Science fiction film

Science fiction film

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Science fiction film is a film genre that uses science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

: speculative
Speculative fiction
Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as...

, science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

-based depictions of phenomena that are not necessarily accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial life forms
Extraterrestrial life in popular culture
In popular cultures, "extraterrestrials" are life forms — especially intelligent life forms— that are of extraterrestrial origin .-Historical ideas:-Pre-modern:...

, alien worlds
Planets in science fiction
Planets in science fiction are fictional planets that appear in various media, especially those of the science fiction genre, as story-settings or depicted locations.-History:...

, extrasensory perception, and time travel
Time travel
Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

, often along with futuristic elements such as spacecraft, robot
Robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

s, or other technologies. Science fiction films have often been used to focus on political or social issues
Social issues
Social issues are controversial issues which relate to people's personal lives and interactions. Social issues are distinguished from economic issues...

, and to explore philosophical issues like the human condition
Human condition
The human condition encompasses the experiences of being human in a social, cultural, and personal context. It can be described as the irreducible part of humanity that is inherent and not connected to gender, race, class, etc. — a search for purpose, sense of curiosity, the inevitability of...

. In many cases, tropes
Trope (literature)
A literary trope is the usage of figurative language in literature, or a figure of speech in which words are used in a sense different from their literal meaning...

 derived from written science fiction may be used by filmmakers ignorant of or at best indifferent to the standards of scientific plausibility and plot logic to which written science fiction is traditionally held.

The genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 has existed since the early years of silent cinema, when Georges Melies' A Trip to the Moon (1902) amazed audiences with its trick photography effects. The next major example in the genre was the 1927 film Metropolis
Metropolis (film)
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and...

. From the 1930s to the 1950s, the genre consisted mainly of low-budget B-movie
B-movie
A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse or pornographic film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature....

s. After Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

's 1968 landmark 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

, the science fiction film genre was taken more seriously. In the late 1970s, big-budget science fiction films filled with special effects became popular with audiences after the success of Star Wars
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 American epic space opera film, written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films complete the original trilogy, while a prequel trilogy completes the...

and paved the way for the blockbuster hits of subsequent decades.

Definition


Defining precisely which films belong to the science fiction genre is often difficult, as there is no universally accepted definition of the genre, or in fact its underlying genre in literature. According to one definition:
Science fiction film is a film genre which emphasizes actual, extrapolative, or speculative science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and the empirical method, interacting in a social context with the lesser emphasized, but still present, transcendentalism
Transcendentalism
Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the 1830s and 1840s in the New England region of the United States as a protest against the general state of culture and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard University and the doctrine of the Unitarian...

 of magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 and religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, in an attempt to reconcile man with the unknown
(Sobchack 63).


This definition assumes that a continuum exists between (real-world) empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 and (supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

) transcendentalism
Transcendentalism
Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the 1830s and 1840s in the New England region of the United States as a protest against the general state of culture and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard University and the doctrine of the Unitarian...

, with science fiction film on the side of empiricism, and horror film
Horror film
Horror films seek to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's most primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer through the means of macabre and the supernatural, thus frequently overlapping with the fantasy and science fiction genres...

 and fantasy film
Fantasy film
Fantasy films are films with fantastic themes, usually involving magic, supernatural events, make-believe creatures, or exotic fantasy worlds. The genre is considered to be distinct from science fiction film and horror film, although the genres do overlap...

 on the side of transcendentalism. However, there are numerous well-known examples of science fiction horror films, epitomized by such pictures as Frankenstein
Frankenstein (1931 film)
Frankenstein is a 1931 Pre-Code Horror Monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features...

and Alien
Alien (film)
Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature which...

.

The visual style of science fiction film can be characterized by a clash between alien and familiar images. This clash is implemented when alien images become familiar, as in A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange (film)
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. It was written, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick...

, when the repetitions of the Korova Milkbar make the alien decor seem more familiar. As well, familiar images become alien, as in the films Repo Man and Liquid Sky
Liquid Sky
Liquid Sky is an independent American film. It debuted at the Montreal Film festival in August 1982 and was well received at several film festivals thereafter. It was produced with a budget of $500,000. It became the most successful independent film of 1983 grossing $1.7 million dollars in the...

. For example, in Dr. Strangelove, the distortion of the humans make the familiar images seem more alien. Finally, alien and familiar images are juxtaposed, as in The Deadly Mantis
The Deadly Mantis
The Deadly Mantis is a 1957 science fiction film produced by William Alland for Universal-International Pictures. It was directed by Nathan Juran from a screenplay by Martin Berkeley, and starred Craig Stevens, William Hopper, Alix Talton, and Pat Conway...

, when a giant praying mantis is shown climbing the Washington Monument
Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...

.

Cultural theorist Scott Bukatman
Scott Bukatman
Scott Bukatman is a cultural theorist and Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at Stanford University. Bukatman's research examines how popular media and genres "mediate between new technologies and human perceptual and bodily experience."-1980s-1990s:In 1986, Bukatman published "Battle...

 has proposed that science fiction film allows contemporary culture to witness an expression of the sublime
Sublime (philosophy)
In aesthetics, the sublime is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic...

, be it through exaggerated scale, apocalypse or transcendence.

1900–1920s



Science fiction films appeared early in the silent film
Silent film
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...

 era, typically as short films shot in black and white, sometimes with colour tinting. They usually had a technological theme and were often intended to be humorous. In 1902
1902 in film
The year 1902 in film involved some significant events.-Events:*March 10 - Circuit Court's decision disallows Thomas Edison from having a monopoly on motion picture technology....

, Georges Méliès
Georges Méliès
Georges Méliès , full name Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, was a French filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest cinema. He was very innovative in the use of special effects...

 released Le Voyage dans la Lune
Le Voyage dans la Lune
A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French black-and-white silent science fiction film. It is based loosely on two popular novels of the time: Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon....

, generally considered the first science fiction film, and a film that used early trick photography to depict a spacecraft's journey to the moon. Several early films merged the science fiction and horror
Horror film
Horror films seek to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's most primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer through the means of macabre and the supernatural, thus frequently overlapping with the fantasy and science fiction genres...

 genres. Examples of this are Frankenstein
Frankenstein (1910 film)
Frankenstein is a 1910 film made by Edison Studios that was written and directed by J. Searle Dawley.It was the first motion picture adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The unbilled cast included Augustus Phillips as Dr...

(1910
1910 in film
The year 1910 in film involved some significant events.-Events:*The newsreel footage of the funeral of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom is shot in Kinemacolor, making it the first color newsreel....

), a film adaptation of Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

's novel, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), based on the psychological tale by Robert Lewis Stevenson. Taking a more adventurous tack, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916 film)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a 1916 silent film directed by Stuart Paton. The film's storyline is based on the novel of the same name by Jules Verne, along with other elements used from Verne's The Mysterious Island....

(1916
1916 in film
The year 1916 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* October 17 - release of A Daughter of the Gods, the first US production with a million dollar budget, with the first nude scene by a major star....

) is a film based on Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

’s famous novel of a wondrous submarine and its vengeful captain. In the 1920s, European filmmakers tended to use science fiction for prediction and social commentary, as can be seen in German films such as Metropolis
Metropolis (film)
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and...

(1927
1927 in film
-Events:*January 10 - Fritz Lang's science-fiction fantasy Metropolis premieres in Germany.*April 7 - Abel Gance's Napoleon often considered his best known and greatest masterpiece, premiers at the Paris Opéra and would demonstrate techniques and equipment that would not be used for years to...

) and Frau im Mond
Frau im Mond
Woman in the Moon is a science fiction silent film that premiered October 15, 1929. It is often considered to be one of the first "serious" science fiction films...

(1929
1929 in film
-Events:The days of the silent film are numbered. A mad scramble to provide synchronized sound is on.*January 20 - The movie In Old Arizona is released. The film is the first full-length talking film to be filmed outdoors....

). Other notable science fiction films of the silent era include The Impossible Voyage
The Impossible Voyage
The Impossible Voyage is a 1904 silent film by pioneer filmmaker Georges Méliès. The film's runtime is about 24 minutes , and was probably inspired by Melies' successful earlier film Le Voyage dans la Lune...

 (1904), The Motorist (1906), Conquest of the Pole
Conquest of the Pole
Conquest of the Pole is a science fantasy film by Georges Méliès based on the novel The Adventures of Captain Hatteras by Jules Verne. It was released in 1912 and deals with an extraordinary race to the north pole by rival parties of balloonists....

 (1912), Himmelskibet
Himmelskibet (film)
Himmelskibet , Excelsior / A Trip to Mars / Das Himmelschiff is a 1918 Danish film about a trip to Mars. In 2006, the film was restored and re-released on DVD by the Danish Film Institute....

 (1918), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era. This movie is cited as...

 (1919), L'Huomo Meccanico (1921), Paris Qui Dort
Paris Qui Dort
The Crazy Ray is a 1925 French science fiction comedy short film directed by René Clair. The film is about a mad doctor who uses a magic ray on citizens which causes them to freeze in strange and often embarrassing positions. People who are unaffected by the ray begin to loot Paris. The film's...

 (1923), Aelita
Aelita
Aelita , also known as Aelita: Queen of Mars, is a silent film directed by Soviet filmmaker Yakov Protazanov made on Mezhrabpom-Rus film studio and released in 1924. It was based on Alexei Tolstoy's novel of the same name...

 (1924), Luch Smerti (1925) The Lost World
The Lost World (1925 film)
The Lost World is a 1925 silent film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel of the same name. The movie was produced by First National Pictures, a large Hollywood studio at the time, and stars Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger. This version was directed by Harry O...

 (1925).

1930s–1950s



In the 1930s there were several big budget science fiction films, notably Just Imagine
Just Imagine
Just Imagine is a 1930 science-fiction musical comedy directed by David Butler, to console audiences distressed by the Great Depression. The film is probably best known for its art direction and special effects in its portrayal of New York City in an imagined 1980...

(1930), the first science fiction musical, King Kong
King Kong (1933 film)
King Kong is a Pre-Code 1933 fantasy monster adventure film co-directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and written by Ruth Rose and James Ashmore Creelman after a story by Cooper and Edgar Wallace. The film tells of a gigantic island-dwelling apeman creature called Kong who dies in...

(1933), Things to Come
Things to Come
Things to Come is a British science fiction film produced by Alexander Korda and directed by William Cameron Menzies. The screenplay was written by H. G. Wells and is a loose adaptation of his own 1933 novel The Shape of Things to Come and his 1931 non-fiction work, The Work, Wealth and Happiness...

(1936) and Lost Horizon (1937). Starting in 1936, a number of science fiction comic strip
Comic strip
A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions....

s were adapted as serial
Serial (film)
Serials, more specifically known as Movie serials, Film serials or Chapter plays, were short subjects originally shown in theaters in conjunction with a feature film. They were related to pulp magazine serialized fiction...

s, notably Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon is the hero of a science fiction adventure comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond. First published January 7, 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip. Also inspired by these series were comics such as Dash...

and Buck Rogers
Buck Rogers
Anthony Rogers is a fictional character that first appeared in Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan in the August 1928 issue of the pulp magazine Amazing Stories. A sequel, The Airlords of Han, was published in the March 1929 issue....

, both starring Buster Crabbe
Buster Crabbe
Clarence Linden "Buster" Crabbe was an American athlete and actor, who starred in a number of popular serials in the 1930s and 1940s.-Birth:...

. These serials, and the comic strips they were based on, were very popular with the general public. Other notable science fiction films of the 1930s include Frankenstein
Frankenstein (1931 film)
Frankenstein is a 1931 Pre-Code Horror Monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features...

(1931), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Doctor X
Doctor X (film)
Doctor X is a First National/Warner Bros. horror and mystery film based on the play of the same name. It was directed by Michael Curtiz and stars Lee Tracy, Fay Wray, and Lionel Atwill....

(1932), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931 film)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1932 American Pre-Code horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde , the Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of...

(1931), F.P.1
F.P.1
F.P.1 antwortet nicht, or F.P.1 Doesn't Respond was the name of a novel written by noted science fiction and fantasy writer/director Kurt Siodmak, best known as the creator of The Wolf Man....

(1932), Island of Lost Souls
Island of Lost Souls (1933 film)
Island of Lost Souls is an American science fiction horror film starring Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi and Kathleen Burke as The Panther Woman. Produced by Paramount Pictures in 1933 from a script co-written by science fiction legend Philip Wylie, the movie was the...

(1932), Deluge
Deluge (film)
Deluge is an apocalyptic science fiction film, released by RKO Radio Pictures, about a group of worldwide natural disasters which lead to the destruction of the earth....

(1933), The Invisible Man (1933), Mad Love
Mad Love (1935 film)
Mad Love is a 1935 American horror film adaptation of Maurice Renard's story The Hands of Orlac. Directed by German-émigré film maker Karl Freund, the film stars Peter Lorre as Dr. Gogol, Frances Drake as Yvonne Orlac and Colin Clive as Stephen Orlac. The plot revolves around Doctor Gogol's...

(1935), Trans-Atlantic Tunnel
The Tunnel (1935 film)
The Tunnel, also known as Transatlantic Tunnel in the United States, is a 1935 British science fiction film based on the 1913 novel Der Tunnel by Bernhard Kellermann, about the building of a transatlantic tunnel. It was directed by Maurice Elvey and stars Richard Dix, Leslie Banks, Madge Evans,...

(1935), The Devil-Doll
The Devil-Doll
The Devil-Doll is a horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring a cross-dressing Lionel Barrymore and Maureen O'Sullivan as his daughter, Lorraine Levond...

(1936), The Invisible Ray (1936), The Man Who Changed His Mind
The Man Who Changed His Mind
The Man Who Changed His Mind is a 1936 science fiction horror film starring Boris Karloff and Anna Lee. It was directed by Robert Stevenson and was released in Great Britain by Gainsborough Pictures. The film was also known as The Brainsnatcher or The Man Who Lived Again.-Plot:Dr...

(1936), The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead (1936 film)
The Walking Dead is a 1936 horror film starring Boris Karloff as a wrongly executed man who is restored to life by a scientist . The film was directed by Michael Curtiz, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.-Plot:...

(1936), Non-Stop New York
Non-Stop New York
Non-Stop New York is a 1937 crime film based on the novel Sky Steward by Ken Attiwill. A woman who can clear an innocent man of the charge of murder is pursued by gangsters onto a luxurious transatlantic flying boat.-Cast:...

(1937), and The Return of Doctor X
The Return of Doctor X
The Return of Doctor X is a 1939 American science fiction-horror film directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Wayne Morris, Rosemary Lane, and Humphrey Bogart as the title character. It was based on the short story "The Doctor's Secret" by William J. Makin...

(1939). The 1940s brought us Before I Hang
Before I Hang
Before I Hang is a 1940 American science fiction, horror film released by Columbia Pictures, starring Boris Karloff. The film was directed by Nick Grinde , and was one of several films Karloff starred in contract with Columbia.-Plot:Dr...

(1940), Black Friday
Black Friday (1940 film)
Black Friday is a 1940 American science fiction film starring Boris Karloff. Béla Lugosi, although second-billed, has only a small part in the film and does not appear with Karloff....

(1940), Dr. Cyclops
Dr. Cyclops
Dr. Cyclops is a science fiction horror film directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack, starring Thomas Coley, Victor Kilian, Janice Logan, Charles Halton, Frank Yaconelli, and Albert Dekker, and released by Paramount Pictures.- Plot summary :...

(1940), The Devil Commands
The Devil Commands
The Devil Commands is a 1941 horror film directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Boris Karloff. The working title of the film was The Devil Said No. In it, a man obsessed with contacting his dead wife falls in with a sinister phony medium. The Devil Commands is one of the many films from the...

(1941), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941 film)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1941 horror film starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. Rather than being a new film version of the novel, it is a direct remake of the 1931 film of the same name, which differs greatly from the novel. The movie was based on Robert Louis Stevenson's...

(1941), Man Made Monster
Man Made Monster
Man-Made Monster is a science fiction horror film released by Universal Pictures. The film stars Lon Chaney Jr. in his horror debut. Man-Made Monster was re-released under various titles including Electric Man and The Mysterious Dr. R...

(1941),It Happened Tomorrow
It Happened Tomorrow
It Happened Tomorrow is a 1944 fantasy film starring Dick Powell, Linda Darnell and Jack Oakie, and featuring Edgar Kennedy and Sig Ruman. It was directed by René Clair.-Plot:...

(1944), It Happens Every Spring
It Happens Every Spring
It Happens Every Spring is a 1949 comedy film starring Ray Milland directed by Lloyd Bacon. The story of a baseball pitcher is completely fictitious, and the main character King Kelly is not based on or related to the actual player....

(1949), and The Perfect Woman
The Perfect Woman
The Perfect Woman is a comedy, 1949 British film directed by Bernard Knowles and written by George Black, Jr and J. B. Boothroyd, based upon a play by Wallace Geoffrey and Basil Mitchell. A scientist creates what he considers the perfect woman in his lab...

(1949). The release of Destination Moon
Destination Moon (film)
Destination Moon is an American science fiction feature film produced by George Pal, who later produced When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds, and The Time Machine. Pal commissioned the script by James O'Hanlon and Rip Van Ronkel...

(1950) and Rocketship X-M
Rocketship X-M
Rocketship X-M was the second of the American science fiction feature films of the space adventure genre begun in the post-war era, in 1950...

(1950) brought us to what many people consider "the golden age of the science fiction film."

In the 1950s public interest in space travel and new technologies was great. While many 1950s science fiction films were low-budget B movie
B movie
A B movie is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not definitively an arthouse or pornographic film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified a film intended for distribution as the less-publicized, bottom half of a double feature....

s, there were several successful films with larger budgets and impressive special effects. These include The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 1951 American science fiction film directed by Robert Wise and written by Edmund H. North based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates. The film stars Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Sam Jaffe, and Hugh Marlowe...

(1951), The Thing from Another World
The Thing from Another World
The Thing from Another World , is a 1951 science fiction film based on the 1938 novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell . It tells the story of an Air Force crew and scientists at a remote Arctic research outpost who fight a malevolent plant-based alien being...

(1951), When Worlds Collide
When Worlds Collide (film)
When Worlds Collide is a 1951 science fiction film based on the 1933 novel co-written by Philip Gordon Wylie and Edwin Balmer. The film was shot in Technicolor, directed by Rudolph Maté and was the winner of the 1951 Academy Award for special effects....

(1951), The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds (1953 film)
The War of the Worlds is a 1953 science fiction film starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson. It was the first on-screen loose adaptation of the H. G. Wells classic novel of the same name...

(1952), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954 film)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a 1954 adventure film starring Kirk Douglas as Ned Land, James Mason as Captain Nemo, Paul Lukas as Professor Pierre Aronnax, and Peter Lorre as Conseil. It was the first science fiction film produced by Walt Disney Productions, as well as the only science-fiction...

(1954), This Island Earth (1955), Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet is a 1956 science fiction film directed by Fred M. Wilcox, with a screenplay by Cyril Hume. It stars Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, and Anne Francis. The characters and its setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and its plot contains certain...

(1956), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Journey to the Center of the Earth
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959 film)
Journey to the Center of the Earth is a 1959 adventure film adapted by Charles Brackett from the novel by Jules Verne. It stars Pat Boone, James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Peter Ronson, Diane Baker, Thayer David and Alan Napier...

(1959) and On the Beach
On the Beach (1959 film)
On the Beach is a post-apocalyptic drama film based on Nevil Shute's 1957 novel of the same name. The film features Gregory Peck , Ava Gardner , Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins...

(1959). There is often a close connection between films in the science fiction genre and the so called "monster movie." Examples of this are Them! (1954), The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a 1953 science fiction film directed by Eugène Lourié and stars Paul Christian, Paula Raymond and Cecil Kellaway with visual effects by Ray Harryhausen. The film is about an atomic bomb test in the Arctic Circle that unfreezes a hibernating fictional dinosaur, a...

(1953), and The Blob
The Blob
The Blob is an independently made 1958 American horror/science-fiction film that depicts a giant amoeba-like alien that terrorizes the small community of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania...

(1958). During the 1950s, Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen is an American film producer and special effects creator...

, 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
It Came from Beneath the Sea
It Came from Beneath the Sea is an American science fiction film produced by Sam Katzman and Charles Schneer for Columbia Pictures, from a script by George Worthing Yates designed to showcase the special model-animated effects of Ray Harryhausen. It was directed by Robert Gordon and stars Kenneth...

(1955), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is an American black and white science fiction film, directed by Fred F. Sears and released by Columbia Pictures. The film is also known as Invasion of the Flying Saucers. It was ostensibly suggested by the non-fiction work Flying Saucers from Outer Space by Donald...

(1956) and 20 Million Miles to Earth
20 Million Miles to Earth
20 Million Miles to Earth is a 1957 American science fiction film written by Bob Williams and Christopher Knopf from an original treatment by Charlott Knight. The film was produced by Charles H. Schneer's Morningside Productions for Columbia Pictures and directed by Nathan H. Juran...

(1957).

1960s



There were relatively few science fiction films in the 1960s, but some of the films transformed science fiction cinema. Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

’s 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

(1968
1968 in film
The year 1968 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* October 30 - The film The Lion in Winter, starring Katharine Hepburn, debuts.* November 1 - The MPAA's film rating system is introduced.-Top grossing films :- Awards :...

) 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 1960s films included Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes (1968 film)
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison...

(1968) and Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 (1966 film)
Fahrenheit 451 is a 1966 film directed by François Truffaut, in his first colour film as well as his only English-language film. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury....

(1966
1966 in film
The year 1966 in film involved some significant events.-Events:Animation legend Walter Disney, well known for his creation of Mickey Mouse, died in 15 December 1966 of acute circulatory collapse following a diagnosis of, and surgery for, lung cancer...

), which provided social commentary, and the campy Barbarella
Barbarella (film)
Barbarella is a 1968 Franco-Italian science fiction film based on Jean-Claude Forrest's French Barbarella comics. The film was directed by Roger Vadim and stars Jane Fonda, who was Vadim's wife at the time.-Plot:...

(1968), which explored the sillier side of earlier science fiction. Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic. He is often identified with the 1960s French film movement, French Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave"....

's French "new wave" film Alphaville (1965) posited a futuristic Paris commanded by an artificial intelligence which has outlawed all emotion.

Another influential science fiction film of the 1960s, though it was never produced, was Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray was an Indian Bengali filmmaker. He is regarded as one of the greatest auteurs of 20th century cinema. Ray was born in the city of Kolkata into a Bengali family prominent in the world of arts and literature...

's The Alien
The Alien
The Alien was an Indian-American science fiction film under production in the late 1960s which was eventually cancelled. It was being directed by the celebrated Indian director Satyajit Ray and co-produced by Hollywood studio Columbia Pictures. The script was written by Ray in 1967, loosely based...

, a story about a boy in Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 befriending an alien. After production of the film was cancelled, the script became available throughout America in mimeographed copies.

1970s–1980s



The era of manned trips to the moon in 1969 and the 1970s saw a resurgence of interest in the science fiction film. Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky was a Soviet and Russian filmmaker, writer, film editor, film theorist, theatre and opera director, widely regarded as one of the finest filmmakers of the 20th century....

’s slow-paced Solaris
Solaris (1972 film)
Solaris is a 1972 film adaptation of the novel Solaris , directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The film is a meditative psychological drama occurring mostly aboard a space station orbiting the fictional planet Solaris. The scientific mission has stalled, because the scientist crew have fallen to...

(1972
1972 in film
The year 1972 in film involved some significant events.-Top grossing films :- Awards :Academy Awards:*Avanti!, directed by Billy Wilder, starring Jack Lemmon and Juliet MillsB...

) had visuals and a philosophic scope reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

. Science fiction films from the early 1970s explored the theme of paranoia, in which humanity is depicted as under threat from ecological or technological adversaries of its own creation, such as Silent Running
Silent Running
Silent Running is a 1972 environmentally themed science fiction film starring Bruce Dern and directed by Douglas Trumbull, who had previously worked as a special effects supervisor on such science fiction films as 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Andromeda Strain.-Plot summary:Silent Running depicts a...

(ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

), Westworld
Westworld
Westworld is a 1973 science fiction-thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton and produced by Paul Lazarus III. It stars Yul Brynner as a lifelike robot in a futuristic Western-themed amusement park, and Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as guests of the park.Westworld was the...

(man vs. robot), THX 1138
THX 1138
THX 1138 is a 1971 science fiction film directed by George Lucas in his directorial debut. The film is based on a screenplay by Lucas and Walter Murch...

(man vs. the state), and Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange (film)
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. It was written, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick...

(threat of brainwashing). Conspiracy thriller films of the 1970s included Soylent Green
Soylent Green
Soylent Green is a 1973 American science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer. Starring Charlton Heston, the film overlays the police procedural and science fiction genres as it depicts the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman in a dystopian future suffering from pollution,...

and Futureworld
Futureworld
Futureworld is a 1976 sequel to the 1973 science fiction film Westworld. It was written by George Schenk and Mayo Simon, and directed by Richard T. Heffron. The cast included Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, and Arthur Hill. There is also a cameo appearance by Yul Brynner in a dream sequence...

. The science fiction comedies of the 1970s included Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

's Sleeper
Sleeper (film)
Sleeper is a 1973 futuristic science fiction comedy film, written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman, and directed by Allen. The plot involves the adventures of the owner of a Greenwich Village, NY health food store played by Woody Allen who is cryogenically frozen in 1973 and defrosted 200...

and John Carpenter
John Carpenter
John Howard Carpenter is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, editor, composer, and occasional actor. Although Carpenter has worked in numerous film genres in his four-decade career, his name is most commonly associated with horror and science fiction.- Early life :Carpenter was born...

's Dark Star
Dark Star (film)
Dark Star is a 1974 American comedic science fiction motion picture directed by John Carpenter and co-written with Dan O'Bannon.-Backstory and plot:...

.

Star Wars
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 American epic space opera film, written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films complete the original trilogy, while a prequel trilogy completes the...

(1977
1977 in film
The year 1977 in film involved some significant events.-Events:*In the Academy Awards, Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight win Best Actor and Actress and Supporting Actress awards for Network....

) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 science fiction film written and directed by Steven Spielberg. The film stars Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, and Cary Guffey...

(1978
1978 in film
The year 1978 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* February 1 - Bob Dylan's film Renaldo and Clara, a documentary of the "Rolling Thunder Revue" tour premieres in Los Angeles, California....

), were box-office hits that brought about a huge increase in science fiction films. In 1979
1979 in film
The year 1979 in film involved some significant events.- Major events :* March 5 - Production begins on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.* May 25 - Alien, a landmark of the science fiction genre, is released....

, Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a 1979 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. It is the first film based on the Star Trek television series. The film is set in the twenty-third century, when a mysterious and immensely powerful alien cloud called V'Ger approaches the Earth,...

brought the television series to the big screen for the first time. It was also in this period that The Walt Disney Company released many science fiction films for family audiences such as The Island at the Top of the World, Escape to Witch Mountain
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975 film)
Escape to Witch Mountain is a 1975 film based on the novel Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions, released by Buena Vista Distribution Company and directed by John Hough.- Plot :...

, The Black Hole
The Black Hole
The Black Hole is a 1979 American science fiction film directed by Gary Nelson for Walt Disney Productions. The film stars Maximilian Schell, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Yvette Mimieux, Anthony Perkins, and Ernest Borgnine, while the voices of the main robot characters are provided by Roddy...

, Flight of the Navigator
Flight of the Navigator
Flight of the Navigator is a 1986 Disney science fiction film directed by Randal Kleiser and written by Mark H. Baker and Michael Burton, about a 12-year-old boy named David who is abducted by an alien space craft and finds himself caught in a world which has changed around him...

, and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is a 1989 comedy film. The directorial debut of Joe Johnston and released through Walt Disney Pictures and Silver Screen Partners III, the film tells the story of an inventor who accidentally shrinks his and his neighbor's kids to 1/4 of an inch with his electromagnetic...

. Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott
Sir Ridley Scott is an English film director and producer. His most famous films include The Duellists , Alien , Blade Runner , Legend , Thelma & Louise , G. I...

's films, such as Alien
Alien (film)
Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature which...

and Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K...

, along with James Cameron
James Cameron
James Francis Cameron is a Canadian-American film director, film producer, screenwriter, editor, environmentalist and inventor...

's The Terminator
The Terminator
The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, co-written by Cameron and William Wisher Jr., and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. The film was produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures, and filmed in Los...

, presented the future as dark, dirty and chaotic, and depicted aliens and androids as hostile and dangerous. In contrast, Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Melissa Mathison and starring Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote...

, one of the most successful films of the 1980s, presented aliens as benign and friendly.

The big budget adaptations of Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels...

's Dune
Dune (film)
Dune is a 1984 science fiction film written and directed by David Lynch, based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel of the same name. The film stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, and includes an ensemble of well-known American and European actors in supporting roles. It was filmed at the Churubusco...

, Alex Raymond
Alex Raymond
Alexander Gillespie "Alex" Raymond was an American cartoonist, best known for creating Flash Gordon for King Features in 1934...

's Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon (film)
Flash Gordon is a 1980 British/American science fiction film, based on the comic strip of the same name created by Alex Raymond. The film was directed by Mike Hodges and produced and presented by Dino De Laurentiis. It stars Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Topol, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton, Brian...

and Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

's sequel to 2001, 2010, were box office duds that dissuaded producers from investing in science fiction literary properties. Disney's Tron
Tron
-Film:*Tron , a franchise that began in 1982 with the Walt Disney Pictures film Tron** Tron , a 1982 science fiction film by Disney, starring Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Cindy Morgan, Dan Shor and David Warner...

turned out to be a moderate success. The strongest contributors to the genre during the second half of the 1980s were James Cameron and Paul Verhoeven with The Terminator
The Terminator
The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, co-written by Cameron and William Wisher Jr., and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. The film was produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures, and filmed in Los...

and RoboCop
RoboCop
RoboCop is a 1987 American science fiction-action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan in the near future, RoboCop centers on a police officer who is brutally murdered and subsequently re-created as a super-human cyborg known as "RoboCop"...

entries. Robert Zemeckis
Robert Zemeckis
Robert Lee Zemeckis is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Zemeckis first came to public attention in the 1980s as the director of the comedic time-travel Back to the Future film series, as well as the Academy Award-winning live-action/animation epic Who Framed Roger Rabbit ,...

' 1985
1985 in film
-Events:* 3 December - Roger Moore steps down from the role of James Bond after twelve years and seven films. He is replaced by Timothy Dalton.* The Academy Award for Best Picture was won by Out Of Africa, while the highest grossing film was Back to the Future.* Bliss wins AFI Award for best Movie...

 film Back to the Future
Back to the Future
Back to the Future is a 1985 American science-fiction adventure film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson. The film tells the story of...

and its sequels were critically praised and became box office successes, not to mention international phenomena. James Cameron's 1986 sequel to Alien, Aliens
Aliens (film)
Aliens is a 1986 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, William Hope, and Bill Paxton...

, was very different from the original film, falling more into the action/science fiction genre, it was both a critical and commercial success and Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver is an American actress. She is best known for her critically acclaimed role of Ellen Ripley in the four Alien films: Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection, for which she has received worldwide recognition .Other notable roles include Dana...

 was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

. The Japanese anime film Akira
Akira (film)
is a 1988 Japanese animated cyberpunk science fiction film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, written by Otomo and Izo Hashimoto, and starring the voices of Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama and Taro Ishida. The screenplay is based on Otomo's manga Akira....

(1988
1988 in film
-Top grossing films :- Awards :Academy Awards:* Act of Piracy* Action Jackson, starring Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson, Vanity, Sharon Stone* The Adventures of Baron Munchausen* Akira* Alice...

) also had a big influence outside Japan when released.

1990s–2000s



In the 1990s, the emergence of the world wide web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

 and the cyberpunk
Cyberpunk
Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk, and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983...

 genre spawned several movies on the theme of the computer-human interface, such as Total Recall
Total Recall
Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox & Mel Johnson, Jr.. It is based on the Philip K. Dick story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”...

(1990
1990 in film
The year 1990 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* CGI technique is expanded with motion capture for CGI characters, used in Total Recall .* The first digitally-manipulated matte painting is used, in Die Hard 2....

), The Lawnmower Man (1992
1992 in film
The year 1992 in film involved many significant films. -Top grossing films:-Awards:Academy AwardsGolden Globe AwardsNational Film Awards...

), and The Matrix
The Matrix
The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction-action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving...

(1999
1999 in film
The year 1999 in film involved several noteworthy events and has been called "The Year That Changed Movies". Several significant feature films, including Stanley Kubrick's final film Eyes Wide Shut, Pedro Almodóvar's first Oscar-winning film All About My Mother, science fiction The Matrix, Deep...

). Other themes included disaster films (e.g., Armageddon and Deep Impact
Deep Impact (film)
Deep Impact is a 1998 science-fiction disaster-drama film released by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks in the United States on May 8, 1998. The film was directed by Mimi Leder and stars Robert Duvall, Elijah Wood, Téa Leoni, and Morgan Freeman...

both from 1998
1998 in film
-Events:* February 14 - Sharon Stone marries Phil Bronstein.* Former child star Gary Coleman is charged with assaulting a young female bus driver at a California shopping mall.-Top grossing films:...

), alien invasion (e.g., Independence Day
Independence Day (film)
Independence Day is a 1996 science fiction film about an alien invasion of Earth, focusing on a disparate group of individuals and families as they converge in the Nevada desert and, along with the rest of the human population, participate in a last-chance counterattack on July 4 – the same...

from 1996
1996 in film
Major releases this year included Scream, Independence Day, Fargo, Trainspotting, The English Patient, Twister, Mars Attacks!, Jerry Maguire and a version of Evita starring Madonna.-Events:...

) and genetic experimentation (e.g., Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park (film)
Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. It stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Martin Ferrero, and Bob Peck...

from 1993
1993 in film
The year 1993 in film involved many significant films, including the blockbuster hits Jurassic Park, The Fugitive and The Firm. -Events:...

 and Gattaca
Gattaca
Gattaca is a 1997 science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It stars Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law with supporting roles played by Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Gore Vidal and Alan Arkin....

from 1997
1997 in film
-Events:* The original Star Wars trilogy's Special Editions are released.* Production begins on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.* Titanic becomes the first film to gross US$1,000,000,000 at the box office making it the highest grossing film in history until Avatar broke the record in 2010.*...

).

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
Jurassic Park (film)
Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. It stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Martin Ferrero, and Bob Peck...

) 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
Ghost in the Shell (film)
"See You Everyday" is different from the rest of the soundtrack, being a pop song sung in Cantonese by Fang Ka Wing. It can be faintly heard playing in the marketplace scene, when Batou is hunting the ghost-hacked puppet....

(1995) from Japan, and The Iron Giant
The Iron Giant
The Iron Giant is a 1999 animated film produced by Warner Bros. Animation, based on the 1968 novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. Brad Bird directed the film, which stars a voice cast of Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr., Vin Diesel, Eli Marienthal, Christopher McDonald and John Mahoney...

(1999) from the US.

During the first decade of the 2000s, superhero film
Superhero film
A superhero film, superhero movie, or superhero motion picture is: action, fantasy and science fiction film; that is focused on the actions of one or more superheroes, individuals who usually possess superhuman abilities relative to a normal person and are dedicated to protecting the public...

s abounded, as did earthbound science fiction such as the Matrix trilogy. In 2005
2005 in film
- Highest-grossing films :Please note that following the tradition of the English-language film industry, these are the top-grossing films that were first released in the United States in 2005...

, the Star Wars saga was completed with the darkly themed Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a 2005 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the sixth and final film released in the Star Wars saga and the third in terms of the series' internal chronology....

. Science-fiction also returned as a tool for political commentary in films such as A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report
Minority Report (film)
Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick. It is set primarily in Washington, D.C...

, Sunshine
Sunshine (2007 film)
Sunshine is a 2007 British science fiction film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland about the crew of a spacecraft on a dangerous mission to the Sun. In 2057, with the Earth in peril from the dying Sun, the crew is sent to reignite the Sun with a massive stellar bomb with the mass...

, District 9
District 9
District 9 is a 2009 South African science fiction thriller film directed by Neill Blomkamp. It was written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, and produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham. The film stars Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and David James...

, Children of Men
Children of Men
Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction film loosely adapted from P. D. James's 1992 novel The Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. In 2027, two decades of human infertility have left society on the brink of collapse. Illegal immigrants seek sanctuary in England, where the last...

, Serenity
Serenity (film)
Serenity is a 2005 space western film written and directed by Joss Whedon. It is a continuation of the short-lived 2002 Fox science fiction television series Firefly, taking place after the events of the final episode. Set in 2518, Serenity is the story of the captain and crew of a cargo ship...

and Pandorum
Pandorum
Pandorum is a 2009 German-British science fiction thriller film written by Travis Milloy, directed by Christian Alvart and produced by Paul W.S. Anderson. The film stars Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. Filming began in Berlin in August 2008. Pandorum was released on September 25, 2009 in the United...

.

Themes, imagery, and visual elements


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
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

, magic, or the supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

, considered by some to be more properly elements of fantasy or the occult (or religious) film. This transforms the movie genre into a science fantasy with a religious or quasi-religious philosophy serving as the driving motivation. The movie Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet is a 1956 science fiction film directed by Fred M. Wilcox, with a screenplay by Cyril Hume. It stars Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, and Anne Francis. The characters and its setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and its plot contains certain...

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. In the film this part of the primitive mind manifests itself as monstrous destructive force emanating from the freudian subconscious, or "Id".

Some films blur the line between the genres, such as films where the protagonist gains the extraordinary powers of the superhero
Superhero
A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

. These films usually employ a quasi-plausible reason for the hero gaining these powers.

Not all science fiction themes
Science fiction themes
-Overarching themes:*Cosmology*Creation of the Universe*The future *History **Alternate history **Historical cycles: history repeating itself **Scientific prediction of the future **Secret history*Language...

 are equally suitable for movies. In addition to science fiction horror, space opera
Space opera
Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap...

 is most common. Often enough, these films could just as well pass as westerns
Western (genre)
The Western is a genre of various visual arts, such as film, television, radio, literature, painting and others. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, hence the name. Some Westerns are set as early as the Battle of...

 or World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 films if the science fiction props were removed. Common motifs also include voyages and expeditions to other planets, and dystopia
Dystopia
A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

s, while utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

s are rare.

Imagery


Film theorist Vivian Sobchack
Vivian Sobchack
Vivian Sobchack is an American cinema and media theorist and cultural critic.Sobchack's work on science fiction films and phenomenology of film is perhaps her most recognized. She is a prolific writer however, and has authored numerous books and articles across a diverse range of subjects; from...

 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 sf 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. 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. More subtle visual clues can appear with changes of the human form through modifications in appearance, size, or behavior, or by means a known environment turned eerily alien, such as an empty city.

Scientific elements


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
Spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 maneuvering in outer space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

. The vacuum
Vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 should preclude the transmission of sound
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

 or maneuvers employing wings, yet the sound track is filled with inappropriate flying noises and changes in flight path resembling an aircraft banking. The film makers, unfamiliar with the specifics of space travel
Spaceflight
Spaceflight is the act of travelling into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft which may, or may not, have humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the Russian Soyuz program, the U.S. Space shuttle program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station...

, 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. Entire planet
Planet
A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

s are destroyed in titanic explosions requiring mere seconds, whereas an actual event of this nature would likely take 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. Starting with Dr. Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

, the mad scientist
Mad scientist
A mad scientist is a stock character of popular fiction, specifically science fiction. The mad scientist may be villainous or antagonistic, benign or neutral, and whether insane, eccentric, or simply bumbling, mad scientists often work with fictional technology in order to forward their schemes, if...

 became a stock character
Stock character
A Stock character is a fictional character based on a common literary or social stereotype. Stock characters rely heavily on cultural types or names for their personality, manner of speech, and other characteristics. In their most general form, stock characters are related to literary archetypes,...

 who posed a dire threat to society and perhaps even civilization. Certain portrayals of the "mad scientist", such as Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers
Richard Henry Sellers, CBE , known as Peter Sellers, was a British comedian and actor. Perhaps best known as Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther film series, he is also notable for playing three different characters in Dr...

's performance in Dr. Strangelove, have become iconic to the genre. In the monster films of the 1950s, the scientist often played a heroic role as the only person who could provide a technological fix
Technological fix
A technological fix or technical fix refers to an engineering or technical solution to a problem caused by human nature. Frequently the solution is an impractical and/or humorous proposal such as the Internet Protocol Evil bit or the "suitable application of high explosives" to interpersonal problems...

 for some impending doom. Reflecting the distrust of government that began in the 1960s in the U.S., the brilliant but rebellious scientist became a common theme, often serving a Cassandra
Cassandra
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy...

-like role during an impending disaster.

Alien life forms



The concept of life, particularly intelligent life, having an extraterrestrial origin is a popular staple of science fiction films. Early films often used alien life forms as a threat or peril to the human race, where the invaders were frequently fictional representations of actual military or political threats on Earth. Later some aliens were represented as benign and even beneficial in nature in such films as Escape to Witch Mountain
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975 film)
Escape to Witch Mountain is a 1975 film based on the novel Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions, released by Buena Vista Distribution Company and directed by John Hough.- Plot :...

, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Melissa Mathison and starring Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote...

, and Close Encounters.

In order to provide subject matter to which audiences can relate, the large majority of intelligent alien races presented in films have an anthropomorphic
Anthropomorphism
Anthropomorphism is any attribution of human characteristics to animals, non-living things, phenomena, material states, objects or abstract concepts, such as organizations, governments, spirits or deities. The term was coined in the mid 1700s...

 nature, possessing human emotions and motivations. In films like Contact
Contact (film)
Contact is a 1997 American science fiction drama film adapted from the Carl Sagan novel of the same name and directed by Robert Zemeckis. Both Sagan and wife Ann Druyan wrote the story outline for the film adaptation of Contact....

, The Box and The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 1951 American science fiction film directed by Robert Wise and written by Edmund H. North based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates. The film stars Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Sam Jaffe, and Hugh Marlowe...

, the aliens were nearly human in physical appearance, and communicated in a common earth tongue. A few films have tried to represent intelligent aliens as something utterly different from the usual humanoid shape (e.g. An intelligent life form surrounding an entire planet in Solaris
Solaris (1972 film)
Solaris is a 1972 film adaptation of the novel Solaris , directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The film is a meditative psychological drama occurring mostly aboard a space station orbiting the fictional planet Solaris. The scientific mission has stalled, because the scientist crew have fallen to...

, the ball shaped creature in Dark Star
Dark Star (film)
Dark Star is a 1974 American comedic science fiction motion picture directed by John Carpenter and co-written with Dan O'Bannon.-Backstory and plot:...

).

Disaster films



A frequent theme among science fiction films is that of impending or actual disaster on an epic scale. These often address a particular concern of the writer by serving as a vehicle of warning against a type of activity, including technological research. In the case of alien invasion films, the creatures can provide as a stand-in for a feared foreign power.

Disaster films typically fall into the following general categories:
  • Alien invasion — hostile extraterrestrial
    Extraterrestrial life in popular culture
    In popular cultures, "extraterrestrials" are life forms — especially intelligent life forms— that are of extraterrestrial origin .-Historical ideas:-Pre-modern:...

    s arrive and seek to supplant humanity. They are either overwhelmingly powerful or very insidious. Typical examples include The War of the Worlds (1953 film)
    The War of the Worlds (1953 film)
    The War of the Worlds is a 1953 science fiction film starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson. It was the first on-screen loose adaptation of the H. G. Wells classic novel of the same name...

    and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 film)
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 film)
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 US-American science fiction film directed by Don Siegel, starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. Daniel Mainwaring adapted the screenplay from Jack Finney's novel The Body Snatchers...

    .
  • Environmental disaster — such as major climate change, or an asteroid
    Asteroid
    Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

     or comet
    Comet
    A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet...

     strike. Movies that have employed this theme include Soylent Green
    Soylent Green
    Soylent Green is a 1973 American science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer. Starring Charlton Heston, the film overlays the police procedural and science fiction genres as it depicts the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman in a dystopian future suffering from pollution,...

    (1973) and Waterworld
    Waterworld
    Waterworld is a 1995 post-apocalyptic science fiction film. The film was directed by Kevin Reynolds and co-written by Peter Rader and David Twohy. It is based on Rader's original 1986 screenplay and stars Kevin Costner, who also produced it. It was distributed by Universal Pictures...

    (1995).
  • Man supplanted by technology — typically in the form of an all-powerful computer
    Computer
    A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

    , advanced robot
    Robot
    A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

    s or cyborg
    Cyborg
    A cyborg is a being with both biological and artificial parts. The term was coined in 1960 when Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline used it in an article about the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space. D. S...

    s, or else genetically-modified humans or animals. Among the films in this category are The Terminator
    The Terminator
    The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, co-written by Cameron and William Wisher Jr., and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. The film was produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures, and filmed in Los...

    (1984) and The Matrix
    The Matrix
    The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction-action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving...

    (1999).
  • Nuclear war — usually in the form of a dystopic
    Dystopia
    A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

    , post-holocaust tale of grim survival. Examples of such a storyline can be found in the movies Dr. Strangelove (1964), Planet of the Apes
    Planet of the Apes (1968 film)
    Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison...

    (1968), A Boy and His Dog
    A Boy and His Dog
    A Boy and His Dog is a cycle of narratives and films including or stemming from works of science fiction author Harlan Ellison.Ellison began the cycle with the 1969 short story of the same title, and a revised and expanded novella-length version was published in Ellison's story collection The Beast...

    (1975) and Mad Max
    Mad Max
    Mad Max is a 1979 Australian dystopian action film directed by George Miller and revised by Miller and Byron Kennedy over the original script by James McCausland. The film stars Mel Gibson, who was unknown at the time. Its narrative based around the traditional western genre, Mad Max tells a story...

    (1979).
  • Pandemic — a highly lethal disease
    Disease
    A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

    , often one created by man, threatens or wipes out most of humanity in a massive plague
    Pandemic
    A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic...

    . This topic has been treated in such films as The Andromeda Strain
    The Andromeda Strain (film)
    The Andromeda Strain is a 1971 American science-fiction film, based on the novel published in 1969 by Michael Crichton. The film is about a team of scientists who investigate a deadly organism of extraterrestrial origin that causes rapid, fatal blood clotting. Directed by Robert Wise, the film...

    (1971), The Omega Man
    The Omega Man
    The Omega Man is a 1971 American science fiction film directed by Boris Sagal and starring Charlton Heston. It is based on the novel I Am Legend by American writer Richard Matheson...

    (1971), and 12 Monkeys (1995).

Monster films



While monster films do not usually depict danger on a global or epic scale, science fiction film also has a long tradition of movies featuring monster attacks. These differ from similar films in the horror or fantasy genres because science fiction films typically rely on a scientific (or at least pseudo-scientific) rationale for the monster's existence, rather than a supernatural or magical reason. Often, the science fiction film monster is created, awakened, or "evolves" because of the machinations of a mad scientist, a nuclear accident, or a scientific experiment gone awry. Typical examples include The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a 1953 science fiction film directed by Eugène Lourié and stars Paul Christian, Paula Raymond and Cecil Kellaway with visual effects by Ray Harryhausen. The film is about an atomic bomb test in the Arctic Circle that unfreezes a hibernating fictional dinosaur, a...

(1953), Cloverfield
Cloverfield
Cloverfield is a 2008 American disaster-monster film directed by Matt Reeves, produced by J. J. Abrams and written by Drew Goddard.The film follows six young New Yorkers attending a going-away party on the night that a gigantic monster attacks the city...

and the Godzilla
Godzilla (film series)
Original movie poster for [[Godzilla |Godzilla]].|thumb is a popular series of giant monster films featuring the character Godzilla. Starting in 1954, the Godzilla series has become one of the longest running film series in movie history....

series of films.

Mind and identity


The core mental aspects
Mind
The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent...

 of what makes us human has been a staple of science fiction films, particularly since the 1980s. Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K...

examined what made an organic-creation a human, while the RoboCop
RoboCop
RoboCop is a 1987 American science fiction-action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan in the near future, RoboCop centers on a police officer who is brutally murdered and subsequently re-created as a super-human cyborg known as "RoboCop"...

series saw an android mechanism fitted with the brain and reprogrammed mind of a human to create a cyborg
Cyborg
A cyborg is a being with both biological and artificial parts. The term was coined in 1960 when Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline used it in an article about the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space. D. S...

. The idea of brain transfer was not entirely new to science fiction film, as the concept of the "mad scientist
Mad scientist
A mad scientist is a stock character of popular fiction, specifically science fiction. The mad scientist may be villainous or antagonistic, benign or neutral, and whether insane, eccentric, or simply bumbling, mad scientists often work with fictional technology in order to forward their schemes, if...

" transferring the human mind to another body is as old as Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

.

Films such as Total Recall
Total Recall
Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox & Mel Johnson, Jr.. It is based on the Philip K. Dick story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”...

have popularized a thread of films that explore the concept of reprogramming the human mind. The theme of brainwashing in several films of the sixties and seventies including A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange (film)
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. It was written, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick...

and The Manchurian Candidate
The Manchurian Candidate (1962 film)
The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American Cold War political thriller film starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and Angela Lansbury, and featuring Henry Silva, James Gregory, Leslie Parrish and John McGiver...

coincided with secret real-life government experimentation during Project MKULTRA
Project MKULTRA
Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a covert, illegal CIA human experimentation program, run by the CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence. This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s, continued at least through the late 1960s, and used U.S...

. Voluntary erasure of memory is further explored as themes of the films Paycheck
Paycheck (film)
Paycheck is a 2003 film adaptation of the short story of the same name by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The film was directed by John Woo and stars Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman and Aaron Eckhart...

and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science fiction film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, scripted by Charlie Kaufman and directed by the French director, Michel Gondry. The film uses elements of science fiction, psychological...

. The anime series Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain is an anime series directed by Ryutaro Nakamura, original character design by Yoshitoshi ABe, screenplay written by Chiaki J. Konaka, and produced by Yasuyuki Ueda for Triangle Staff. It was broadcast on TV Tokyo from July to September 1998...

also explores the idea of reprogrammable reality and memory.

The idea that a human could be entirely represented as a program in a computer was a core element of the film Tron
Tron
-Film:*Tron , a franchise that began in 1982 with the Walt Disney Pictures film Tron** Tron , a 1982 science fiction film by Disney, starring Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Cindy Morgan, Dan Shor and David Warner...

. This would be further explored in the film version of The Lawnmower Man, and the idea reversed in Virtuosity
Virtuosity
Virtuosity is a 1995 techno-thriller film directed by Brett Leonard. The movie tells the story of a virtual villain's successful attempt to escape into the "real world". SID 6.7, the villain program portrayed by Russell Crowe, is eventually transplanted into an android body and escapes...

as computer programs sought to become real persons. In the Matrix
The Matrix
The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction-action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving...

series, the virtual reality
Virtual reality
Virtual reality , also known as virtuality, is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds...

 world became a real world prison for humanity, managed by intelligent machines. In eXistenZ
EXistenZ
eXistenZ is a 1999 body horror/science fiction film by Canadian director David Cronenberg. It stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law....

, the nature of reality and virtual reality become intermixed with no clear distinguishing boundary.

Robots


Robot
Robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

s have been a part of science fiction since the Czech playwright Karel Čapek
Karel Capek
Karel Čapek was Czech writer of the 20th century.-Biography:Born in 1890 in the Bohemian mountain village of Malé Svatoňovice to an overbearing, emotional mother and a distant yet adored father, Čapek was the youngest of three siblings...

 coined the word in 1921. In early films, robots were usually played by a human actor in a boxy metal suit, as in The Phantom Empire
The Phantom Empire
The Phantom Empire, starring Gene Autry the Singing Cowboy, was a 12-chapter 1935 Mascot serial that combined the western, musical, and science fiction genres. The first episode is 30 mins, the rest about 20 minutes...

, although the female robot in Metropolis
Metropolis (film)
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and...

is an exception. The first depiction of a sophisticated robot in a United States film was in The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 1951 American science fiction film directed by Robert Wise and written by Edmund H. North based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates. The film stars Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Sam Jaffe, and Hugh Marlowe...

.

Robots in films are often sentient and sometimes sentimental, and they have filled a range of roles in science fiction films. Robots have been supporting characters, such as Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet is a 1956 science fiction film directed by Fred M. Wilcox, with a screenplay by Cyril Hume. It stars Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, and Anne Francis. The characters and its setting have been compared to those in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and its plot contains certain...

, sidekicks (e.g., C-3PO
C-3PO
C-3PO is a robot character from the Star Wars universe who appears in both the original Star Wars films and the prequel trilogy. He is also a major character in the television show Droids, and appears frequently in the series' "Expanded Universe" of novels, comic books, and video games...

 and R2-D2
R2-D2
R2-D2 , is a character in the Star Wars universe. An astromech droid, R2-D2 is a major character throughout all six Star Wars films. Along with his droid companion C-3PO, he joins or supports Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Obi-Wan Kenobi in various points in the saga...

 from Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

), and extras, visible in the background to create a futuristic setting. As well, robots have been formidable movie villains or monsters (e.g., the robot Box in the 1976 film Logan's Run
Logan's Run (1976 film)
Logan's Run is a 1976 science fiction film based on the novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. It depicts a dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources are managed and maintained in equilibrium by the simple expediency of killing...

. In some cases, robots have even been the leading characters in science fiction films; in the 1982 film Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K...

, many of the characters are bioengineered android "replicant
Replicant
A replicant is a bioengineered or biorobotic being created in the film Blade Runner . The Nexus series—genetically designed by the Tyrell Corporation—are virtually identical to an adult human, but have superior strength, agility, and variable intelligence depending on the model...

s".

Films like Bicentennial Man
Bicentennial Man (film)
Bicentennial Man is a 1999 American drama and science fiction film starring Robin Williams and Sam Neill. Based on the novel The Positronic Man, co-written by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg which is itself based on Asimov's original novella titled The Bicentennial Man, the plot explores issues...

and A.I. Artificial Intelligence depicted the emotional fallouts of robots that are self aware.

One popular theme in science fiction film is whether robots will someday replace humans, a question raised in the film adaptation of Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

's I, Robot
I, Robot
I, Robot is a collection of nine science fiction short stories by Isaac Asimov, first published by Gnome Press in 1950 in an edition of 5,000 copies. The stories originally appeared in the American magazines Super Science Stories and Astounding Science Fiction between 1940 and 1950. The stories are...

, or whether intelligent robots could develop a conscience and a motivation to take over or destroy the human race (as depicted in The Terminator
The Terminator
The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, co-written by Cameron and William Wisher Jr., and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. The film was produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures, and filmed in Los...

).

Time travel



The concept of time travel
Time travel
Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

—travelling backwards and forwards through time—has always been a popular staple of science fiction film and science fiction television series. Time travel usually involves the use of some type of advanced technology, such as H. G. Wells' classic The Time Machine
The Time Machine
The Time Machine is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 for the first time and later adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction...

, or the commercially successful 1980s-era Back to the Future trilogy. Other movies, such as the Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes (1968 film)
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison...

series, explained their depictions of time travel by drawing on physics concepts such as the Special relativity
Special relativity
Special relativity is the physical theory of measurement in an inertial frame of reference proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein in the paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies".It generalizes Galileo's...

 phenomenon of time dilation (which could occur if a spaceship was travelling near the speed of light). Some films show time travel not being attained from advanced technology, but rather from an inner source or personal power, such as the 2000s-era films Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko is a 2001 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena Malone, and Mary McDonnell...

and The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect is a 2004 American sci-fi psychological thriller film that is written and directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber and starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart...

.

More conventional time travel movies use technology to bring the past to life in the present, or in a present that lies in our future. The film Iceman
Iceman (film)
Iceman is a 1984 science fiction film from Universal Studios. The screenplay was written by John Drimmer and Chip Proser, and was directed by Fred Schepisi. The cast included John Lone, Timothy Hutton, Lindsay Crouse and Danny Glover....

(1984) told the story of the reanimation of a frozen Neanderthal
Neanderthal
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia...

. The film Freejack
Freejack
Freejack is a 1992 science fiction film directed by Geoff Murphy, starring Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo, Jonathan Banks, Grand L. Bush and Anthony Hopkins. Upon its release in the United States, the film received mostly negative reviews. The story was adapted from Immortality, Inc., a...

(1992) shows time travel used to pull victims of horrible deaths forward in time a split-second before their demise, and then use their bodies for spare parts.

A common theme in time travel film is the paradoxical nature of travelling through time. In the French New Wave
French New Wave
The New Wave was a blanket term coined by critics for a group of French filmmakers of the late 1950s and 1960s, influenced by Italian Neorealism and classical Hollywood cinema. Although never a formally organized movement, the New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of...

 film La jetée
La Jetée
La jetée is a 1962 French science fiction film by Chris Marker. It is also known in English as The Jetty or The Pier. Constructed almost entirely from still photos, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel. The film runs for 28 minutes and is in black and white...

(1962), director Chris Marker
Chris Marker
Chris Marker is a French writer, photographer, documentary film director, multimedia artist and film essayist. His best known films are La jetée , A Grin Without a Cat , Sans Soleil and AK , an essay film on the Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa...

 depicts the self-fulfilling aspect of a person being able to see their future by showing a child who witnesses the death of his future self. La Jetée was the inspiration for 12 Monkeys, (1995) director Terry Gilliam
Terry Gilliam
Terrence Vance "Terry" Gilliam is an American-born British screenwriter, film director, animator, actor and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. Gilliam is also known for directing several films, including Brazil , The Adventures of Baron Munchausen , The Fisher King , and 12 Monkeys...

's film about time travel, memory, and madness. The Back to the Future
Back to the Future
Back to the Future is a 1985 American science-fiction adventure film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson. The film tells the story of...

series goes one step further and explores the result of altering the past, while in Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: First Contact is the eighth feature film in the Star Trek science fiction franchise, released in November 1996, by Paramount Pictures. First Contact is the first film in the franchise to feature no cast members from the original Star Trek television series of the 1960s...

(1996) the crew must rescue the Earth from having its past altered by time-travelling cyborg
Cyborg
A cyborg is a being with both biological and artificial parts. The term was coined in 1960 when Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline used it in an article about the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space. D. S...

s.

Genre as commentary on social issues


The science fiction film genre has long served as a useful vehicle for "safely" discussing controversial topical issues and often providing thoughtful social commentary on potential unforeseen future issues. Presentation of issues that are difficult or disturbing for an audience, can be made more acceptable when they are explored in a future setting or on a different, earth-like world. The altered context can allow for deeper examination and reflection of the ideas presented, with the perspective of a viewer watching remote events. Most controversial issues in science fiction films tend to fall into two general story lines, Utopian or dystopia
Dystopia
A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

n. Either a society will become better or worse in the future. Because of controversy, most science fiction films will fall into the dystopian film category rather than the Utopian category.

The types of commentary and controversy presented in science fiction films often illustrate the particular concerns of the periods in which they were produced. Early science fiction films expressed fears about automation replacing workers and the dehumanization of society through science and technology. For example, 1951's The Man in the White Suit
The Man in the White Suit
The Man In The White Suit is a 1951 satirical comedy film made by Ealing Studios. It starred Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, and Cecil Parker, and was directed by Alexander Mackendrick. It followed a common Ealing Studios theme of the "common man" against the Establishment...

used a science fiction concept as a means to satirize postwar British "establishment" conservatism, industrial capitalists, and trade unions. Later films explored the fears of environmental catastrophe or technology-created disasters, and how they would impact society and individuals (i.e. Soylent Green
Soylent Green
Soylent Green is a 1973 American science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer. Starring Charlton Heston, the film overlays the police procedural and science fiction genres as it depicts the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman in a dystopian future suffering from pollution,...

).

The monster movies of the 1950s—like Godzilla
Godzilla (1954 film)
is a 1954 Japanese science fiction film directed by Ishirō Honda and produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka. The film stars Akira Takarada, Momoko Kōchi, Akihiko Hirata and Takashi Shimura. The film tells the story of Godzilla, a giant monster mutated by nuclear radiation, who ravages Japan, bringing back the...

(1954)—served as stand-ins for fears of nuclear war
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

, communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 and views on the cold war
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. In the 1970s, science fiction films also became an effective way of satirizing contemporary social mores with Silent Running
Silent Running
Silent Running is a 1972 environmentally themed science fiction film starring Bruce Dern and directed by Douglas Trumbull, who had previously worked as a special effects supervisor on such science fiction films as 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Andromeda Strain.-Plot summary:Silent Running depicts a...

and Dark Star
Dark Star (film)
Dark Star is a 1974 American comedic science fiction motion picture directed by John Carpenter and co-written with Dan O'Bannon.-Backstory and plot:...

presenting hippies in space as a riposte to the militaristic types that had dominated earlier films. Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career...

's A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange (film)
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. It was written, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick...

presented a horrific vision of youth culture, portraying a youth gang engaged in rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 and murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

, along with disturbing scenes of forced psychological conditioning
Classical conditioning
Classical conditioning is a form of conditioning that was first demonstrated by Ivan Pavlov...

 serving to comment on societal responses to crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

.

Logan's Run
Logan's Run (1976 film)
Logan's Run is a 1976 science fiction film based on the novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. It depicts a dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources are managed and maintained in equilibrium by the simple expediency of killing...

depicted a futuristic swingers
Swinging
Swinging or partner swapping is a non-monogamous behavior, in which both partners in a committed relationship agree, as a couple, for both partners to engage in sexual activities with other couples as a recreational or social activity...

 utopia that practiced euthanasia as a form of population control and The Stepford Wives
The Stepford Wives (1975 film)
The Stepford Wives is a 1975 science fiction–thriller film based on the 1972 Ira Levin novel of the same name. It was directed by Bryan Forbes with a screenplay by William Goldman, and stars Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, Peter Masterson, Nanette Newman and Tina Louise...

anticipated a reaction to the women's liberation movement
Women's liberation movement
The Women's Liberation Movement was a political movement, born in the 1960s from Second-Wave Feminism.It generated mythology almost before it was born such as bra burning - and it was allegedly a matter of deep concern to those within it at the time that its history would allegedly be rewritten...

. Enemy Mine
Enemy Mine (film)
Enemy Mine is a 1985 science fiction film based on the story of the same title by Barry B. Longyear. It was produced by 20th Century Fox, directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and starred Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr...

demonstrated that the foes we have come to hate are often just like us, even if they appear alien.

Contemporary science fiction films continue to explore social and political issues. One recent example would be 2002's Minority Report
Minority Report (film)
Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick. It is set primarily in Washington, D.C...

, debuting in the months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and focused on the issues of police powers, privacy and civil liberties in the near-future United States. Some like Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go (2010 film)
Never Let Me Go is a 2010 British dystopian drama film based on Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Mark Romanek from a screenplay by Alex Garland. Never Let Me Go is set in an alternate history and centers on Kathy, Ruth and Tommy who are portrayed by Carey...

explore the issues surrounding cloning.

More recently, the headlines surrounding events such as the Iraq War, international terrorism, the avian influenza scare, and U.S. anti-immigration laws
Opposition to immigration
Opposition to immigration is present in most nation-states with immigration, and has become a significant political issue in many countries. Immigration in the modern sense refers to movement of people from one nation-state to another, where they are not citizens. It is important to distinguish...

 have found their way into the consciousness of contemporary filmmakers. The 2006 film V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta (film)
V for Vendetta is a 2005 dystopian thriller film directed by James McTeigue and produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, who also wrote the screenplay. It is an adaptation of the V for Vendetta comic book by Alan Moore and David Lloyd...

drew inspiration from controversial issues such as The Patriot Act and the War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

, while science fiction thrillers such as Children of Men
Children of Men
Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction film loosely adapted from P. D. James's 1992 novel The Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. In 2027, two decades of human infertility have left society on the brink of collapse. Illegal immigrants seek sanctuary in England, where the last...

(also 2006) and District 9
District 9
District 9 is a 2009 South African science fiction thriller film directed by Neill Blomkamp. It was written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, and produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham. The film stars Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and David James...

(2009) commented on diverse social issues such as xenophobia
Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek words ξένος , meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος , meaning "fear."...

, propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

, and cognitive dissonance
Cognitive dissonance
Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying,...

. Avatar (2009) had remarkable resemblance to colonialism of native land, mining by multinational-corporations and the Iraq War.

Future Noir


Lancaster University
Lancaster University
Lancaster University, officially The University of Lancaster, is a leading research-intensive British university in Lancaster, Lancashire, England. The university was established by Royal Charter in 1964 and initially based in St Leonard's Gate until moving to a purpose-built 300 acre campus at...

 professor Jamaluddin Bin Aziz argues that as science fiction has evolved and expanded, it has fused with other film genres such as gothic
Gothic fiction
Gothic fiction, sometimes referred to as Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. Gothicism's origin is attributed to English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled "A Gothic Story"...

 thrillers and film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

. When science fiction integrates film noir elements, Bin Aziz calls the resulting hybrid form "future noir," a form which "... encapsulates a postmodern encounter with generic persistence, creating a mixture of irony, pessimism, prediction, extrapolation, bleakness and nostalgia." Future noir films such as Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K...

, Twelve Monkeys
Twelve Monkeys
12 Monkeys is a 1995 science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La jetée, and starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Plummer....

, Dark City
, and Children of Men
Children of Men
Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction film loosely adapted from P. D. James's 1992 novel The Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. In 2027, two decades of human infertility have left society on the brink of collapse. Illegal immigrants seek sanctuary in England, where the last...

use a protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

 who is "...increasingly dubious, alienated and fragmented", at once "dark and playful like the characters in Gibson’s Neuromancer
Neuromancer
Neuromancer is a 1984 novel by William Gibson, a seminal work in the cyberpunk genre and the first winner of the science-fiction "triple crown" — the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award. It was Gibson's debut novel and the beginning of the Sprawl trilogy...

",
yet still with the "...shadow of Philip Marlowe
Philip Marlowe
Philip Marlowe is a fictional character created by Raymond Chandler in a series of novels including The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. Marlowe first appeared under that name in The Big Sleep published in 1939...

..."

Future noir films that are set in a post-apocalyptic world "...restructure and re-represent society in a parody of the atmospheric world usually found in noir’s construction of a city — dark, bleak and beguiled." Future noir films often intermingle elements of the gothic thriller genre, such as Minority Report
Minority Report (film)
Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick. It is set primarily in Washington, D.C...

, which makes references to occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 practices, and Alien
Alien (film)
Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature which...

, with its tagline ‘In space, no one can hear you scream’, and a space vessel, Nostromo, “that hark[s] back to images of the haunted house in the gothic horror tradition.” Bin Aziz states that films such as James Cameron
James Cameron
James Francis Cameron is a Canadian-American film director, film producer, screenwriter, editor, environmentalist and inventor...

’s The Terminator
The Terminator
The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, co-written by Cameron and William Wisher Jr., and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. The film was produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures, and filmed in Los...

are a sub-genre of ‘techno noir’ that create "...an atmospheric feast of noir darkness and a double-edged world that is not what it seems."

Film versus literature


When compared to science fiction literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

, science fiction films often rely less on the human imagination and more upon action scenes and special effect-created alien creatures and exotic backgrounds. Since the 1970s, film audiences have come to expect a high standard for special effects in science fiction films. In some cases, science fiction-themed films superimpose an exotic, futuristic setting onto what would not otherwise be a science-fiction tale. Nevertheless, some critically acclaimed science fiction movies have followed in the path of science fiction literature, using story development to explore abstract concepts.

Influence of science fiction authors


Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

 was the first major science fiction author to be adapted for the screen with Melies Le Voyage dans la Lune
Le Voyage dans la Lune
A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French black-and-white silent science fiction film. It is based loosely on two popular novels of the time: Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon....

(1902) and 20,000 lieues sous les mers
20,000 lieues sous les mers (film)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a silent film made in 1907 by French director Georges Méliès, based loosely on the novel by Jules Verne of the same title. This became one of the first color films when it was hand tinted, frame by frame, by female factory workers....

(1907), which used Verne's scenarios as a framework for fantastic visuals. By the time Verne's work fell out of copyright in 1950 the adaptations were treated as period pieces. His works have been adapted a number of times since then, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954 film)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a 1954 adventure film starring Kirk Douglas as Ned Land, James Mason as Captain Nemo, Paul Lukas as Professor Pierre Aronnax, and Peter Lorre as Conseil. It was the first science fiction film produced by Walt Disney Productions, as well as the only science-fiction...

in 1954, From the Earth to the Moon
From the Earth to the Moon (film)
From the Earth to the Moon is a Technicolor science fiction film adaptation of the Jules Verne novel of the same name. It starred Joseph Cotten, George Sanders, Debra Paget, and Don Dubbins...

in 1958, and Journey to the Center of the Earth
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959 film)
Journey to the Center of the Earth is a 1959 adventure film adapted by Charles Brackett from the novel by Jules Verne. It stars Pat Boone, James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Peter Ronson, Diane Baker, Thayer David and Alan Napier...

in 1959.


H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

 novels The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man (1933 film)
The Invisible Man is a 1933 science fiction film based on H. G. Wells' science fiction novel The Invisible Man, published in 1897, as adapted by R. C. Sherriff, Philip Wylie and Preston Sturges, whose work was considered unsatisfactory and who was taken off the project...

, Things to Come
Things to Come
Things to Come is a British science fiction film produced by Alexander Korda and directed by William Cameron Menzies. The screenplay was written by H. G. Wells and is a loose adaptation of his own 1933 novel The Shape of Things to Come and his 1931 non-fiction work, The Work, Wealth and Happiness...

and The Island of Doctor Moreau
The Island of Doctor Moreau
The Island of Doctor Moreau is an 1896 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells. It is told from the point of view of a man named Edward Prendick who is shipwrecked, rescued by a passing boat, and then left at the ship's destination by the crew along with the ship's cargo of exotic animals...

were all adapted into films during his lifetime while The War of the Worlds was updated in 1953 and again in 2005, adapted to film at least four times altogether. The Time Machine
The Time Machine
The Time Machine is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 for the first time and later adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction...

has had two film versions (1961 and 2002) while Sleeper
Sleeper (film)
Sleeper is a 1973 futuristic science fiction comedy film, written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman, and directed by Allen. The plot involves the adventures of the owner of a Greenwich Village, NY health food store played by Woody Allen who is cryogenically frozen in 1973 and defrosted 200...

in part is a pastiche of Wells' 1910 novel The Sleeper Awakes
The Sleeper Awakes
The Sleeper Awakes is a dystopian novel by H. G. Wells about a man who sleeps for two hundred and three years, waking up in a completely transformed London, where, because of compound interest on his bank accounts, he has become the richest man in the world...

.

With the drop-off in interest in science fiction films during the 1940s, few of the 'golden age' science fiction authors made it to the screen. A novella by John W. Campbell
John W. Campbell
John Wood Campbell, Jr. was an influential figure in American science fiction. As editor of Astounding Science Fiction , from late 1937 until his death, he is generally credited with shaping the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction.Isaac Asimov called Campbell "the most powerful force in...

 provided the basis for The Thing from Another World
The Thing from Another World
The Thing from Another World , is a 1951 science fiction film based on the 1938 novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell . It tells the story of an Air Force crew and scientists at a remote Arctic research outpost who fight a malevolent plant-based alien being...

(1951). Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

 contributed to the screenplay for Destination Moon
Destination Moon (film)
Destination Moon is an American science fiction feature film produced by George Pal, who later produced When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds, and The Time Machine. Pal commissioned the script by James O'Hanlon and Rip Van Ronkel...

in 1950, but none of his major works were adapted for the screen until the 1990s: The Puppet Masters
The Puppet Masters (film)
The Puppet Masters is a 1994 science fiction film, adapted by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, and David S. Goyer from Robert A. Heinlein’s 1951 novel of the same title, in which a trio of American government agents attempts to thwart a covert invasion of Earth by mind-controlling alien parasites...

in 1994 and Starship Troopers
Starship Troopers (film)
Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science fiction film, written by Edward Neumeier , directed by Paul Verhoeven, loosely adapted from Starship Troopers, a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It is the only theatrically released film in the Starship Troopers franchise...

in 1997. Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

's fiction influenced the Star Wars and Star Trek films, but it was not until 1988 that a film version of one of his short stories (Nightfall) was produced. The first major motion picture adaptation of a full-length Asimov work was Bicentennial Man
Bicentennial Man (film)
Bicentennial Man is a 1999 American drama and science fiction film starring Robin Williams and Sam Neill. Based on the novel The Positronic Man, co-written by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg which is itself based on Asimov's original novella titled The Bicentennial Man, the plot explores issues...

(1999) (based on the short stories "Bicentennial Man" and "The Positronic Man", the latter co-written with Robert Silverberg), although 2004's I, Robot
I, Robot (film)
I, Robot is a 2004 science-fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay was written by Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman and Hillary Seitz, and is very loosely based on Isaac Asimov's short-story collection of the same name. Will Smith stars in the lead role of the film as Detective Del...

, a film loosely based on Asimov's book of short stories
I, Robot
I, Robot is a collection of nine science fiction short stories by Isaac Asimov, first published by Gnome Press in 1950 in an edition of 5,000 copies. The stories originally appeared in the American magazines Super Science Stories and Astounding Science Fiction between 1940 and 1950. The stories are...

 by the same name, drew more attention.

The adaptation of science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

's novel as 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

won the Academy Award for Visual Effects
Academy Award for Visual Effects
The Academy Award for Visual Effects is an Academy Award given for the best achievement in visual effects.-History of the award:The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first recognized the technical contributions of special effects to movies at its inaugural dinner in 1928, presenting a...

 and offered thematic complexity not typically associated with the science fiction genre at the time. Its sequel, 2010, was commercially successful but less highly regarded by critics. Reflecting the times, two earlier science fiction works by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury
Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer. Best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man , Bradbury is one of the most celebrated among 20th...

 were adapted for cinema in the 1960s with Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 (1966 film)
Fahrenheit 451 is a 1966 film directed by François Truffaut, in his first colour film as well as his only English-language film. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury....

and The Illustrated Man
The Illustrated Man
The Illustrated Man is a 1951 book of eighteen science fiction short stories by Ray Bradbury that explores the nature of mankind. While none of the stories has a plot or character connection with the next, a recurring theme is the conflict of the cold mechanics of technology and the psychology of...

. Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

's Slaughterhouse-Five
Slaughterhouse-Five (film)
Slaughterhouse-Five is a 1972 film based on Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name. The screenplay is by Stephen Geller and the film was directed by George Roy Hill. It stars Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine, and features Eugene Roche, Sharon Gans, Holly Near, and Perry King. The...

was filmed in 1971 and Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is a 1973 novel by the American author Kurt Vonnegut. Set in the fictional town of Midland City, it is the story of "two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast." One of these men, Dwayne Hoover, is a normal-looking but...

in 1998.

Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
Philip Kindred Dick was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered...

's fiction has been used in a number of science fiction films, in part because it evokes the paranoia that has been a central feature of the genre. Films based on Dick's works include Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K...

(1982), Total Recall
Total Recall
Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox & Mel Johnson, Jr.. It is based on the Philip K. Dick story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”...

(1990), Impostor
Impostor (film)
Impostor is a 2002 American science fiction film based upon a short story of the same name, written by Philip K. Dick in 1953.-Plot:The movie takes place in the year 2079. Forty-five years earlier, Earth was attacked by a hostile alien civilization from Alpha Centauri...

(2001), Minority Report
Minority Report (film)
Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick. It is set primarily in Washington, D.C...

(2002), Paycheck
Paycheck (film)
Paycheck is a 2003 film adaptation of the short story of the same name by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The film was directed by John Woo and stars Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman and Aaron Eckhart...

(2003), and A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly (film)
A Scanner Darkly is a 2006 science fiction thriller directed by Richard Linklater based on the novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick. The film tells the story of identity and deception in a near-future dystopia constantly under intrusive high-technology police surveillance in the midst of a drug...

(2006). These films are loose adaptations of the original story, with the exception of A Scanner Darkly, which is close to Dick's book.

See also



  • Science fiction
    Science fiction
    Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

     (novels and short stories)
  • List of science fiction films
  • List of dystopian films
  • List of films set in the future
  • Science fiction on television
    Science fiction on television
    Science fiction first appeared on a television program during the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Special effects and other production techniques allow creators to present a living visual image of an imaginary world not limited by the constraints of reality; this makes television an excellent medium...

  • Genres, subcategories and related topics to science fiction

  • Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film
    Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film
    The Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film is a Saturn Award given to the best film in the science fiction genre by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.-Winners:-External links:*...


Further reading

  • Welch Everman, Cult Science Fiction Films, Citadel Press, 1995
    1995 in literature
    The year 1995 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*The Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea is opened by Jimmy Carter....

    , ISBN 0-8065-1602-X.
  • Peter Guttmacher, Legendary Sci-Fi Movies, 1997
    1997 in literature
    The year 1997 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*Tom Clancy signs a book deal with Pearson Custom Publishing and Penguin Putnam Inc. , giving him US$50 million for the world-English rights to two new books . A second agreement gives him another US$25 million for a...

    , ISBN 1-56799-490-3.
  • Phil Hardy
    Phil Hardy (journalist)
    Phil Hardy is an English film and music industry journalist. He was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire in 1945 and studied at the University of Sussex, 1964-1969, during which time he was a visiting student at the Berkeley campus of the University of California . At Sussex he started The Brighton Film...

    , The Overlook Film Encyclopedia, Science Fiction. William Morrow and Company, New York, 1995
    1995 in literature
    The year 1995 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*The Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea is opened by Jimmy Carter....

    , ISBN 0-87951-626-7.
  • Richard S. Myers, S-F 2: A pictorial history of science fiction from 1975 to the present, 1984
    1984 in literature
    The year 1984 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*The book Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is widely read....

    , Citadel Press, ISBN 0-8065-0875-2.
  • Gregg Rickman, The Science Fiction Film Reader, 2004
    2004 in literature
    The year 2004 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:* Canada Reads selects Guy Vanderhaeghe's The Last Crossing to be read across the nation....

    , ISBN 0-87910-994-7.
  • Dave Saunders, Arnold: Schwarzenegger and the Movies, 2009
    2009 in literature
    The year 2009 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*8 October - Romanian-born German novelist Herta Müller wins the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature....

    , London, I. B. Tauris
  • Errol Vieth, Screening Science: Context, Text and Science in Fifties Science Fiction Film, Lanham, MD and London: Scarecrow Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8108-4023-5

External links