Daily Archives: August 31, 2004

Science Fiction Films: Which Are the Most Significant?

Okay, here’s that big participatory entry I’ve been hinting at.

As some of you know, I’m currently writing The Rough Guide to Science Fiction Film, which will be a general overview of the history of Science Fiction in films, with chapters on some various themes (science in science fiction, SF film icons, crossover subgenres, etc) and so on. The heart of the book, however, will be the Science Fiction Film Canon: The 50 classic Science Fiction films. In my own brain, I see this list as the list of the most significant science fiction films, as opposed to the “best” or the most financially successful. This gives me latitude to, say, include films that are influential on science fiction filmmakers, but not necessarily the audience (or, vice versa, as the case may be).

(You rightly ask: And why do I get to choose the Science Fiction Film Canon? Well, because someone paid me to, basically. But also, I’m both a professional film critic of more than a dozen years standing, and I’m also a professional science fiction writer. If someone’s going to compile this list, it might as well be me.)

I of course already have a preliminary list of 50 films ready to go. BUT! Even with my rather extensive knowledge of science fiction, film and science fiction films, I am more than willing to entertain the notion that my list has gaps: Films that should be on the list may not be there — films that I have on the list may not deserve to be there.

So, this is where you come in: Suggest me some science films (one or more, as many as you like) which you feel are especially significant. If you want to jot down a sentence or two as to why you think they’re significant, that’d be swell (to be clear, any comments you make on films are for my personal edification — I won’t cut and paste into the book. I do my own writing). Any films you might care to think of are appreciated, but in particular I’d be interested in knowing any suggestions you might have for:

* Science Fiction films before 1965
* Science Fiction films in foreign languages (of any era)
* Significant animated science fiction films (including anime)
* Science Fiction films based on novels/novellae/short stories, particularly before 1965
* Films not usually thought of as “science fiction” but which have significant science fiction plot elements (a recent example: Kate & Leopold)

Here’s what I’m not looking for:
* Suggestions on Fantasy films (LotR, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, etc)
* TV shows, mini-series or made-for-TV movies (they have to have been in the theater)
* Really bad films you know no one else likes but you (like, say, Galaxina), and which are not likely to be seemed significant by your basic jury of geek peers.

To avoid getting the obvious suggestions, here are some films I’ve already considered for the Canon — which is to say they may or may not be on the list, but one way or another they’re already on my radar:

* Star Wars films (for the purposes of the list, I’m treating film series as a single entry)
* Star Trek films
* Alien films
* Blade Runner
* 2001
* Close Encounters
* Akira and Ghost in the Shell
* Godzilla films
* Matrix films
* Mad Max films
* Planet of the Apes films
* Terminator films
* Solaris
* the various Body Snatcher films
* The Day the Earth Stood Still

Although I already know about these films hopefully this list may suggest other films to you to suggest back to me.

Go ahead and leave your suggestions/comments in the comment thread; I’ll be reading and commenting the next couple of days as well, of course, and will also check in while I’m at Noreascon.

Also, please do link to this on your own blogs and send the entry URL to people you know who might be interested in leaving a suggestion or recommendation. I’d like to hear from a wide range of people so that I can have the largest pool of films to think about for the Canon.

Fire away!