Out of This World: Introduction

Posted by on Dec 22, 2011 in Out of This World | 0 comments


“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
Walt Disney

Imagine you’re in a movie theater. The lights go down, and the advertisements start. Twenty minutes later, the first preview begins. The gravel-voiced voiceover guy begins: “Ever since the dawn of man, he looked to the skies and thought of intelligent life on other planets.” Sound familiar? That’s because this cliché trailer starter leads off countless sci-fi flicks. Regardless of whether or not it’s true for mankind, in the case of the cinema we did have a fascination since Day 1, and it’s one that continues to this day.

We started in 1902 with A Trip to the Moon, historically recognized as the first piece of sci-fi cinema and as one of the longest pieces made at the time (14 minutes). From there, the possibilities have been endless for filmmakers and screenwriters. In the 50s we saw a long line of kitschy alien horror flicks, from what is considered the worst film of all time (Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space) to highly regarded pieces like The Day the Earth Stood Still, Them!, and The Thing From Another Planet. The Alien films justified increased budgets and today we see them in so-called blockbusters like War of the Worlds and Signs. When Invasion of the Body Snatchers used aliens as a metaphor for politics it opened up a whole new bag, which today can be traced to films like Avatar and Starship Troopers. Sci-fi has also been the basis for action flicks, from Planet of the Apes early on to loads of them today (Independence Day, Predator, The Fifth Element, Men in Black). Even the arthouse movement has dabbled in other worlds, with notables like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

But it wasn’t until two fellows came along named George Lucas and Steven Spielberg that filmmakers tapped into the youth market. After Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T., Hollywood started churning out dozens of alien movies and soon a new generation of space lovers was born. Though the good ones are few and far between, it’s hard to make it through Honey, I Shrunk the Kids without remembering the 50s kitsch of The Incredible Shrinking Man, or The Iron Giant without the political breakthrough of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

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