Has the perfect SF movie been made? What is it?
If not, what would it take for a movie to be Perfect SF?
Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky
2001: A Space Odyssey
define perfect – does perfect exist?
@ Ben Stalker
Philosphical Questions = Win.
Best and probably most perfect, science fiction films:
- 2001: a Space Odyssey;
- Blade Runner;
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind;
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
and Starship Troopers
because fiction is a creative process it can never really be defined as perfect
there must be so much more 2 discover in (and outside :O) the universe and from other dimensions so there is lots of opportunity 2 explore and imagine new sci-fi
it might take people not being so influenced from old sci-fi 2 create innovative sci-fi
For me it’s Brazil. I know that’s a film a lot of people love to hate around here, but what do they know.
But is it “perfect SF?” Who cares about perfection? Imperfection is much more interesting.
OK… let me rephrase my second question from “…what would it take for a movie to be Perfect SF?” to “What do you look for in a really good SF movie?”
Alien by far
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
These three are my favorites, but none are perfect. Maybe if Alien had a longer scene where Ripley was in her underwear.
“Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with the impact of imagined innovations in science or technology, often in a futuristic setting. It differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a “literature of ideas”. Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possibilities. The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality, but the majority of science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief provided by potential scientific explanations to various fictional elements":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction
Does Stalker fit the above?
Silent Running probably does.
No, Stalker should not singularly be classified as science fiction but I’m ok with it being referred to as a sci fi film.
I think Moon excellent
The Day the Earth Stood Still is my favourite: it’s entertaining, well made, well acted, campy, and a wonderful symbol of the tensions that existed in the time it was made.
If you’ve read and seen enough Science Fiction you’ll know that the genre’s boundaries aren’t very clearly defined. We often find mixes with fantasy or even historical fiction (The Man in the High Castle’s alternative history, for instance). I usually don’t like to tag films that way, but if you mention sci-fi I’ll immediately think of works like Stalker.
The pefect science fiction movie may be Heart of Darkness set in space. But 2001 is pretty amazing though.
Voyage to the Moon, obvs.
Just kidding. If somebody asked me to pick a piece of fiction to represent science fiction to the whole world, and it had to be a movie, I’d definitely pick Blade Runner. It comes as close to perfect sci-fi as any film I can think of. The context is speculative, hi-tech, and humanistic, and in tone and theme, it’s notably universal: cynicism, war, cultural insensitivity, and scapegoating are human themes that will be relevant for a long time to come. The mystery of the Other is unsolvable, and runs deep into the depths of human psychology. Blade Runner weaves this mystery into stories of conflict, romance, and personal identity, all of which activate the theme in different ways.
It’s got the merits that sci-fi needs to be great: atmosphere and immersion, a future that’s alien and exotic, but self-consistent enough to feel familiar, and a compromised hero for its protagonist. It’s a masculine movie for what is at the moment (unfortunately) a pretty masculine genre. And it’s got good action hooks and epic drama, so it’s got the action-adventure-excitement quotient fulfilled, as well (and beats Kubrick and Tarkovsky in this respect, I think). This is more important than you might think, because science fiction is partly an update to the old adventure storytelling that engaged our wanderlust in the age of exploration. A little swashbuckling is a real asset.
I don’t think it’s a perfect movie, but if you take it according to the criteria of its genre, I think it’s as close as you’re gonna get to a perfect paradigm case.
I’ve always liked Quatermass and the Pit. Any other Quatermass fans?
I’m not sure I totally agree with Stalker. Solaris and The Sacrifice are way more sci-fi than that. The entire premise of The Sacrifice is WWIII and atomic war. Solaris is about man’s expansion into space, the fact that we have grown outside of our world so to speak. We may find the truth out there. But then they are also a mix of mysticism.
There’s elements of science fiction in all three of those Tarkovsky films, but Stalker is undeniably very much in the same vein as traditional sci-fi. Sure, Tarkovsky goes beyond that simple premise, but it’s still there. It’s mere presence doesn’t detract from the quality of the work. All of Tarkovsky’s films are fundamentally founded in his own philosophy and Stalker, the film, is much more concerned with exploring those avenues than the more predictable aspects of the state of the environment these characters find themselves in.
I wouldn’t say it was far-fetched calling Stalker science fiction because genres in general are insufficient in describing the totality of a work, so merely calling the film “anything” is short-changing it. However, if we regard such a label as merely a starting point, it’s not contradictory to what the film is and there are sci-fi elements within it, arguably.
That being said, I don’t think Stalker is very representative of the sci-fi genre on film because it goes off on it’s own tangent (not a criticism, I love Stalker, but it’s very much a Tarkovsky film) and kind of leaves the conventional aspects of that genre in the background. It’s a great film, but is it a great sci-fi film?
No film is perfect. But the closest sci-fi’s that are, are:
I must second Primer here. An extraordinarily thought provoking handling of the moral problems associated with having even a limited ability to manipulate events by means of an unintended scientific discovery. A fresh approach to visuals, despite the fact that they arose, it appears, more by necessity (the budget). Nevertheless, Carruth and his people were able to produce an engaging, watchable, and challenging approach to a subgenre that had been reduced, by and large, to a plot device. Best science fiction I’ve seen in years. I’ve been in long conversations with folks who dismissed it once they thought they “figured it out.” I can’t say that I fully grasp the multitude of implications arising from the story, but in the tradition of the best science fiction, I have one heck of a good time thinking about them.
“Primer” was great and I’m eagerly waiting for Carruth’s upcoming feature “A Topiary” (at least that’s the current title for the project).
OP changed to: “What do you look for in a really good SF movie?”
At a minimum this would suggest an understanding the elements of Sci Fi
Here are some rudimentary elements.
1 EVIDENCE OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY
_ may be alien or domestic
2. FUTURE TIME SETTING
_ may be alternate time setting or even past
3. ALTERNATE LOCATION SETTING
_ may be on another planet
_ may be under the oceans
_ may be another dimension of existence
_ may be on earth or other place
_ humans may have changed
_ humans may be on an alien planet
5. STRANGE POWERS
_ often aliens have strong mysterious powers
_ sometimes humans now have new powers or senses ex. ESP
6. SCIENCE IS IMPORTANT IN THE STORY SOMEHOW
_ may refer to technology or understanding of the world
Solaris fits into the above, no?
Stalker is anti-science, isn’t it?
Can an argument be made that the references to nature in Stalker are antithetical to scientific or technological progress in a Sci-Fi story?
Robert I pretty much agree with you except on the Alternate Location Setting. Robert Wises The Day The Earth Stood Still does not meet this criteria and yet imo qualifies as science fiction.
Here’s what the scientist says about the Zone:
01:00:16 —> 01:01:29
No, it’s just a bomb.Twenty kilotons.We had it assembled with my friends.
With my former colleagues.
This place will never bring any
happiness to anyone. But if this thing gets into the wrong
Though, I’m not sure any more. We came to the conclusion then…
that we shouldn’t destroy the Zone after all.
Even if it’s some miracle, it’s still part of nature,
and therefore, a hope in a sense.
They had hidden that bomb, and I’ve found it.
@Robert: Are you suggesting that the elements you list must all be present in order for a work to be classified as science fiction or merely some of those elements? I’m thinking the latter and on that train of thought, that “nature” is the cause/product/somehow related to the Zone would not disqualify Stalker as sci-fi. Stalker especially embodies #5 and #6 on your list. Is there no ‘science’ in nature?