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Awakenings of SF cinema: the proto-SF film. According to Gregg Rickman, “As such, sf scarcely existed before the 19th Century, and as a specific, commercially viable genre, not until the rise of the sf pulps of the 1920s” (2004, p. xiv). Still according to Rickman,
Movies took longer – science fiction was not recognized as a commercial film genre by the Hollywood film industry until after 1950. After peaking in popularity in the 1950s, and declining in the early 1960s, the form resurged creatively in the later 1960s, and commercially in the later 1970s. For a quarter century since the release of both Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977, science fiction has been Hollywood's dominant genre, spinning off blockbuster after blockbuster as showcases, in particular, for the latest special effects. (2004, p. xiv)
Nevertheless, some SF elements in an embryonic state can be seen in films dating back as early as the invention of the cinematographer. Already in the Silent Era, and still in the 19th Century, a “proto-science fiction cinema” began to appear, in which we can identify the embryo of a genre that would later become the science fiction (SF) cinema of today. This prototypical form of SF production was deeply diluted by the broader context of fantasy films, making it even more difficult to distiguish between the two at the time.
In this sense and retrospectively, The Lumière Brothers' 1895 film The Mechanical Butcher (La caharcuterie méchanique) could be classified as one of the first proto-science fiction films prototypes because, at least before the 1930s, the term science fiction had not yet reached the
Assistant Professor of Film Studies at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil. Member of the Brazilian Society
for Film and Audiovisual Studies (SOCINE) and the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA).
necessary circulation to rename the literary genres already known as Extraordinary Voyages (Voyages Extraordinaires), Scientific Romance (Roman Scientifique) and, later, scientifiction.
In La Charcutérie Méchanique, a short film made up of only one shot, a pig is inserted in a machine that automatically provides sausages. The film was likely exhibited in reverse as well. According to Mark Bould,
The first twenty years of sf cinema were dominated by similar one-reel trick movies which exploited the basic special effects made possible by undercranking the camera, split screens, dissolves, stop-motion and reversed footage. Such narratives as these films possessed hinged on X-rays, elixirs, giant insects, flying bycicles, hair-restoring tonics, supercars, dirigibles, invisibility and the mysterious powers of electricity, magnetism and monkey glands. (Bould, 2003, p. 79)
As was usual at the time, La Charcuterie inspired a series of imitations in Europe and the U.S. The borders between documentary and proto-science fiction were rather thin at that moment. Exhibitors were free to select and organize film rolls to be projected in the order they wished, and this had an influence on the films' reception. Documentary, educational or promotional films could be shown among fiction films, something that altered the way in which spectators experienced these different genres.
Taking into account the publication of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine in parallel to the première of the Lumière cinematographer in 1895, we can see that film and modern science fiction literature were born around the same period. Shortly after, in France, the magician-filmmaker Georges Méliès made Gugusse et l’Automaton, a comedy about an android, and Cirurgien Americain, a comedy about organ transplantation, both in 1897. In 1901, Ferdinand Zecca directed À La Conquête de l’Air, in which a heroic inventor pilots a flying machine. Later, Méliès went on to make films such 2
air flight. could have been a rival for Méliès and Zecca” (Salles Gomes. but it was Méliès who laid its foundation. 1995. as much for its sophisticated narrative and epic length as for its subject matter which was derived from Jules Verne and H. 1981. the Spaniard Segundo de Chomón. both inspired by Jules Verne’s and H. (Hardy. 162). in the process. the motorcar – Méliès created a Science Fiction story and. Georges Méliès's Le Voyage dans La Lune (1902) was a landmark in the history of the cinema. Wells’s books. G. p. thus moulding the genre. Where other film-makers had been content to poke fun at the new and emerging technologies of the 20th Century – X-rays. electricity. Méliès's film marks the real beginnings of the Science Fiction cinema. and literally excavating the beginnings of the Science Fiction film. it is easy to see Science Fiction elements in the numerous trick films of the period. Wells. were comic in intent and lasted only a minute or two. Other directors isolated other themes and began to elaborate upon them. 18) According to the Brazilian film critic Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes. Along with Méliès and Zecca. an 8-minute short produced by Pathé. high-tech hotel.as Le Voyage dans La Lune (1902) and Le Voyage à travers l’Impossible (1904). one of the most skillful artisans of the Early Cinema. Phil Hardy celebrates Méliès as a pioneering filmmaker and the true “father” of science fiction cinema: Looking back to those days from the present. most of which. like the Lumière brothers Charcuterie Méchanique (1895) and Ferdinand Zecca's À la Conquête de l'Air (1901). identified the theme of space travel which became one of the abiding themes of the genre. But set against those simple films. Chomón composed what we could call the first "tripod" for fantasy 3 . Chomón also directed interesting proto-science fiction films like El Hotel Eléctrico (1908). G. in which a couple (with Chomón himself as the husband) are guests in a fully automated. p. With a carreer in France.
Walter Booth directed The '?' Motorist. In England. 16). Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus (1818) inspired uncountable adaptations 4 . Booth is also the director of The Airship Destroyer (1909). it is also worth mentioning the English filmmakers Walter R. Acoording to John Baxter (1970). some serials starring “scientific detectives” started appearing in the U. Stuart Blackton. (Hardy. p. Films of this type. such as those of the future war sub-genre which made its first appearance with Walter Booth's Airship Destroyer (1909). such as The Exploits of Elaine (1914). the passage of Halley's comet inspired the first science fiction disaster movie. all of which were completed in 1914. In the following years.S.S. the latter with a career in the U. The Comet. The success of The Airship Destroyer inspired other British productions such as The Aerial Anarchists (1911) and David Aylott and A. directed by Allen Curtis.. this film about a future war fought by bomber zeppelins is “(. produced by the American company Kalem. when the possibility under imagination was a probability. 1981. Phil Hardy notes that Méliès's fantastic voyages were supplanted by less imaginative but more directly compelling scenarios. p. science fiction cinema has found an inexhaustible source of inspiration in literature. Since Méliès.film in the Silent Era (Cf. 1995.. and Lady Baffles and Detective Duck (1915). Booth and J. a 1906 movie in which a high speed magical car. transports a couple into space. p.162). However.) probably the first film which deserves to be considered as true science fiction” (1970. which is able to climb buildings and go through the rings of Saturn. An Englishman's Home. Wake Up! And If England were Invaded. 18) In 1910.. directed by Louis Gasnier and George Seitz. Coleby's The Pirates of 1920 (1911). E. director unknown. touched real fears with their “what if England were invaded” scenarios. a British film produced by Charles Urban and based on the work of Jules Verne. which included England's Menace. Salles Gomes.
in 1920. in August Blom's Danish short film (Den skæbnesvangre opfindelse) with Alwin Neuß in the role of Dr. were more strongly influenced by theatrical adaptations rather the original novels. In America the new emphasis on narrative. 2005. speed and increased characterization transformed notions of the Science Fiction film. but the work then being done in Germany has left an indelible mark on modern film” (1970. Stevenson's novel appeared in the US as a feature film: John S. John Baxter observes that “Experiments in sf film carried on in England. America. Searle Dawley. fantasy and horror film from the late 1910s onwards. p. A good example of German film production in the field during this period is Otto Rippert's series Homunculus (1916). as well as film in general. the first time Dr. According to Phil Hardy.throughout the history of film. All these adaptations. though it remains one of the best Boys' Own adventure stories ever filmed. 18) 5 . Jekyll and Mr. as well as Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. (Hardy. Jekyll and Mr. starring John Barrymore as both the scientist and the “monster”. Likewise. is far darker in tone than its American counterparts. the simple dramas or trick photography and fantastic happenings of earlier times developed along more sophisticated lines. in 1910. Jekyll. Later. Jekyll and Mr. It was this growing divergence of American and European notions of what cinema was and what it could do that shaped the Science Fiction cinema of the twenties. Hyde. Films like Der Golem (1914). Hyde came to the silver screen was probably in 1910. however. Robertson's Dr. Verdens Undergang and Homunculus (both 1916) were far more sombre than anything produced at the time in America. It is also important to mention that German cinema exerted a remarkable influence on science fiction. This is especially true of Fritz Lang's Die Spinnen (1919) which. Hyde (1886). The first probable film adaptation of Frankenstein was produced by Edison Co. written and directed by J. In Europe too. p. Denmark and France are only marginally reflected in the sf cinema of today. 21).
or Henrik Galeen's Alraune (1928). about a pianist who. 1925). But perhaps the great author for science fiction film in the Silent Era is Fritz Lang. 18).. In early 1920s France. a melodrama pamphlet in which the hero employs a kind of laser against a bombing raid by the fascists. René Clair presented a Paris frozen in time in Paris Qui Dort (1923). based on Alexei Tolstoy's homonymous book. A superproduction taking nearly two years to complete..The 1920s. p. The film beneffited from “(. receives hands transplanted from a suspected murderer. 6 . a film about an eccentric scientist and his wonderful invention: a device capable of stopping the flow of time. Lev Kuleshov directed The Death Ray (Luch Smerti. Germany strenghtened its contribution to the future of science fiction cinema with fundamental experiments. here exported to Mars with scenery and costumes inspired by the Constructivist movement.) the talents of painter Fernand Léger to create a mise-en-scène derived mainly from the geometrical artificiality of cubism” (Baxter. Two years later. Soviet cinema produced at least one remarkable SF movie in the 1920s: Yakov Protazanov's Aelita (1924). 1925). Hans Werkmeister's Algol (1920) explores the antagonism between the worlds of magic and technology in his "interstellar romance." The motif of organ transplant gained momentum with Robert Wiene's The Hands of Orlac (Orlacs Hände. 1970. director of Metropolis (1927) and The Woman in the Moon (1929). marking a period in which proto-science fiction film began to discover its own specific identity. Mark Bould highlights the emergence of several films and series with "mad scientists" during this period. after an accident. is an epic novelization of the Russian Revolution. In the 1920s. films like A Blind Bargain (1922). an adaptation of Hanns Heinz Ewers's novel. Metropolis is a true synthesis of modernity. L'Inhumaine(1925) presented a melodrama about an extravagant killer and opera star who is revived by the machines of a scientist admirer. Still in the Soviet Union. directed by Wallace Worsley and starring Lon Chaney.
(Hardy. Lang directed The Woman in the Moon (Die Frau im Mond. (…) In America. 1919) which was in turn inspired by H. 82) The lost world motif inspired film productions such as G. p. W. after the false start of Just Imagine (1930) and the even odder It's Great to be Alive (1933) there was no clear line of development. a technological vision of the near future. a mixture of melodrama and documentary prophecy which had valuable advice from specialists in astronautics Hermann Oberth and Willy Ley. 1929). such as "zero gravity" and the countdown procedure. an adaptation of the novel by Pierre Benoit (L'Atlantide. The Woman in the Moon anticipated typical situations of space exploration.P.1 [Doesn't Answer] Antwortet Nicht (1932). in spite of all its technical advisory. However. Abel Gance's overblown disaster epic. Soprani's El Hombre Bestia o las Aventuras del 7 . Rider Haggard's She (1886-7) (see Baxter. 1970. According to Mark Bould. p. and Things to Come (1936). films like La Fin du Monde (1930). the dominant form taken in the 1930s was the "mad scientist" movie (Bould. F.G. p. 78-80). already in 1932. Z. Phil Hardy comments that In Europe. in their various ways continued the line of prophetic speculation of Metropolis (1926). the film was criticized for some "scientific flaws". 1930s. 83). Disasters that devastate the planet appear in films like Abel Gance's aforementioned La Fin du Monde (1930). In this sense. Pabst's L'Atlantide (1932).In 1929. 2005. Mad scientists and comic book heroes seem to give the tone for science fiction film in the 1930s. however. one of the first proto-science fiction films was C. 2003. An example of Fritz Lang's concern with realism. Wells's austere vision of the far future. or Felix Feist's American Deluge (1933). it is not surprising that even in Argentina. a spectacular dressing up of H.
the paraphernalia of the laboratory. The 1931 Frankenstein combines elements which are missing from the original novel and influenced many subsequent productions. In 1933. and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – a sequel to 1931 Frankenstein and largely thought to outdo the original. Wells. Captain Richard's aircraft crashes in a forest. directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. which displays a wonderful special effects job by Willis O'Brien 8 . Partially influenced by Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Kenton's Island of Lost Souls adapted H. Moreau. the actor who gave the creature a striking face with the support of sophisticated makeup by Jack Pierce. about a scientist who steals corpses and uses them in experiments (Paz. the first Mexican film capable of association with the universe of science fiction debuts in 1935: Gabriel Soria’s Deadmen Speak (Los Muertos Hablan). Wells's The Island of Dr.S. Fredric March won an Oscar for his portrayal of Dr. explicit references to electricity and the motif of an abnormal brain. Whale continued to direct science fiction or monster movies at Universal Sudios. Also in 1933. Jekyll / Mr. Erle C. originally published in 1896. Meanwhile. 2008. G. RKO launched the ancestor of the "supermonster film". James Whale's Frankenstein established some imagetic references that would later become deeply associated with the original story. Hyde in this technically sophisticated film. Hyde had its most famous adaptation released in 1932. Still in the Latin American context. G. In this film. was perhaps the film's most effective contribution. Boris Karloff's performance. Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack's King Kong. 83). These elements include the expressionist-inspired visual style.Capitán Richard. p. in 1931. The most famous adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel was released by Universal in the U. the character of the assistant. adapted from the novel by H. Jekyll and Mr. he survives and becomes a kind of savage until falling into the hands of a mad scientist who turns him into a sexually violent monster. such as The Invisible Man (1933).
science fiction experiments continued with films like Aleksei Andreievsky's Gibel Sensaty (in the U. according to Scott Bukatman. by Robert Fairthorne e Brian Salt (BOULD. with special effects by Günther Rittau and screenplay by Curt Siodmak. p. In this regard. Finally. 1921) by the Czech writer Karel Capek. The horror of war and technological utopia are central themes in this 1936 British production. 2003.S. One of the most famous productions from 1930s science fiction cinema . 1935). 80). G. an adaptation of Alex Raymond's 9 . It has become commonplace among film critics and even the general public to relate special effects to the commodified character of Sci-Fi (Bukatman. However. an adaptation of the famous play Rossum's Universal Robots (R.. In the Soviet Union. Germany continued to produce SF like Karl Hartl's aforementioned FP1 Doesn't Answer (FP1 Antwortet Nicht (1933). and Equation: x + x = 0 (1936). it is worth noting Frederick Stephani's Flash Gordon (1936). about the challenge of building a mega-tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean. who also intensely participated in the making of the movie. 1993. Loss of Feeling. Wells himself.. an adaptation of H. For Wells everything in the film was to be exactly the opposite of what Fritz Lang did in Metropolis.is certainly Things to Come (1936).U. released in German and French versions. Bould also recalls the remarkable momentum in the 1930s towards the production of film series (BOULD. Wells's novel The Shape of Things to Come (1933) directed by William Cameron Menzies.84). Mark Bould observes that the only genuinely modern films in the period were probably British avant-garde shorts like The Birth of a Robot (1935).R. special effects need to be problematized as a "privileged locus of meaning" (Bukatman. 13). p.and a team of experts. a film about a “flying” aircraft carrier operating over the Atlantic. 2003. as an aesthetic element. 1993). Triumphs of engineering inspired films like Curtis Bernhardt's Der Tunnel (1933).for some the Wellsian decade for SF film . by Len Lye. written by Mr. p.
's One Million Years BC (1940). Phil Hardy (2005. p. Released in 10 . 2005. science fiction started appearing on the silver screen via comedic films notably in the 1940s. The contrasting developments of Science Fiction literature and the Science Fiction film which were a feature of the thirties continued into the fourties.S. in the U. Cyclops (1940). 106). the 1940s were not scene for major SF film productions. Phil Hardy observes that “the horror cycle of the thirties (which had annexed many Science Fiction elements) turned to parody. Meanwhile. According to this author. originating from Dick Calkins's comic hero. still the genre's creative focus. while giant reptiles were the stars of Hal Roach and Hal Roach Jr. indeed. so human miniaturization was the Pandora's box in Ernest B. Schoedsack's Dr. p. p. 2005. it climaxed in the broad farce of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)” (Hardy. These two movie series are notable examples of the popular appeal of space operas and the increasing intersection between film and comics articulated by SF. possibly because of World War II and its outcomes. but they still awaited cohesive themes to form the centrepiece of the solid genre that would appear. in countries like Brazil and Mexico. a film in which the mad scientist Dekker performs experiments in his laboratory in the midst of the Peruvian jungle. Size matters. but in the cinema Science Fiction as such hardly existed. 1947).famous comic and Ford Beebe and Saul Goodkind's Buck Rogers (1939). The first Brazilian comedy framed by science fiction was probably Silveira Sampaio's An Adventure at 40 (Uma Aventura aos 40. In the magazines. 106) Hence. the beginning of modern Science Fiction were erected on the foundations laid down in the thirties. as if from nowhere in the fifties. Various Science Fiction elements already existed. 1940s. 106) suggests that science fiction was somehow eclipsed in the cinema of the 1940s. (Hardy.
and John English and Elmer Clifton's Captain America (1944). Finally. and Victor Fleming's version of Dr. a subtler remake of Rouben Mamoulian's film from the 1930s starring Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman. It is also worth mentioning the sequels to James Whale's Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. the inventor of a valuable elixir. Science fiction cinema is reborn in the 1950s (2005. who discovers a new explosive he calls Krakatik. 1948). Lambert Hillyer's Batman (1942). Jekyll and Mr. Another example of Mexican SF comedy is Miguel M. Jaime Salvador's 1946 film The Modern Bluebeard (El Moderno Barba Azul. we must mention the continuous appearance of superheroes from the comics. (1941). Kenton's The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) and others. p. Hyde (1941). interactivity is a full-fledged technology: the spectator can talk directly to the TV presenter. 124). Otakar Vavra directed Krakatik (1949). such as in Ford Beebe's Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940). Delgado's The Superwiseman (El Supersabio. such as Erle C. According to Phil Hardy. starring Cantinflas (Mario Moreno) as the assistant of a brilliant scientist. The film narrates the moral fable of the scientist Prokop (Karel Hoeger). The fifties was the decade in which anxiety. 1950s. this film tells the life story of a professor honored by a TV show in 1975. William Witney and John English's The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1940) and Dick Tracy versus Crime Inc. among others. an adaptation of a story by classic Czech author Karel Capek. with Buster Keaton playing the main character who gets involved in multiple mix-ups only to end up boarding a rocket bound for the Moon. In Czechoslovakia. 1946) have already combined science fiction and comedy. While in Mexico. In this future television. paranoia and complacency marched 11 .1947.
p. in which aliens give an ultimatum to mankind. The world only so recently saved for democracy was once again divided. this time by an Iron Curtain and in America subversion from within became a prevalent fear. In the wake of Destination. Cold War. but now within the explicit ideological framework of American liberalism. p. Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). “a colorful combination of pseudo-documentary and Mars exploration flick. Joseph Newman's This Island Earth (1955) featuring nuclear scientists from 12 .'s short story "Who Goes There?". Destination Moon re-edits Fritz Lang's formula for The Woman in the Moon. 16). Howard Hawks's production which was inspired by John Campbell Jr. but especially Irving Pichel's Destination Moon (1950). man had discovered and used a force so frightening that it could mean the extinction of the species. 2005. alien invasion and nuclear holocaust motifs became dominant in the American SF cinema of the period. Few of the movies were masterpieces. Both were released in America in 1950. 2011. yet a surprising number of fifties Science Fiction films retain their power and resonance to this day. largely due to the scientific advice of Willy Ley and the work of Chesley Bonnestel. 124) The 1950s set the stage for the famous SF film boom in the US. Heinlein's novel Rocketship Galileo (1947). Describing a space adventure to conquer Earth's natural satellite. This can be seen in titles like: The Thing from Another World (1951). Byron Haskin's Conquest of Space. sparked by films like Kurt Neumann's Rocketship XM (1950).hand in hand. (Hardy. an ambitious production by George Pal based on Robert A. A notably pedagogical movie in terms of narrative. These anxieties. On the threshold of space. (…) was producer George Pal's uneven attempt to rework his highly succesful Destination Moon formula” (Gerani. however banal they stand revealed in retrospect. Released in 1955. expressed and explored in a variety of ways created the Science Fiction film genre. Destination is one of the most scientifically detailed SF films of its time.
Earth who involved in atomic warfare between planets Metaluna and Zaghon. 1998. “The science fiction film of the 1950s shares some of the paranoia and insecurities of the film noir. in 1623).) for the first time in history. 87). pp. a film that combines attributes from both the noir and science fiction genres (Buckland. For many writers and SF fans.'s I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958). p. a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's play The Tempest (first published. exploring subjects from Freud's theories about the unconscious.” Buckland cites Robert Aldrich's Kiss me Deadly (1955). p. the SF film boom in the early 1950s would have ran out quickly if there had not been the revival of monster movies driven by the re-release of King Kong (1952). This thought-provoking film brings psychoanalysis into SF film.. mankind is able to destroy itself. 98-9).000 Fathoms (1953). 98).. with another alien invasion threatening the sacred family unit. (…) Such films can therefore be read as reflecting the anxieties of the American public in the 1950s”. by means of its own science and technology. the fear of extinction brought on by a nuclear fallout (Buckland. 1998. According to Warren Buckland. paving the way for productions like Eugène Lourie's The Beast from 20. a movie about a silent alien invasion that can be read both as an anti-communist allegory and “a criticism of placid conformity to American Cold War ideology” (Buckland. “(. Buckland also mentions Gordon Douglas's Them! (1954) and Rudolph Maté's When Worlds Collide (1951) as good examples of the 1950s science fiction films' fear that. 13 . 85). 1998. According to Mark Bould (2003. it is believed. the greatest American 1950s science fiction film premiered in 1956: Fred M. and Gene Fowler Jr. Wilcox's Forbidden Planet. Don Siegel's The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). in which giant ants mutated by radioation threaten the US. p. based on Ray Bradbury short story "The Fog Horn". or Gordon Douglas's Them! (1954).
“Arnold's evocations of the possibilities inherent in a landscape without figures brought lyricism to a frequently bland-looking genre. directed by Mario Soffici. Japan also produced a significant crop of science fiction cinema in the 1950s. 86). Wise. Argentine cinema presented a daring adaptation of Stevenson's Dr. covered both low-budget productions (the famous B-movies) and films that tried to emulate American SF flicks. the Quatermass series is representative of the "alien paranoia" in British cinema. According to Mark Bould (2003. Juran. Coming from television. Some of these titles can be considered masterpieces of the genre. and even the American middle-class home have not been seen in the same way. Honda. 1954) . In Great-Britain. a clever SF comedy starring Alec Guinness.” After the films of Jack Arnold. The famous British sense of humour also contributed to science fiction in Alexander Mackendrick's The Man in the White Suit . Hunter (1999). the desert. as early as 1951. such as It Came from Outer Space (1953). Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). starting in the 1950s with The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and lasting until the fourth episode in the late 1970s (The Quatermass Conclusion. especially the "radioactive monster films" (kaiju eiga) inaugurated by Ishiro Honda's Godzilla (Gojira. the “mad scientists” and their unpredictable experiments were a worldwide phenomenon. so it is also worth remembering that. 1978). perhaps the most important filmmaker of the 1950s boom was Jack Arnold.But among many names (Pichel. Hyde: El Extraño Caso del Hombre y la Bestia. Revenge of the Creature (1955). there was also an interesting science fiction filmography in the same period which. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and The Space Children (1958). Siegel. Lourié. the prolific director of some of the most representative films of the period.the first appearance of the giant dinosaur awakened by alarming American nuclear tests. Q. Tarantula (1955). Jekyll and Mr. Maté and others). also 14 . By this time. p. according to authors such as I. the swamp.
as in Rubén Galindo's Santo against the Muderers from Other Worlds (Santo Contra Los Asesinos de Otros Mundos.. Kurt Neumann's The Fly (1958) provided one of the weirdest and most thought-provoking 15 . p. in which a young boy is the key to preventing an alien invasion. was the great name of Japanese SF cinema at the time. In the late 1950s.. Ulmer's The Man from Planet X (1958) revisited the alien invasion motif. 2003.) in the mid-1950s. This “shapeless” threat was quite influential. p. 1958). preempting the Alien series that would start in 1979. about a scientist who builds a robot to steal the treasure guarded by an Aztec mummy. 86). gelatinous alien creature (Gerani. in large intergalactic adventures" (2006). In Mexican science fiction cinema. Edgar G.the director of the space opera The Mysterians (aka Chikyu Boeigun. 2011. Ítala Schmelz. the Human Robot (La Momia azteca contra el robot humano. Mexican cinema offered titles such as the Aztec Mummy series. Roger Corman became the big name at the time. Menaces from outer space – in the spirit of the Cold War era – continued to appear in films like William Cameron Menzies's Invaders from Mars (1953). in which a mysterious mini-meteorite strikes Earth. inspired sequels and was eventually “digested” by filmmakers outside the US. paving the way for a more explicit reconcilliation between science fiction and the “horror movie” (See BOULD. while Edward Cahn's It! The Terror from Beyond Space adapted an insightful story by Jerome Bixby – the idea of a clandestine alien killer aboard a spaceship -. 1957). and from within it emerges a weird. The lineage of alien invaders – as well as monsters created by radioactive mutation . and Irvin S. By the end of the 1950s. Vania Rojas and Héctor Orozco note that "(. 1973). the humorous potential of fantastic adventures was discovered and the comedians are launched. and Russell Doughten's The Blob (1958). American SF cinema survived with low-budget productions aimed at a youthful audience. 15). Yeaworth Jr.multiplied in the late 1950s. Directing lean and resourceful films such as Teenage Caveman (1958). one after another. now potentialized by some unscrupulous human behaviour. beginning with Rafael Portillo's Aztec Mummy vs.
remarkably free of the paranoia that infected American films. with James Mason in the role of Professor Oliver Lindenbrook. Japan. In Eastern Europe. The Silent Star presents a pacifist message. it is worth mentioning Kurt Maetzig’s The Silent Star (aka Der Schweigende Stern. Jules Verne's oeuvre continued inspiring lavish productions such as Henry Levin's Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959). much in the spirit of other “ban the bomb” films like On the Beach (1959) or Beyond the Time Barrier (1960) (Cf.. 1962. countries which subsequently became major producers of Science Fiction films – Britain. 1995. Hardy. 1963) no doubt following the flights of Sputnik (1957) and Gagarin (1961)” (Hardy. 2005. Meshte Nastreshu.monsters from cinema. (Hardy. Stanley Kramer's On the Beach (1959).. 124) 16 .. “(. An interesting American film of the period is Ronald MacDougall's The World.S. a post-apocalyptic drama involving racial and sexual issues about the coexistence of the three sole survivors of the human race. By the end of the 50s. Andre Delambre (David Hedison) as the fly-man. 202). is a remarkable sample of pacifist science fiction from the 1950s. 1995. Phil Hardy remarks that Outside America. 202).) this film inaugurated a series of Eastern European space operas (Planet Burg. Milczaca Gwiazda or First Spaceship on Venus). This film inspired sequels and a remake by David Cronenberg in the 1980s. Italy and Mexico – turned to the genre in their own distinctive ways. a space adventure based on Stanislaw Lem’s The Astronauts (1951). during the transition from the 1950s to 1960s. for the most part. the Flesh and the Devil (1959). (…) Similarly. p. According to Phil Hardy. their films – like Niebo Zowiet (1959) – were. 1963. p. Dr. adapted from Nevil Shute's novel and shot on location in Australia and the U. p. when Eastern European film-makers turned to the genre. Raumschiff Venus Antwortet Nicht. Ikarie XB-1. Finally. a melancholic warning about the dangers of nuclear warfare and a kind of audiovisual "documentary" of its time.
Curtis Harrington's Queen of Blood (1966) transposed the vampire theme into space. like Mario Bava's Terrore Nello Spazio (1965). 1962) “initiated a stream of medically inclined Science Fiction-horror films. Wells's The Time Machine was directed by George Pal. directed by Peter Watkins. about a creature from another planet who reanimates the corpse of an Italian worker played by Renato Salvatori . Another Italian-French production. providing interesting issues in terms of gender and post-colonial analysis. In the UK. Jean-Claude Forest's sexy comic book heroine arrived on the big screen with Barbarella (1967). In Latin America. Inaugurated by The War Game (1966). Also in Italy. 1995. is also worth mentioning. G. Jesús Franco's Cries in the Night or The Awful Dr. it is worth noting the adaptations of John Wyndham's works . Byron Haskin's Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) transposed Daniel Defoe's famous novel to the Red Planet. a series of “documentaries of the future”. Phil Hardy considers the 1960s the decade in which “science fiction becomes respectable”. Hiroshi Teshigahara's The Face of Another (Tanin No Kao. 1995. an SF comedy released in 1963. In 1960. Antonio Margheritti's Space Men (1960) “introduced a series of visually exciting mainstream Science Fiction films” (Hardy. Wells's famous homonymous novel. 1966) and John Frankenheimer's Seconds (1966). Also in 1964. while Fritz Lang's The Thousand Eyes of Dr. 1960). 196). Mabuse (Die Tausend Augen des Dr Mabuse. Nathan Juran's First Men in the Moon adapted H. 1960) sparked a revival of Mabuse thrillers. The transplant motif gained some essential titles like Georges Franju's Eyes without a Face (Les Yeux sans Visage.” (Hardy.such as Wolf Rilla's Village of the Damned (1960) and Steve Sekely's The Day of the Triffids (1962) – while speculations about the atomic threat continued to appear in films such as Val Guest's The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961). the most famous adaptation of H. Watkin's The War Game uses simulated newsreels and street interviews to focus on the 17 . Mario Bava's Diabolik (1968) chronicles the adventures of a supercriminal. p. G. Orllof (Gritos em la Noche.1960s. In Italy. an Italian-French production directed by Roger Vadim and starring Jane Fonda. p. Ugo Gregoretti directed Omicron. and Joseph Losey's The Damned (1963). 196).
In Japanese cinema. while gigantic monsters confronted each other in such productions as Ishiro Honda's King Kong vs. In Alphaville (1965).g. radioactive monster movies multiplied in parallel to warnings about a nuclear holocaust. Size still matters. Later on. a French-Italian production from 1963. an impressive dystopian love story about a temporal paradox made of still photographs. 1962). In the Soviet Union. Luna (1965) or Planet Bur (1961). a kind of Soviet “response” to Destination Moon. a BritishAmerican production. 1995. Pavel Klushantsev's Planet Bur (1962) is a resourceful space exploration film. In Planet Bur. an episode of Ro. and served as the basis for Peter Bogdanovich's Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968). dubbed and released in the U. 1957). 1994). François Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1966) presented an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's homonymous novel. 1960). while Alain Resnais's Je t'aime. Jean-Luc Godard put forth an ironic reflection upon Cartesianism. Godzilla (Kingu Kongu tai Gojira. p. a new wave of SF films began with Chris Marker's La Jetée (1962). communist ideology underpins the narrative accordingly. Godard ventured into science fiction once again with the short "The New World" (“Il Nuovo Mondo”). 247). The Italian-American production The Last Man on Earth (L'Ultimo uomo 18 . such as Shigeaki Hidaka and William Ross's The Final War (Dai sanji Hence Sekai Taisen .Yonju-Ichi in Kyofu. Klushantsev was already using techniques considered to be “pioneering” special effects in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (See SKOTAK and BARKER. In films like Road to the Stars (Doroga k zvezdam. Planet Bur was later recut.S.appalling results of a nuclear attack on a small Kent town (Hardy. so Eugène Lourie directed giant monsters again in Gorgo (1961).pa. In France. as Curtis Harrington's Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965).go. societies of control and film genre. je t'aime (1967) brought us a love story immersed in a time paradox similar to La Jetée.
resourceful independent films. 1964). p. 1995. Farenheit 451 (1966) and Je T'Aime.della Terra. American low budget films continued appearing. the once simple movies about radiation-induced monsters developed until. According to Phil Hardy. 1965) presents Marcello Mastroiani and Ursula Andress as competing killers in the 21st Century where legalized murder has taken place of birth control and war (Hardy. Night of the Living Dead “science-fictionalizes” the zombie motif in a modestly budgeted film that relies mainly on ingenious makeup. More significant than the internationalization of the genre (…) was the new-found respectability of Science Fiction in Europe. directed by Ubaldo Ragona. the sub-genre had become a fascinating mirror of postwar Japanese political history. Somewhat in the style of Matheson's I am Legend. Elio Petri's The Tenth Victim (La Decima Vittima. Alphaville (1965). Je T'Aime (1967) used the speculative possibilities of Science Fiction to intriguing purpose. (Hardy. Robert Sheckley's short story “The Seventh Victim” also earned a film adaptation in Italy. Phil Hardy observes that (…) [T]he success of On the Beach (1959) encouraged established stars and directors to turn to Science Fiction. 238). adapted Richard Matheson's impressive and influential novel I am Legend (1954) about a post-apocalyptic world dominated by vampire mutants in which there is only one man left. 1995. Dr Strangelove (1964) and 19 . dramatic atmosphere and editing. p. Similarly in Japan. both forgettable B-movies and clever. by the end of the decade. Produced by Carlo Ponti. Finding a continuum in the late 1950s with the 1960s. Examples are Roger Corman's The Wasp Woman (1960) and George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968). The bigger budgets they brought with them resulted in films as diverse as The Birds (1963). 196) In the same period. Films like The War Game (1965).
. The film was released approximately in the same period of the missile crisis in Cuba. culminating with an alien encounter that resembles The Day the Earth Stood Still. one of the most genuine SF films appears in 1962: Alberto Pieralisi's The Fifth Power. 1966). The Fifth Power is about an international conspiracy that aims to dominate Brazilian natural resources. a prelude to Solaris and 2001. which generated four sequels and a teleseries. treasure hunts. Brazilian SF films seemed instrumental for political expression and criticism.Seconds (1966). a melancholic post-apocalyptic dystopia. (Hardy. Apes. 1967). such as mistaken identity. though not as celebrated at the time. an ingenious film about an expedition in search of intelligent life in the universe. In The Cosmonauts. from The Fifth Power to Walter Lima Jr. 1995. 196). and Jan Schmidt's The End of August at the Hotel Ozone (Konec Sprna v Hotelu Ozon. Meanwhile. The culmination of this trend came in 1968 with the release of 2001 – A Space Odissey and Planet of the Apes. Who Killed Jessie? (Kdo chce zabit Jessii?. etc. In the same year. a visionary Brazilian scientist leads the national space program and sends two astronauts into space involuntarily. In Brazil. science fiction cinema in Czechoslovakia presented at least three noteworthing titles: Jindricj Polák's Ikarie XB-1 (1963). produced and written by Carlos Pedregal. was George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) which created a sub-genre which would be mined throughout the seventies in countless exploitation pictures. Brazil Year 2000 can be regarded as a kind of "tropicalist Sci-Fi allegory”. by Romero as well as others. directed by Victor Lima. 20 . 1969). Its pacifist political discourse is colored by the usual array of troubles in comedies. Throughout the 1960s. a metalinguistic comedy by Vaclav Vorlícek. science fiction and comedy reappear together in The Cosmonauts (1962). gave added weight to the questioning tendency of big-budget Science Fiction while 2001 transformed both the look and the budgets of Science Fiction films.'s Brazil Year 2000 (Brasil Ano 2000. Equally influential. Released during the military dictatorship. p.
In the late 1960s. Federico Curiel's Hellish Spiders (Arañas Infernales. Borges and Bioy Casares 21 wrote almost all of the dialogue. directed by Alfredo Crevenna. To avert a world war and appease the Russians. 1969) -. Invasion is about events in Aquilea. Argentine cinema was driven to a more experimental. directed by Emilio Vieyra. or René Cardona's Santo in the Treasure of Dracula (Santo en El Tesoro de Dracula. . about alien women seeking for male specimens to be taken to their planet. 1966). the American President is forced to bomb New York in this psychological science fiction thriller. The Martian Invasion (Santo el enmascardo de plata vs la invasión de los marcianos. presented beautiful wrestlers fighting robots. Released soon after Stanley Kubrick's Dr. 1968) performed a climactic clash between Earthling champion Blue Demon and Prince Arac. which is maybe the most insightful reflection upon Cold War paranoia. featured television spectators turned zombies by exposure to sinister TV signals. or Planet of the Female Invaders (El Planeta de las mujeres invasoras.In Mexico. from galaxy Aracnia. Brechtian SF with Hugo Santiago's Invasión (1969). Written by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares. Human 2 The basic idea of a city being threatened was proposed by Santiago. the Murderous Robot (Las Luchadoras contra el robot asesino. Invasion is an SF movie that anticipates the military dictatorship that would befall Argentina. Later. 1967). the American-Argentine production Stay Tuned for Terror (Extraña Invasión. and titles such as Rogelio González's The Ship of Monsters (La Nave de los monstruos. as well as contributing many significant suggestions. Invasion2 premiered in 1969 and soon became a cult movie. Released in 1965. As with Alberto Pieralisi’s The Fifth Power (1962) in Brazil. while Rene Cardona's Wrestling Women vs. Sidney Lumet's Fail Safe (1964) tells the story of an accidental nuclear attack waged on Russia by the USA. 1960). 1965). science fiction became even more popular through films starring the famous wrestler Santo – like Alfredo Crevenna's Santo vs. In the late 1960s. 1969). Strangelove (1964). a fictional city that is being harassed by mysterious agents in 1957. American cinema attempted a more in-depth and philosophical SF.
Clarke's short story "the Sentinel" (1948). however. Cliff Robertson won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actor – a fairly unusual award for a science fiction film. only Andrei Tarkovsky. 2001 undoubtedly impelled SF film to a new level from the late 1960s onwards. in Solaris (1972). 2001: A Space Odissey (1968) demonstrate a darkly comic vision and a suspicion of technolgy counterpointed by a determination to explore the formal limits of filmmaking and its apparatuses. Although directors such as Ridley Scott. a loose adaptation of Arthur C. (BOULD. and Peter Watkins. According to Bould. regardless of the colonial or imperialist ideologies affecting Early Cinema as a whole. Franklin J. Schaffner's aforementioned Planet of the Apes (1968) revisited a formula already explored in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Terry Gilliam. 2003. Luc Besson and Jean-Pierre Jeunet would bring as distinctive visuals styles to sf moviemaking. suggests that the genre began in a prototypical form marked by transnationalism and a certain embryonic “universalist” vocation. from 1895 to the late 1960s. in the 1920s. A Clockwork Orange (1971) and. a film based on Daniel Keyes's short story and later novel Flowers for Algernon. Mark Bould includes among the principal 1960s SF filmmakers John Frankenheimer. that neither of these directors would equal Stanley Kubrick. p. as well as in the Mexican film The Modern Bluebeard: Earth mistaken as another planet. director of The Manchurian Candidate (1962). For his main role in Charly. 91) This brief panorama of SF cinema. with Privilege (1967). 1986). Also in 1968 a watershed of SF cinema appeared with the première of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). especially. has treated the genre with comparable wit and rigour. SF cinema starts finding its identity through politically engaged utopian/dystopian 22 . Doctor Strangelove (1964). Stalker (1979) and Offret (The Sacrifice. Bould remarks.cognition improved by scientific experiments was the main motif in Ralph Nelson's Charly (1968). Shortly after.
Considering that. Film Studies.S. 1991. Edward e MENDLESOHN. the idea of “vernacular modernism” could be revisited in order to better understand how science fiction cinema was absorbed and reconfigured in global terms. Mark. outside of America. countries turned to SF cinema in their own distinctive ways (Hardy. BAXTER. pp. London: Hodder & Stoughton. New York: A. expanded and eventually consolidated to become one of the most profitable and thought-provoking cinematic genres. 1994. American Cinematographer. John. In: JAMES. Warren. The Cambridge companion to science fiction. pp. 2005. notably in America. v. 75. made possible especially through the work of auteur-filmmakers. SF cinema consolidates as a genre. pp. This conjecture. contributed to a “new wave” of internationalization for the genre. 78-83. Farah. 79-95. nº 7. SKOTAK. In “The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism”. John. parte 1. To conclude. BUCKLAND. However. nº 63.. Despite being arguable. London: Orbit. Barnes & Co. Everything that has appeared from the 1970s onwards – be it on film. Bibliography: BARKER. Hansen coined the term "vernacular modernism" to explain how even classical Hollywood cinema could be a popular form of modernism that served many cultures as a horizon for coming to grips with modernity.has a connection with this foundational era. American Cinematographer. BROSNAN. v. BOULD. in parallel to the expansion of Hollywood cinema. 1994. “Klushantsev: Russia’s wizard of Fantastika”. it would like to be stated that throughout the first 75 years of cinema. Science Fiction in the Cinema. 1998. Lynn . This American science fiction cinema somehow eclipsed transnational SF film production for years to come. London: A. 23 . Film and Television. 2003. configuring a true mythology of our times. e parte 2.. and widely discussed and revised over the last years. the rise of SF cinema in Europe. Zwemmer Ltd.fiction. science fiction set its roots. 1970. The Primal Screen: A History of Science Fiction Film. 77-82. In the 1950s. in the 1960s. 75. still deserves further research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. V. 124). Robert. TV or games . however. Miriam Hansen's idea of “vernacular modernism” might provide an interesting theoretical framework for the historical analysis of SF cinema. p.
1. SALLES GOMES. The virtual subject in post-modern science fiction. 1979.htm?infoid=77&sid=27 SICLIER. Scott. SUVIN. available at http://2006.J.]. [s. mais mexicano”. Patrick. S. Ficção científica brasileira: mitos culturais e nacionalismo no país do futuro. GERANI. MICHEL. Science Fiction Film and Television 1. Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast. Mariano. In: Contra a interpretação. “. Steve. nº 10. de James Whale”. Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Nacional do Cinema. London: Routledge. M. J. L’Écran Fantastique. Durham: Duke Universtiy Press. “A imaginação da catástrofe”. e LABARTHE.). ROBERTS.. 3ª edição. 1995. 40-73.htm GINWAY. London: Routledge. PAZ. The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction. HUNTER.BUKATMAN. New York: Overlook. Gary. I. 1981. 1997. José (ed.). Adam. 1993. 2011.).). San Diego: IDW.d. The science fiction film reader. C.com. Paulo Emílio. GARCIA. Susan.br/84/artscifimexico. Miriam B. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction. A. Science Fiction. Available at http://elenarazlogova. Cinema e ficção científica. Paulo Emílio: Crítica de Cinema no Suplemento Literário. Estevão.festivaldorio. 2005. “A partir de agora. New York: Limelight Editions. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.Mais perto que Hollywood. 84. London: Routledge. Martin’s Press. Contracampo n. Héctor. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra. South of the future: An overview of Latin American science fiction cinema”.br/cgi/cgilua. NEALE. pp. FC Simpósio. 1987.2 (1999) 59-77. vamos falar em espanhol”. (ed. 162-6. 2000. 4 ed. Lisboa: Editorial Áster. 1999. mais divertido. 2000. SANZ. 1969. Elizabeth. British Science Fiction Film. São Paulo: Devir. SONTAG.. Darko. HANSEN. Terminal Identity. New York: Checkmark Books. Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies. “The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism. 2001. The encyclopedia of science fiction movies. ROJAS. Ítala. Genre and Hollywood.pdf HARDY.exe/sys/start. McGILLIGAN. HENDERSON. Vânia and OROZCO. Porto Alegre: L&PM. 6. available at http://www. Gregg (ed. 81–103 ISSN 1754-3770 (print) 1754-3789 (online). vol. RICKMAN.org/hist615/pdfs/hansen. 24 . SCHMELZ.1 (2008).contracampo. 1980. pp.Q. New York: St.com. 2004. “A hora espanhola”. Jean-Claude “Deux chefs-d’ouvre de l’Age d’Or Universal: La Fiancée de Frankenstein et L’Homme Invisible. Phil (ed.” Modernism/Modernity.
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