Film Genres | Science Fiction (Sci-Fi) Films
The typical science fiction movie has a form as predicable as a Western and is made up of elements that are classic
as the saloon brawl, the blond schoolteacher from the East, and the gun duel on the deserted main street.
Sci-fi films are about disaster.
Here disaster is not viewed intensively, its always extensive.
Thus the science fiction movie is concerned with the aesthetics of destruction , with the peculiar beauties to be found
in wreaking havoc, making a mess. And it is in the imagery of destruction that the core of a good sci-fi movie lies.
These movies supply extreme moral simplification - that is to say, a morally acceptable fantasy where one can give outlet to cruel
or at least amoral feelings. In this respect these movies overlap with horror movies.
This is the undeniable pleasure we derive from looking at freaks. The sense of superiority over the freak conjoined in varying proportions with the titillation of fear and aversion makes it possible for moral scruples to be lifted, for cruelty to be enjoyed.
Science fiction movies are one of the purest forms of spectacle, that is, we are rarely inside anyone's feelings.
Things, objects, machinery play a major role in these films.
A greater range of ethical values is embodied in the decor of these movies than in the people.
According to sci-fi movies man is naked without his artifacts. THEY stand for different values, they are potent ,
they are what get destroyed, and they are in the indispensable tools for the repulse of the alien invaders or the repair
of the damaged environment.
Science fiction movies are strongly moralistic.
The standard message is the humane use of science verses the obsessional use of science.
Alongside the hopeful fantasy of moral simplification and international unity embodied in these movies lurk
the deepest anxieties about contemporary existence.
I don't mean only the very real trauma of the Bomb.
These movies can also be described as a popular mythology for the contemporary negative imagination about the impersonal.
The other-world creatures that seek to take "us" over are an "it," not a "they."
The planetary invaders are usually "zombie-like," if they are human in form (dressed in space suits) then they obey most rigid military discipline, and display no personal characteristics whatsoever.
And it is this regime of emotionlessness, of impersonality, of regimentation, which they will impose on the earth if they are successful. This theme of dehumanization is maybe the most fascinating.
The attitude of the science fiction movies toward it is mixed.
On one hand, they deplore it as the ultimate horror. On the other hand, certain characteristics of the dehumanized invaders,
modulated and disguised - such as the ascendancy of reason over feelings,
the idealization of teamwork and the consensus-creating activities of science,
a marked degree of moral simplification - are precisely traits of the savior-scientist.
There is absolutely no social criticism, of even the most implicit kind, in the sci-fi movies.
No criticism of the conditions of our society which create the impersonality and dehumanization
which science fiction fantasies displace onto the influence of an alien IT.