This course explores the ways science and technology are represented in science fiction film from the birth of cinema to today.
This course uses classic and recent science fiction films as a vehicle to discuss and analyse science and technology themes of the past, present and imagined future. Themes examined include the ‘mad scientist’; science as malevolent versus science as salvation; the survival of humanness in a technological world and the contrary trend of dehumanisation in the face of advancing technology; scientific utopias and dystopias; science fiction as self-fulfilling prophecy; voyages into space and inner space; time travel; computers and artificial intelligence; virtual reality; nuclear holocaust and environmental apocalypses; alien life; genetic engineering; imagined technocracies; neo-Luddism; ethics and technology; and science fiction as a vehicle for social and political commentary. Examples of films screened include classics of science fiction such as Metropolis (1927), Frankenstein (1931), The Time Machine (1960), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Solaris (1972) and Bladerunner (1982), along with more recent films such as Gattaca (1997), Moon (2009), Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015). These feature films will be supplemented with footage from civil defence films, government celebrations of science and technology along with science documentaries. Films will be accompanied in class by discussion and criticism and students will also read scholarly treatments of cinematic science fiction.
Course Essay Prize
The student with the top essay in this course receives The King’s College History of Science and Technology Program Essay Prize in Science Fiction Film.