The Sci-Fi Film Genre: Two Perspectives, Dead or Alive?
Is Ridley Scott Right About Sci-Fi?
The Blade Runner director declares the genre is ‘as dead as the Western’. Do you agree?
Sir Ridley Scott believes that the science fiction movie is a spent force; an extinct race; a decommis- sioned battlestar. Talking in Venice, where he was presenting another new cut of Blade Runner, the director declared the genre as dead as the western.
“There’s nothing original,” says Scott. “We’ve seen it all before. Been there. Done it.” Asked to pick out examples, he said: “All of them. Yes, all of them.”
Scott’s comparison of the two genres will not have been accidental. Both Westerns and science fiction deal in stories of heroic pioneers, fighting battles that act as parables for our own times. In the 70s when sci-fi flourished, interplanetary exploration – played out through the Cold War’s space race – must have seemed much more relevant to people’s everyday lives and concerns than the cowboy films they replaced.
Yet that hasn’t stopped great westerns like Unforgiven and Brokeback Mountain being made since, and it seems insane to write off an entire genre of films just because one generation of film-makers has moved on.
Sure, so most sci-fi movies are now adapted from comics rather than novels (let’s not even go near that hot potato), and get franchised and merchandised to within an inch of their genetic make-ups.
They might not always live up to the same intellectual and artistic heights that Scott and Kubrick’s best work in the genre achieved. Few films do. But the likes of Starship Troopers, Serenity – even Sunshine – tackle complex intellectual questions: they also understand that it’s also really cool to show stuff getting blown up.
And whatever the malaise among movie sci-fi, on the small screen the genre has never been in ruder health with Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and lots more to look forward to in the new TV season. So what do you think?
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If that’s true, then what should we think about this. . .
Dune Headed Back to the Big Screen?
Unless Toto is doing the soundtrack, we aren’t interested.
Dune has made a trip to the big screen before, of course, courtesy of director David Lynch in 1984. Lynch’s vision of Dune, however, was given a lukewarm critical and commercial reception; Roger Ebert, for instance, referred to it as “a real mess” and “an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.” In 2000 and 2003, the Sci-Fi Channel broadcast a new Dune and followed it up with Children of Dune, both of which were more warmly received than Lynch’s film, but were still found lacking by some fans.
Now, reports CHUD, the admin of the official Dune forums is telling fans that Herbert’s stories might be headed back to a theater near you. From the article:
“We’re getting VERY close to a deal. Heard that news today,” he posted on Friday, following that up with, “Although only rumor, I’ve heard that ‘someone’ at the studio wants Dune reallllly bad and has been a fan of the novel for ‘years.’ They’re not saying who this is (and it might just be hype) but I’m holding out hope that whoever this might be is a big enough fan that he/she will do the book justice. Supposedly it’s some director.”
As rumors go, it’s laughably vague — but there’s no denying that the major studios are all hungry for franchises, particularly of the sci-fi/fantasy variety, and Dune fits the bill neatly. With the right budget and “some director” behind the cameras, who knows what could happen?
For my .02 on the matter, click here for my essay. –D.
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