Welcome back to the Weekly Watchlist, a rundown of all the things you should be watching.
This past week, Gareth Edwards, known for his work on films like “Monsters,” “Godzilla,” and “Rogue One,” brought “The Creator” to theaters. What’s especially remarkable about this film is the innovative approach to its production. Edwards and his team adopted a minimalistic crew, allowing them to travel to various locations around the world for shooting. They then collaborated with ILM’s VFX artists to transform these real-world settings into the science-fiction world of the film. The result is visually stunning and enabled them to create a large-scale blockbuster on a significantly reduced budget.
In light of “The Creator’s” groundbreaking production approach and its inspiration from classic science fiction, let’s explore some films that not only share its thematic elements but also pushed the boundaries of filmmaking techniques. And to fully embrace the cinematic roots of science fiction, we’ll pair them up for double-feature viewing.
5. THX 1138 (1971) and Star Wars (1977)
George Lucas, the creative mind behind iconic works like “Star Wars” and “American Graffiti,” made his debut in the world of filmmaking with a strikingly different and experimental piece of science fiction: “THX 1138.” This film, produced by Francis Ford Coppola’s innovative American Zoetrope production company, showcases Lucas’s early mastery of visual storytelling and use of experimental techniques.
“THX 1138” is considered one of cinematic history’s most influential science fiction films. George Lucas’s objective and surreal visual style, combined with Walter Murch’s boundary-pushing sound design, creates a unique and immersive experience for viewers.
Of course, George Lucas’s legacy extends beyond “THX 1138” to the beloved and iconic “Star Wars” franchise. It’s safe to say that “Star Wars” needs no introduction; it has become a cultural phenomenon in its own right.
4. Solaris (1972) and Stalker (1979)
Andrei Tarkovsky, a master of cinematic storytelling, has left an indelible mark on the world of science fiction with his films “Solaris” and “Stalker.” These movies are profound explorations of existentialism, dread, paranoia, and grief, and they continue to captivate and unsettle audiences decades after their release.
“Solaris” is a hauntingly existential masterpiece that gradually envelops viewers in its thought-provoking narrative. Tarkovsky’s skillful direction and storytelling have made this film a timeless classic, inviting audiences to ponder life’s deepest questions.
In “Stalker,” Tarkovsky delves even deeper into these themes, offering a graphically intimate and invasive examination of human nature. The film’s exploration of familial ties and loss resonates powerfully with viewers.
For those who have yet to experience Tarkovsky’s work, “Solaris” and “Stalker” are must-see films that showcase the profound impact of science fiction when they delve into the depths of the human experience.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stanley Kubrick, a true visionary in the world of cinema, has made an indelible mark on the science fiction genre. His films “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “A Clockwork Orange” are iconic works of art that continue to influence and inspire filmmakers today.
“2001: A Space Odyssey” stands as a trailblazing masterpiece, a monumental artistic achievement that redefined the possibilities of filmmaking. Its success significantly shaped the science fiction genre, influencing future classics like “Star Wars” and “Alien.” Kubrick’s meticulous attention to detail and groundbreaking visual effects left an indelible mark on the industry.
In contrast, “A Clockwork Orange” is a subversive and provocative exploration of human nature and societal norms. Kubrick’s ability to create a powerful cinematic experience with a smaller budget showcases his unparalleled creativity and artistic prowess.
These films, each unique in its own right, demonstrate Kubrick’s ability to push the boundaries of filmmaking and storytelling within the science fiction genre. They are a testament to his enduring legacy as one of the greatest directors in cinematic history.
2. Dark Star (1974) and Escape From New York (1981)
John Carpenter, a pioneer in low-budget science fiction filmmaking, significantly impacted the genre with his debut film, “Dark Star.” This film, created shortly after his college days, offered a unique and entertaining take on science fiction, blending humor and horror. Carpenter, along with Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon, successfully turned a seemingly ordinary beach ball with webbed feet into a source of both terror and hilarity.
In subsequent years, Carpenter continued to push the boundaries of science fiction on a limited budget. His high-concept masterpiece, “Escape From New York,” showcased his ambition and talent. Using real decaying buildings and expert production design, Carpenter created a dystopian New York with a grand sense of scale, delivering an unforgettable action-packed spectacle.
Carpenter’s ability to achieve captivating storytelling with limited resources solidified his reputation as a groundbreaking filmmaker in the science fiction genre. His work remains influential and continues to captivate audiences, demonstrating that compelling narratives can transcend budget constraints.
1. Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982)
Ridley Scott’s profound influence on the science fiction genre is undeniable, and it’s only fitting that both “Alien” and “Blade Runner” are featured in this discussion. These two films have left an unforgettable mark on the cinematic landscape of science fiction, shaping the genre for generations to come.
“Alien” and “Blade Runner” are both monumental achievements in their own right. For the ultimate experience, it’s recommended to watch the theatrical cut of “Alien,” as it’s considered by many, including Scott himself, to be the superior version. Additionally, “Blade Runner” offers multiple cuts, with the “final cut” being a highly regarded choice. These films showcase Scott’s mastery of storytelling and visual craftsmanship, setting a standard for the genre that continues to resonate with audiences.
Scott’s contributions to science fiction have forever altered the cinematic landscape, making “Alien” and “Blade Runner” essential viewing for anyone interested in the genre’s evolution and enduring impact.