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Science Ficiton Film Genre Essay

2171 words - 9 pages

Science fiction films have been misunderstood at times to be simply, “films that feature rocketships" (Johnston 7). However, science-fiction is something that expands a much wider range than just a few flying saucers. Science-fiction films have long allowed for the exploration and discussion of controversial topics, providing us with insightful social commentary on current, or potential future issues. With a setting usually futuristic or similar to that present-day Earth, science-fiction are capable of addressing topics that usually would be taboo for discussion in another form. As Casper states in a section on Film Genres and The Genre Film, “the genre of science fiction establishes a sense of continuity between our cultural present and future” (Casper 284). This statement accurately poses the description as to why science-fiction as a genre is something that society will endlessly desire. Man-kind has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of our future, and through countless science fiction films, this desire is constantly reawakened. Though there are separations in the periods of film, there are common factors that remain indicating a genre film. By using examples drawn from the classical era War of the Worlds (1953) and modernist period The Andromeda Strain (1971), both science fiction genre films, I hope to provide both evidence to demonstrate the evolution of genre throughout history, while denoting reoccurring factors that have withstood change.
When discussing about the iconography of a film, essentially it is addressing the “inherent meaning or intrinsic significance of objects and characters within any generic community” (Casper 278). Iconography comes from the narrative and visual repetition of certain aspects in genre films. This repetition creates a recipe of sorts that is expected from films that fall into certain genres. Icons to not necessarily have to fall into visual aspect of of the film. Components of dialogue, music, and casting can all be non visual aspects that help create a genre’s iconography. During the classical period of films, “there is an argument (at least in 1950s films) for a shared iconography of missile-shaped rockets, flying saucers, and the ubiquitous star field…” (Johnston 9). These rockets, flying saucers, and star field are all widely seen in War of the Worlds, but not at all present in The Andromeda Strain. The presence of these icons in one film and not the other, can be explained by the fact that a genre’s iconography can be elucidated as a projection of culture’s ideology at the time. At the time of War of the Worlds, in the early 50s the Space Race had not yet begun, but there was a cultural impact that had begun to take over society’s impression of universal exploration. These interpretations by film makers resulted in the creation of these icons and their use throughout classical period in science fiction genre films.
The central conflicts present throughout science fiction genre films is war-a war...

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