Wednesday, December 11, 2013

weeks eight, nine, ten, eleven

week eight - film reviews [and] reading seven - key points

Blade Runner - The Final Cut, 2007 (1982), 177 minutes, USA, Director Ridley Scott
     One of the prevalent considerations amongst the characters of the 2007 cut of Blade Runner is the manner in which a being can be identified as a replicant or not. With memories implanted, it’s interesting to see the manner in which replicants carry themselves and respond to moral based scenarios, as tested by blade runners. As sophisticated as Rachael is as a replicant, it’s an interesting thought that she may not only be the only indistinguishable replicant in existence. After viewing the film, there’s an interesting following of the film that has come to believe that Rick Deckard is indeed a replicant as well. The character is very stoic throughout the film, and although this may be a result of the manner of his profession, it almost gives off an anti-personal presence as well, similar to those of a replicant. Additionally, he develops a strong connection with Rachael that outweighs his relationships with other humans, which could solely be on the basis of lust, but more interestingly could be a recognition that he himself understands the feeling of recognizing that you are not real and have a minimalized existence harvested on someone else’s thoughts.  Additionally, Deckard is threatened into taking the position of blade runner up by his former employer. The threats that Harry Bryant articulates are extremely brief and hold a series of personal references as well, but the threat level could be the fear of actual “retirement” if Deckard truly is a replicant himself.

Total Recall, 1990, 113 minutes, USA, Director Paul Verhoeven
     When viewing the 1990 film, Total Recall, one of the prevailing concepts of the film is its ability to mask the integrity of its characters and create a world inside of a world. The film does not present the storyline blatantly, but layers begin to shed as a viewer progresses through the film. Quaid, the protagonist of the work, is placed in a state of nostalgia, where he is lacking an ability to, "[engage] with 'real history'. He therefore finds a fundamental 'incompatibility of a postmodernist nostalgia and language with genuine historicity,'" (Landsberg, pg. 240). This sense of nostalgia presents itself on a number of accounts as Quaid attempts to discover his real past, which a viewer learns has already been manipulated a number of years previous to the start of the film. This concept is continually visited throughout the film—a longing for something that cannot be articulated because there is an uncertainty as to what the desire is. This concept also poses the concern that the individuals living in this not-so-far-off futuristic society are living in a state of constant fear, as they are unable to distinguish the difference between real and artificial memories, whether within themselves or those around them.  

one, Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner by Alison Landsberg
  • "By prosthetic memories I mean memories which do not come from a person's lived experience in any strict sense. These are implanted memories, and the unsettled  boundaries between real and simulated ones are frequently accompanied by another disruption: of the human body, its flesh, its subjective autonomy, its difference from both the animal and the technological," (Landsberg, pg. 239).
  • "Nostalgia instead of engaging with 'real history'. He therefore finds a fundamental 'incompatibility of a postmodernist nostalgia and language with genuine historicity,'" (Landsberg, pg. 240).
week nine - film reviews [and] reading eight - key points

Ender's Game, 2013, 114 minutes, USA, Director Gavin Hood
     Upon viewing the 2013 book-to-film adaptation of Ender’s Game in theaters, what lingered with me was how physically disassociated, but virtually engaged the characters were. Although a “war” has been acknowledged and the objective of each student’s training is to prepare them to command as an officer, there’s a disconnection between the commander and their fleet. The definition of war is, "a coherent sequence of conflicts, involving physical combats between large organized groups of people that include the armed forces of at least one State, which aim to exercise political and economic control over a given territory," (Suvin, pg. 116). Meanwhile, the conflicts of the film are viewed by their commanders in the manner of a game, whether they know what they’re participating in is a simulation or not. Throughout the film, Ender’s participation with virtual games carries more weight than those of physicality. What remains with him as he progresses through school are the scenarios that are placed before him on his personalized computer or class simulations, as opposed to the physical games that each detachment is required to participate in. Though features of these games, such as that of the mouse and poison, are dictated by the player’s emotional state and are not programmed, they leave a larger mark on the character. With minimal physical activity and conflict throughout the film, it places a viewer in an interesting disposition as this is the very opposite of warfare in the world that we coexist with. It also sheds light on the impact that virtual reality (represented by video games) can leave on today’s younger population, as there’s a clearer slate to embed strategy and purpose within.

Starship Troopers, 1997, 119 minutes, Director Paul Verhoeven
     After viewing the 1997 film Starship Troopers, there’s an unsettling but prideful impression left upon a viewer. Although the film identifies two different species that are in opposition of one another, it does not leave a viewer with a definite resolution. The film displays that the battle has come to an end and there’s a better understanding of the enemies strategy and thought process, but it only brings a viewer to the end of the campaign and the placement of each main character within the military force. This implication leaves a viewer curious as to what the outcomes of proceeding events may have been —whether all of their hard work was successful or for not —and an uneasiness in not knowing the end result. Although a discomfort in the unknown is provided, it allows a viewer the opportunity to dissect and explore the work in mediums such as fan-fictions. This investigation allows for the viewer to create an ending that will satisfy the meaning in the film that they desire, meanwhile preventing the feeling of being cheated from the work. Additionally, war is rather probable and a single campaign can be highly influential to the overall picture of combat, so this method would also allow for viewers to explore different scenarios. Whether a viewer decides to interpret the work as it is or continue to explore it on an individual basis, one thing is certain—the characters that propel the film forward represent a wide range of personalities, which lead to a large pool of individuals for viewers to identify with. Whether physically fit or technology-savvy, there’s a character present that a viewer can see themselves in.

two, Of Starship Troopers and Refuseniks by Darko Suvin
  • "[Definition of war] a coherent sequence of conflicts, involving physical combats between large organized groups of people that include the armed forces of at least one State, which aim to exercise political and economic control over a given territory," (Suvin, pg. 116).
  • "...words on the paradoxical relationship of war to political economy and production of goods. On one hand, "A simple definition of warrior might be a person who survives by taking what others have or have produced" ... yet on another, from the inception of the modern state and market, wars have always been "the greatest and the most profitable of investments," (Suvin, pg. 117).
  • "'The direct cultural value of a warlike business policy is unequivocal. It makes for a conservative animus on the part of the populace. During wartime, and within military organization at all times, civil rights are in abeyance ... [T]he members of the community [will] ... learn to think in warlike terms of rank, authority, and subordination, and to grow progressively more patient of encroachments on their civil rights ... Warfare, with the stress on subordination and master and the insistence on gradations of dignity and honor ... has always proved an effective school in barbarian methods of thought,'" (Suvin, pg. 118).
  • "[On corpus] the first delimitation is to focus on the last sixty years—in which we today inevitably read premonitions of, and sometimes resistances to ... The second delimitation is for me to focus on literary fictions rather than on TV [and other media]—which may be more important as immediate shapers of people's minds ... The third delimitation is to focus on U.S. science fiction, as befits and hugely dominant position of the United States-based warfare and military, as well as analyses of either," (Suvin, pg. 120).
  • "[On U.S. science fiction] At one extreme is, then, the stance that mass slaughters, with all weapons imaginable and regardless of the military-civilian divide, and a concomitant militarization of scoiety are inevitable for the salvation of the commonwealth and should therefore be envisaged in spread between sad necessity and cynical glee ... At the other extreme is the stance that while dangers and lures of mass warfare and militarization are real and have deep systemic roots, they out to be resisted in all possible ways because the commonwealth would thereby either not be saved and.or would be corrupted into something not worth saving," (Suvin, pg. 122).
  • "Clear thinking [about war prevention] becomes more at a premium than ever, plus the need for the clear-thinkers to write it all down and teach it to others. False models of thinking about each other, of human beings who are in conflict, are as deadly as false-maps to the tactician ... the anti-war thought that I've encountered in both fiction and real life has been so far too much addicted to feelings and not enough to convincing analysis. (Lois Bujold)," (Suvin, pg. 135).
  • "No doubt, this constitution was enabled by the fact that the salaried are "the assistants of authority" ... but no authority can abide without their assistance. We share to an exasperated degree the tug-of-war between wage labor and self-determination ... In a living contradiction, we are essential to the encadrement and policing of workers, but we are ourselves workers," (Suvin, pg. 137).
week ten - film reviews [and] reading nine - key points

Trekkies, 1997, 86 minutes, USA, Director Roger Nygard
     Upon viewing the 1997 documentary film Trekkies, the culture behind fandoms and their inhabitants were not only exposed universally, but more importantly, these individuals were accurately represented. For fans of these immense universes, it isn't just a matter of enjoying the overall plot and compilation of characters, but it’s moreover about the morals and manner in which these carry themselves. This behavior can be so influential that a viewer’s demeanor may change and reflect those of the fandom, causing a crossover from one’s fantasy to their reality. Of course, there are different levels that this “behavior” can be adapted to, and in the case of Trekkies, the greatest extreme is exemplified. In the essay Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten by Henry Jenkins III, Jenkins explains how, “For these fans, Star Trek is not simply something that can be reread; it is something that can and must be rewritten in order to make it more responsive to their needs, in order to make it a better producer of personal meanings and pleasures," (Jenkins, pg. 265). Jenkins describes how for many fans, there is a sense of dissatisfaction that occurs with the end of a saga. In order for it to maintain in its integrity and values, it must be adapted and to some extent recreated—providing fans with the opportunity to make the saga into what they need at that particular given point in time. For many fans, this results in the development in fan fictions, assembling with others to commemorate the saga, or even the creation of episodes to understand the sets, commemorate the characters, or explore a concept that was not yet touched on in the saga. Trekkies displays each of these behaviors and the immense amount of dedication and love that is poured into such topics; meanwhile explains the communities that have been developed that both support and critique such developments.

Fanboys, 2009, 90 minutes, Director Kyle Newman
     After viewing the 2009 film Fanboys, I couldn’t help but to reflect upon myself. I know that these reviews are to be subjective and referring to oneself isn’t always the best route to take, but I just couldn’t help myself in this case. Some may view the work as being extremely exaggerated, but it was spot on with the feelings that some areas of sci-fi have led individuals to experience. As someone who grew up on comic books, LARPing, and a vocabulary that makes absolute sense on an RPG forum but not in the “real world,” I could almost see my friends and I assuming the roles of the characters that were present in the film. There comes a point where one may become so consumed by a film, video game, or television show that these mediums begin to alter not only their identity, but also their reality. Even as someone who hasn’t picked up a sword in six years, the vocabulary that I used to communicate with my companions has managed to embed itself so deeply that it has affected my character as a person to the point that I still catch myself making sound effects when I’m performing the smallest of tasks (like putting a cap on a pen or breaking down boxes to recycle them). Several of the concerns that arise with such an environment are presented in the film, from the fear of finding out who you’re actually talking to on a forum site, to the transitional period where one grows out of the art. Even as one digresses away from being engulfed in the phenomenon, it’s something that is never forgotten, and this film is able to articulate each perspective adequately.

three, Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten by Henry Jenkins III
  • "For these fans, Star Trek is not simply something that can be reread; it is something that can and must be rewritten in order to make it more responsive to their needs, in order to make it a better producer of personal meanings and pleasures," (Jenkins, pg. 265).
  • "Lorrah's description blurs all boundaries between producers and consumers, spectators and participants, the commercial ant the home crafted, to construct an image of fandom as a cultural and social network that spans the globe," (Jenkins, pg. 266).
  • "...many fan writers characterise themselves as 'repairing the damage' caused by the program's inconsistent and often demeaning treatment of its female characters ... telling such stories requires the stripping away of stereotypically feminine traits," (Jenkins, pg. 270-271).
  • "It should not be forgotten, however, that fan writing involves a translation of personal response into a social expression and that fans, like any other interpretive community, generate their own normals that work to insure a reasonable degree of conformity between readings of the primary text ... moreover, the strange mixture of fascination and frustration characteristic of fan response means that fans continue to respect the creators of the original series, even as they wish to rework some program materials to better satisfy their personal interest," (Jenkins, pg. 275).
  • "Producers insist upon their right to regulate what their texts may mean and what types of pleasure they can produce. Yet, such remarks carry little weight. Undaunted by the barking dogs, the 'no trespassing' signs and the threats of prosecution, the fans already have poached those texts from under the proprietors' noses," (Jenkins, pg. 279).
week eleven - film reviews [and] reading ten - key points

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 2013, USA, Director Francis Lawrence
     After viewing the 2013 book-to-film rendition of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it’s interesting to see the character development of Katniss throughout the film. As an individual who isn’t keen on making friends, or at the very least being favorable in a crowd, she is placed in a handful of situations throughout the film that forces her to relinquish control and trust those around her. This is apparent from the alliance that was set forth by her advisor, and additionally by her gut feeling to affiliate herself with those who utilize their knowledge as opposed to their physique.  Although the character surrenders control and order over several occasions, she remains true to her character and hesitates about the intent of those around her. She shows an inability to put her faith in the hands of another being(s) when the environment is fixated with the idea of survival of the fittest. As a theme of the work, it is reiterated throughout the film to remember who the real enemy is. The enemy is depicted as an extremely wealthy, capitalistic society that utilizes the mortality of the characters for their benefit —the benefit being comic relief through means of reality television. Meanwhile, each district is struggling through poverty and control by this society, as well as the disheartening deed of sacrificing their young to the “cause.” The paradoxes that are formulated are quite applicable to the world that is lived in today, where the wealthy continue to take from the poor, although the poor has little to nothing to give. The film does an excellent job in allowing the viewer to realize this on their own and understand how applicable the struggles the characters within the film are in comparison to our own societies.

Another Earth, 2011, USA, Director Mike Cahill
     When viewing the 2011 independent film Another Earth, the component of the film that resonated with me was the manner in which morals were incorporated. There’s an interesting contrast present in the work. Although considered a science fiction film, the film has eloquently portrayed everyday life. With the familiar set forth, the idea of another earth being present in the vicinity isn’t as farfetched or ludicrous as one would think. Another consideration that truly grounds the concept to being something believable is the fact that the individuals inhabiting “Earth 2” take on a humanistic form as well. They’re depicted in a similar manner, carrying out many of the same activities as their counterparts on Earth, such as that of the woman who had made the initial contact with the planet over the news. Although the two Earth’s are “identical” in their physical states, the film carries a much heavier theme. The two worlds are similar to the concept of a choose-your-own quest, where many of the paths are similar between two beings, but not all. An example is the protagonist, Rhoda, who at the end views her second self outside of her front door on Earth 1. In one role, you have Rhoda after a long day at work as a custodian as a result of her felony, and in contrast is the prestige Rhoda who had the opportunity to attend a university and progress through her life as anticipated. Though the two characters are the same, they aren’t identical in their experiences. This is the phenomenon that breaks the work away from everyday life into the genre of science fiction. Secondly, this phenomenon provides a sense of hope for some, such as John, who had lost his family on Earth 1 due to Rhoda’s unawareness one the road as a minor. For him, there’s a sense of hope on Earth 2 to rediscover what had been previously taken from him; a second chance that is not applicable, but often times desired in real life.

four, Hunger Games review by Andrew O'Hehir
  • "Panem, the deep-future dictatorship that has apparently replaced present-day America after an unspecified combination of civil war, social meltdown and ecological catastrophe, has the semiotic appearance of fascism – white-helmeted storm troopers and barbed-wire walls – but is really more like an old-fashioned feudal society, concerned entirely with maintaining its internal order."
five, Hunger Games review by Manohla Dargis
  • "Like most cultural sensations, which invariably owe part of their success to their recognizability (familiarity breeds revenue), “The Hunger Games” builds on stories deep in our collective databanks, from the Greek myth of the Minotaur to the fall of Rome, and “Survivor,” the seemingly indestructible reality TV franchise. Like the 2000 Japanese movie “Battle Royale,” to which it bears some resemblance, “The Hunger Games” works because it hits that sweet spot where classical myth meets contemporary anxiety to become a pop mind-blower."
six, Hunger Games review by Katha Pollitt
  •  “You can also read the book as an indictment of reality television, in which a bored and cynical audience amuses itself watching desperate people destroy themselves, and the movie plays this angle for all it’s worth."
seven, Hunger Games review by Tarina Quraishi
  • “Indeed, they serve as the moral center of Katniss’s universe precisely because of their impermeability to the aggression around them, what Collins symbolically alludes to as “fire.” In The Hunger Games, fire is attractive and powerful, but it destroys everything in its path. On the contrary, redemption is possible through love, nurturing, and non-violence—qualities that carry feminine connotations."
  • “At the same time, the story inspires us with the lofty feminized ideal of prioritizing altruistic selflessness over self-preservation, as demonstrated by an official trailer for the movie that heavily emphasizes the heroic self-sacrifice Katniss commits by taking her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games. Somehow, the series refuses to fully embrace aggression or non-violence, and even hints at the futility of searching for a happy medium. With no resolution in sight, The Hunger Games leaves its fans confronting what we knew all along: Neither gender is superior. There is no paradigm for a perfect human, because no such being exists."
  • “The Hunger Games largely avoids the restrictive lens of gender. Within Collins’ literary world, Katniss is characterized neither as feminine nor as feminist; she is merely a complex, humanized character. Perhaps this is the real victory of the Games."

Monday, December 9, 2013

screenplay proposal

Crystal Willis
ART 441
Professor DeLappe
Screenplay Proposal
The Distance Between You and I
From Afar, You Appear Within Reach, But Looks Can Be Deceiving”

    I am fascinated by the idea of space. Not the physiological location that engulfs the Earth and continues on into a noir abyss, but the notion of space as a mathematical entitythe third dimension. I am intrigued by form and its ability to manipulate the manner in which the naked eye perceives the world. The Distance Between You and I was an idea that flourished last semester, while considering one's physical placement in the world. Although something may appear adjacent to another individual, the third dimension can cause a disposition between the two forms. To illustrate this concept, one could hold a pebble up towards the sun, and although the pebble has the ability to be placed parallel and perpendicular to the form and trick the eye into believing the two are side by side, the third dimension prevents the two entities from crossing paths with one another. This prevention is astonishing.
     Although a pebble illustrates the bare bones of this concept, it is not the intent of the work. The work itself is propelled by two individuals. Their forms are both generalized, as unique characteristics are not of significance. This includes gender, for the actions that the two characters are allocated do not rely on a particular physique or sex. Both characters are composed of sand—sleek, reflective, and fluid. The two characters are placed within an environment made of glass, dictated by the x, y, and z-axis. As the only two coexisting in the space, the characters are inclined to search for one another and unite. Due to the nature of the characters’ material composition, neither character has the ability to speak, hear, or see; they are only capable of feeling and moving. The only evidence they are able to leave behind as a guide to their displacement are pieces of themselves; the fluidity of sand forces remnants of their presence every step they take throughout the environment, which can be perceived as a trail for each character. Though a trail could be considered ingenious for the two characters to find one another by, it should be noted that both characters are of the same material composition and there is an inability to distinguish one character’s own trail from another. Secondly, both characters have a primary fixed axis. This indicates that a majority of their maneuvers throughout the environment must be along the axis they are bound to. One character is primarily fixed to the x-axis (left and right), whereas the latter is to the y-axis (forwards and backwards). The only exception to this rule is if a character reaches the end of the environment, they are able to offset themselves one step into their opposed axis. The z-axis is fixed as the characters are currently at the base surface of the environment.
     As each character progresses through the space, they continue to decompose—until the moment that the two collide. As this event presents itself, the two characters step forward and reach out towards one another. Their hands are the first to touch, and the characters continue forward into a full embrace. As a pair, they are able to travel throughout both the x and y-axis of the composition. The moment is savored for just a few seconds until all their progress flashes before them and the space rotates 180 degrees. The two characters attempt to hold on to one another with one arm, meanwhile frantically extending their free arms towards the surface of the environment in hopes of grasping on to it. “X” is able to take hold of the environment with one hand and just barely catches “Y” by the hand, but their fate is inevitable. The gravitational pull is too much for their material compositions to remain, and both characters continue to deteriorate. “Y,” the character suspended in space, disassembles at a more rapid rate than “X,” the character who has secured the two, as the weight of the sand that once composed their trails has come pelting down upon them. The suspended character “Y” eventually succumbs to their fate and their fingers dissolve from the grasp of the other character. Alone and slowly deteriorating, the remaining character “X” is placed in a state of agony by not only the loss of their companion, but also a physical suffering as both the force of gravity and the restricted axis are acting upon them. With an inability to handle the torment, “X” decides to let go of the environment and upon impact, falls apart over the remains of their companion. After the demise of both characters, the scene is panned out, and the viewer is able to observe that the glass space was actually an hourglass that had been flipped over, set on a cluttered desk of a professional whose office is in a state of absolute pandemonium.
     The end result was selected as a paradox to the illustrated scene. The plot of the story carries a viewer through a narrative of two lost individuals in isolation who try to find one another in complete silence on a fixed axis, and although they are successful, everything is taken from them due to a single turn of their environment. Meanwhile, none of this is observed by the perpetrator because they are consumed by the rowdiness and the activities amongst them, as opposed to the minute actions they have performed. Additionally, the two sets are contradictory as one is absolutely cleansed with nothing in sight; whereas the latter is overwhelming and crucial details are easily looked past.
     By no means is this work intended to be a full feature film, but rather a short film. The work could adequately be illustrated in eight to twelve minutes and remain truthful to the proposed storyline.  Additionally, the work is not intended to be acted out. Although there are methods such as computer generated imagery that could be added to recorded footage, I am more interested in treating the storyline as an animation. This medium would allow for a better understanding of how influential each axis is in both the composition and the real world. Additionally, animation would produce continuity in the overall aesthetics of the work, as well as provide the author an opportunity into the world of rigging and treating 3D models for animation.

Monday, October 28, 2013

weeks six and seven

week six - film reviews [and] reading five - key points

Planet of the Apes, 1968, 112 minutes, USA, Director Franklin Schaffner

     When viewing the 1968 film Planet of the Apes, the first consideration that one should recognize is the films usage of present day icons as a means of connecting a viewer to the film. It's interesting to see how the adaptation of large scale monuments, such as the statue of liberty, or minute features, such as the doll that was discovered that had the ability to talk, are not only represented in the film, but are relatable to the common person who may be a viewer of the work. It creates an acknowledgement, or better yet, a bond between the viewer and the film and it's carried more personally because of the symbols they representwhether in correlation to our youth or pride as a nation. This feeds into the overarching theme of the work, the future, and the manner in which our present being will be articulated and remembered. It also poses the idea that since man is a descendant of the "ape," there remains a possibility that man may either revert to the same physique as ape once again, or opens a viewers thoughts into the possibility that may lead man to mutate into something else. The film also is able to articulate common fears that may present themselves in the future, such as the fear of being lonely. The protagonist of the film, Taylor, even mentions early on in the film while still in space that, "time bends, space is boundless, it squashes a mans ego, I feel lonely," (Planet of the Apes, 1968). This is not only a fear one could apply to the future, but pulling it back to the populace viewing this film, could also relate to one's current state of being in the 1960s.

one, Signifying Monkeys by Richard von Busack
  • "We see the origin of the taboo against killing"Ape shall not kill ape"and the class lines laid down between the bellicose gorillas, the intellectual, pacifist chimps, and the orangutans, the Ape-Planet's clergy," (von Busack, pg. 166).
  • "For all that, the first Planet of the Apes follows the politically centrist path of the average cold-war science fiction film ... In the golden age of 1950s science fiction, the giant bugs or rogue vegetablessymbolic of the Communist menaceare faced off by an aggressive general, who wants to kill the monster on sight ...  In the 1968 Planet of the Apes, it's the orangutan Dr. Zaius (the mellifluous Maurice Evans) who's the bridge between the angry hawkish gorillas and the liberal chips. Zaius is conservative enough to want the planet to stay changless. Still, he's willing, within reason, to listen to the pacifist chimps," (von Busack, pg. 169).
  • "Dehn intended the later ape films to be allegories about the boiling racial tensions in America ... The whites are racist almost to the last man. The best human in the film, a mitigating argument against ape revolution, is the assistant of the ape-hating, dictatorial Governor, McDonald, a black man caught between the oppressed and the oppressors ... McDonald's own will to help and heal isn't strong enough to overcome the bestial impulses of the white enslavers of the apes, (von Busack, pg. 173).
THX 1138, 1971, 88 minutes, USA, Director George Lucas 
      The moment of THX 1138 that resonates with me is the ending, when the protagonist emerges from the underground dystopian future society he is marked by, to a new beginning. There's an interesting contrast and resolution in the scene that goes hand in hand with several of the motives throughout the film. The first is when LUH refuses to take her drugs and realizes her love for THX. There's a scene in the film that LUH proposes that the two of them run away to the forbidden territory, but THX doesn't feel safe about the idea. As the film progresses and THX finds himself in a variety of predicaments, it's interesting to see his development as a character when he begins to abandon his hesitations towards leaving the dystopia, especially when he learns that LUH has been terminated and regenerated. As a viewer, it almost feels as if he is compelled and committed to the idea of abandoning the dystopia not for himself, but in memory of LUH. Additionally, the emergence at the end plays hand in hand with the notion of sanity. There comes a time when one is emerged in routine for too long and their well being is challenged. Often times an individual will succumb to this fate and simply coexist with it, but rarely do you see individuals take the initiative to change the very thing that causes their misery. The ending of THX 1138 lends itself perfectly to this concept, where THX has abandoned the forsakened society he had formerly been affiliated to, meanwhile emerging into a new environment that will only provide him opportunities to think, learn, and discover for himself.
Silent Running, 1972, 89 minutes, USA, Director Douglas Trumbull
     One of the most engaging aspects of the 1972 film, Silent Running, is the character development that occurs throughout. From the very start, an audience is presented with characters from two sides of the spectrum: an environmentalist who desires to preserve what remains, and a crew who cannot see the beauty or necessity in nature. When presented orders to destroy the habitats and return home, Lowell is conflicted and ultimately takes his aggression out on the crew as opposed to obeying orders.  "Given a choice between the lives of his companions and the lives of Earth's last surviving firs and pines, oaks and elms, and creepers and cantaloupes, he decides for the growing things," (Ebert). After suffocating one of the crew members and aborting the remaining two in one of the habitats, Lowell begins to feel the weight of guilt on his shoulders. This guilt is put to rest upon the burial of the crew member that remained on board, that is representational to not only the unmerited deeds he had caused, but also is part and parcel to the fact that he no longer has access to human interaction in space. In place is the interaction he has with three droids. What is interesting about these droids is the fact that they show humanistic emotions, even though they cannot articulate in the English language (though they can understand it). This notion is represented when Droid 3, Louie, was ripped from the ship during a storm and the only remnant of him that remained was his foot. Lowell attempts to take the imagery and scare the remaining droids with it, stating that this is what happens when one does not follow directions, but the way the droids mourned over the loss of Louie was similar to the way Lowell mourned during his crew member’s burial. In addition, when Lowell is performing surgery on Droid 2 after crashing into him, the other remained at his side and whimpered. These emotions from the droids make up for the lack of Lowell’s, where the roles are reversed and it can almost be compared that Lowell thinks more logically, whereas the droids are developed as being more compassionate.

two, Silent Running review by Roger Ebert
  • "Given a choice between the lives of his companions and the lives of Earth's last surviving firs and pines, oaks and elms, and creepers and cantaloupes, he decides for the growing things."
week seven - film reviews [and] reading six - key points
La Jetée, 1962, 28 minutes, France, Director Chris Marker
     When considering the 1968 film, La Jetée, one of the most prominent features of the film is its presentation of a memory. With the film being placed in the past, present, and future, the selected method of still-images emits a particular timelessness to the work. This timelessness is in correlation to the idea of what the still-image represents today – a memory. With the subtle fades from one slide to the next, La Jetée captures the same longing sensation that one’s very own photo album may evoke. Upon glancing over photographs, there’s very slight movement that comes with a still image, and that movement is on the basis of one’s memory of the past as opposed to the visual representation of what is before oneself. When viewing the film as a travel narrative, "La Jetée doesn’t make much sense; but then again, time and memory do not make ‘sense’, at least when articulated by a technology as arbitrary as language,” (Sellars). With minimal commentary and subtle movement throughout the film, a viewer is able to experience La Jetée with minimal distractions and soak up the very recollection that is being interpreted. In addition, the film attempts to portray Paris during a futuristic world war, an event that has yet to occur, but there’s an absolute realness that the film is able to accomplish with the imagery that brings this idea to life. The views of Paris and the lack of clarity in the sky give a viewer a strong sense of time and place in the work. This very notion "highlights why we are attracted to SF in the first place: not for bug-eyed aliens or galaxy-hopping spaceships, but for the way in which the form can twist our most cherished versions of reality inside out."

three, La Jetée review by Simon Sellars
  • "Nothing sorts memories from ordinary moments. They claim remembrance when they show their scars."
  • "[La Jetée] highlights why we are attracted to SF in the first place: not for bug-eyed aliens or galaxy-hopping spaceships, but for the way in which the form can twist our most cherished versions of reality inside out."
  • "However, like all time travel stories, La Jetée doesn’t make much sense; but then again, time and memory do not make ‘sense’, at least when articulated by a technology as arbitrary as language. Rather, La Jetée‘s virtue is its immediate, haunting ability to evoke the emotions of love and desire; its use of photomontage poignantly conjures up the frozen moments that constitute memory."
Dark Star, 1974, 83 minutes, USA, Director John Carpenter
     At a time of the Watergate era and the Vietnam War, the 1974 “cult” film Dark Star was considered an enthusiastic film that allowed viewers to escape from reality and enter a realm of black comedy. When considering the blanket genre for Dark Star, there’s an interesting dynamic present. Regardless that the film was completed on a low budget, it would be anticipated that the film wouldn’t be of the same stature of those in circulation simultaneously, but the ingenuity of the film transforms it into a classic. With innovative ideas such as being the first film to allow viewers to experience hyperspace, the film is able to pull forth elements that have yet to be explored in the genre of science fiction. In addition to the special effects contribution to the success of the film, the characters that drive the story forward should also be considered. Of the characters, there’s equilibrium present. Each character contains a unique personality from the next, which not only allows for the characters of the film to be more easily identified with by a large audience, but it also allows for conflict to occur from within since they’re not only conflicting personalities, but these individuals are confined to a small space for an obscure amount of time. Whether a crew member, computer, alien, or bomb, there is a cohesive environment of checks and balances developed from one individual to the next.

four, Dark Star review
  • "By presenting us with hippies in space, O'Bannon and Carpenter are parodying a few myths of the sci-fi genre, of brave pioneers who boldly go where no man has gone before."
  • "Dark Star is very much a product of its time. Channelling the disillusioned ideals of the 1960s peace and love era with the darker, more paranoid mood of the 1970s, the film takes influence from a number of sources."
  • "The ‘character' of Bomb 20 is a direct nod to HAL, as is Doolittle's space walk and his phenemological conversation to try and convince the bomb not to explode in the ship's loading bay. It's in these moments that Dark Star reveals a philosophical and almost existential edge." 
five, Technophobia/Dystopia by Michael Ryan and Douglas Kellner
  • Technophobia:
    • "Fantasy replaces an accurate assessment of the world with images that substitute desired ideals or feared projections," (Ryan, pg. 48).
    • "From a conservative perspective technology represents artifice as opposed to nature, the mechanical as opposed to the spontaneous, the regulated as opposed to the free, an equaliser as opposed to a promoter of individual distinction ... most important for the conservative individualist critique, it represents modernity, the triumph of radical change over traditional social institutions," (Ryan, pg. 49).
    • "The rhetorical strategy of many technophobic films, therefore, is to establish a strong opposition between terms (liberty vs. equality) that does not permit any intermediation. The elimination of the middle ground is an essential operation of this ideology," (Ryan, pg. 49).
    • "Thus one can only be an individual, a self, within a society of monogamous marriage, in which sexuality primarily serves the 'natural' function of reproduction rather than pleasure ... they all depend on the rejection of everything technology represents - mediation, equality, intersubstitutability, and so on," (Ryan, pg. 50).
    • "[Blade Runner] offers a mediation between technology and human values. 'Replicants are like any other machine. They can be a benefit or a hazard," ... The film also deconstructs the conservative romantic opposition of reason and feeling ... But the film suggests that feels is not the polar opposite of reason ... Thus, the film deconstructs the oppositions - human/technology, reason/feeling, culture/nature - that underwrite the conservative fear of technology by refusing the privilege one pole of the dichotomy over another and by leaving their meaning undecidable," (Ryan, pg. 51-52).
    • "What rhetoric, like technology, opens is the possibility of an undergrounded play with social institutions ... Perhaps this is why technology is such an object of fear in conservative science fiction films," (Ryan, pg. 52).
  •  Dystopias:
    • "Dystopias generally project into the future the fears of the present, and their themes often transcode the sorts of anxieties that characterised that crisis ... The dystopia films can therefore be seen as indirect, displaced articulations of progressive forces and desires that constituted a resistance to conservative hegemony in the 1980s and that pointed forward, literally as well as figurally, to alternative futures," (Ryan, pg. 54).