Most college students have to take different electives for their curriculum requirements. The question is, which one is the best one for me? Well, I know some people prefer to take something that has some relevance to their majors, but I decided to do something different and when I was going through the course catalog, one class caught my attention: HUM 3276 SCIENCE FICTION LITERATURE AND FILM.
Every semester, the class has a different overall science fiction theme. In previous years the themes included : Gender in Science Fiction, Robots, Dystopias and other interesting topics (personally I was hoping for Zombie Apocalypse). But this time, Dr. Rosiene decided to do a compilation called the “Best of the Best” where we studied the stories and films that were keystones in the history of science fiction film and literature. The term is divided into decades and every week we view a film from each decade. We started off with silent films from the early part of the century – from Journey to the Moon and Metropolis, to a less well-known Russian film called Aelita. It was interesting to think that during their time period these silent, black and white films were at the cutting edge of technology.
(The infamous moon landing in Journey to the Moon)
As the semester progresses, so does the time period from which we view films. I was excited when we reached the 50s. Who doesn’t like Giant Mutated Ants or Communist Flying Saucers? But, in this class we do more than just view the cheap special effects and hardware store props, we study the underlying social views of each film. One concept that I found interesting is that, based on the content of each film you view, you’re able to identify on which side of the political spectrum it rests. Films that usually have the scientist or genius become the hero will be left wing (Them!, The Day the Earth Stood Still). Does that mean a daring hero as a vigilante is considered right wing (i.e. War of the Worlds or The Forbidden Planet)? Politics aside, I was surprised at the quality of these films. While the computers were still analog, the special effects and filming techniques were evolving into what we see today.
In addition to viewing films every week, we read short science fiction stories from a wide variety of authors, including the famous works of H.G Wells and Isaac Asimov, the father of all robotic science fiction. We also read lesser known sci-fi stories like the Russian novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. We will often discuss how the stories and films are related to each other by memes of the science fiction genre, time period or even the overall settings. This class has opened my eyes when enjoying sci-fi. Now, when I view these films, I try to understand the deeper meanings behind the plastic costumes and computer-generated effects and appreciate how older films laid the foundation for what we see on the big screen today. As I pace towards the final frontier of college, I encourage anyone reading this blog to definitely consider taking HUM 3276 SCIENCE FICTION LITERATURE AND FILM. So Live Long, Study Hard and Prosper. \V/
Do you have a favorite sci-fi film or story? Let me know and I’ll suggest it to Dr. Rosiene for his next class.