interest in science fiction films and influenced A Space Odyssey According to his biographer John Baxter , despite their "clumsy model sequences, the films were often well-photographed in colour Any movie featuring realistic space travel was at risk of being obsolete at its time of release, rather fossil than fiction.
There were relatively few science fiction films in the s, but some of the films transformed science fiction cinema. Stanley Kubrick 's A Space Odyssey brought new realism to the genre, with its groundbreaking visual effects and realistic portrayal of space travel and influenced the genre with its epic story and transcendent philosophical scope. Other s films included Planet of the Vampires by Italian filmmaker Mario Bava , that is regarded as one of the best movies of the period, Planet of the Apes and Fahrenheit , which provided social commentary, and the campy Barbarella , which explored the sillier side of earlier science fiction.
Jean-Luc Godard 's French "new wave" film Alphaville posited a futuristic Paris commanded by an artificial intelligence which has outlawed all emotion. The era of manned trips to the Moon in and the s saw a resurgence of interest in the science fiction film. Andrei Tarkovsky 's slow-paced Solaris and philosophical Stalker are two widely acclaimed examples of the renewed interest of film auteurs in science fiction. Science fiction films from the early s explored the theme of paranoia, in which humanity is depicted as under threat from sociological, ecological or technological adversaries of its own creation, such as George Lucas 's directional debut THX , The Andromeda Strain , Silent Running , Soylent Green , Westworld and its sequel Futureworld , and Logan's Run Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind were box-office hits that brought about a huge increase in science fiction films.
In , Star Trek: The Motion Picture brought the television series to the big screen for the first time. Ridley Scott 's films, such as Alien and Blade Runner , along with James Cameron 's The Terminator , presented the future as dark, dirty and chaotic, and depicted aliens and androids as hostile and dangerous. In contrast, Steven Spielberg 's E. Clarke 's sequel to , , were box office failures that dissuaded producers from investing in science fiction literary properties.
Disney's Tron turned out to be a moderate success. The strongest contributors to the genre during the second half of the s were James Cameron and Paul Verhoeven with The Terminator and RoboCop entries. Robert Zemeckis ' film Back to the Future and its sequels were critically praised and became box office successes, not to mention international phenomena. The Japanese anime film Akira also had a big influence outside Japan when released. In the s, the emergence of the World Wide Web and the cyberpunk genre spawned several movies on the theme of the computer-human interface, such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day , Total Recall , The Lawnmower Man , and The Matrix Other themes included disaster films e.
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As the decade progressed, computers played an increasingly important role in both the addition of special effects thanks to Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park and the production of films. As software developed in sophistication it was used to produce more complicated effects. It also enabled filmmakers to enhance the visual quality of animation, resulting in films such as Ghost in the Shell from Japan, and The Iron Giant from the United States. During the first decade of the s, superhero films abounded, as did earthbound science fiction such as the Matrix trilogy.
Science-fiction also returned as a tool for political commentary in films such as A. The s also saw the release of Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen , both of which resulted in worldwide box office success. In , James Cameron 's Avatar garnered worldwide box office success, and would later become the highest-grossing movie of all time. This movie was also an example of political commentary. It depicted humans destroying the environment on another planet by mining for a special metal called unobtainium.
That same year, Terminator Salvation was released and garnered only moderate success. The s has seen new entries in several classic science fiction franchises, including Predators , Tron: Legacy , a resurgence of the Star Wars series, and entries into the Planet of the Apes and Godzilla franchises.
The superhero film boom has also continued, into films such as Iron Man 2 and 3 , several entries into the X-Men film series , and The Avengers , which became the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time. New franchises such as Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy have also begun in this decade. Further into the decade, more realistic science fiction epic films have also become prevalent, including Gravity , Elysium , Interstellar , Mad Max: Fury Road , The Martian , Arrival , Passengers , and Blade Runner Many of these films have gained widespread accolades, including several Academy Award wins and nominations.
These films have addressed recent matters of scientific interest, including space travel, climate change, and artificial intelligence. Alongside these original films, many adaptations have been produced, especially within the young adult dystopian fiction subgenre, popular in the early part of the decade. Independent productions have also increased in the s, with the rise of digital filmmaking making it easier for amateur filmmakers to produce movies.
Science fiction films are often speculative in nature, and often include key supporting elements of science and technology. However, as often as not the "science" in a Hollywood science fiction movie can be considered pseudo-science, relying primarily on atmosphere and quasi-scientific artistic fancy than facts and conventional scientific theory.
The definition can also vary depending on the viewpoint of the observer. Many science fiction films include elements of mysticism, occult , magic, or the supernatural , considered by some to be more properly elements of fantasy or the occult or religious film.
The movie Forbidden Planet employs many common science fiction elements, but the film carries a profound message - that the evolution of a species toward technological perfection in this case exemplified by the disappeared alien civilization called the "Krell" does not ensure the loss of primitive and dangerous urges. Some films blur the line between the genres, such as films where the protagonist gains the extraordinary powers of the superhero. These films usually employ quasi-plausible reason for the hero gaining these powers.
Not all science fiction themes are equally suitable for movies. Science fiction horror is most common. Often enough, these films could just as well pass as Westerns or World War II films if the science fiction props were removed. Film theorist Vivian Sobchack argues that science fiction films differ from fantasy films in that while science fiction film seeks to achieve our belief in the images we are viewing, fantasy film instead attempts to suspend our disbelief. The science fiction film displays the unfamiliar and alien in the context of the familiar.
Despite the alien nature of the scenes and science fictional elements of the setting, the imagery of the film is related back to mankind and how we relate to our surroundings. While the science fiction film strives to push the boundaries of the human experience, they remain bound to the conditions and understanding of the audience and thereby contain prosaic aspects, rather than being completely alien or abstract.
Genre films such as westerns or war movies are bound to a particular area or time period.
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This is not true of the science fiction film. However, there are several common visual elements that are evocative of the genre. These include the spacecraft or space station, alien worlds or creatures, robots, and futuristic gadgets. While science is a major element of this genre, many movie studios take significant liberties with scientific knowledge.
Such liberties can be most readily observed in films that show spacecraft maneuvering in outer space. The vacuum should preclude the transmission of sound or maneuvers employing wings, yet the soundtrack is filled with inappropriate flying noises and changes in flight path resembling an aircraft banking.
The filmmakers, unfamiliar with the specifics of space travel , focus instead on providing acoustical atmosphere and the more familiar maneuvers of the aircraft. Similar instances of ignoring science in favor of art can be seen when movies present environmental effects as portrayed in Star Wars and Star Trek. Entire planets are destroyed in titanic explosions requiring mere seconds, whereas an actual event of this nature takes many hours. The role of the scientist has varied considerably in the science fiction film genre, depending on the public perception of science and advanced technology.
Frankenstein , the mad scientist became a stock character who posed a dire threat to society and perhaps even civilization. Certain portrayals of the "mad scientist", such as Peter Sellers 's performance in Dr. Strangelove , have become iconic to the genre. Reflecting the distrust of government that began in the s in the United States, the brilliant but rebellious scientist became a common theme, often serving a Cassandra -like role during an impending disaster.
Biotechnology e. Cybernetics and holographic projections as depicted in RoboCop and I, Robot are also popularized. Interstellar travel and teleportation is a popular theme in the Star Trek series that is achieved through warp drives and transporters while intergalactic travel is popular in films such as Stargate and Star Wars that is achieved through hyperspace or wormholes. Nanotechnology is also featured in the Star Trek series in the form of replicators utopia , in The Day the Earth Stood Still in the form of grey goo dystopia , and in Iron Man 3 in the form of extremis nanotubes.
Force fields is a popular theme in Independence Day while invisibility is also popular in Star Trek. Arc reactor technology, featured in Iron Man , is similar to a cold fusion device. The late Arthur C. Clarke 's third law states that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Past science fiction films have depicted "fictional" "magical" technologies that became present reality. Gesture recognition in the movie Minority Report is part of current game consoles.