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Thread: Stu Presents, Genre Deconstruction In Film: A Crash Course!

  1. #26
    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    It would be weird to suggest that Sci-Fi was a dying genre everywhere in the 60's, which is why I specified that that was only true "as far as major Hollywood releases went", a premise that you just admitted you partially agree with; what exactly is the issue here?
    My issue is: How many qualifiers does your premise need to hold up? Is that premise any good if it requires you to limit your viewpoint to a very specific year, decade, or medium? I realize this is a movie discussion board (that also curiously includes forums for television, music, and literature) but discussions about film, any film, removed from context and history makes less and less sense to me.

    Other points, in random order:

    - I'm all for a crash course, but why did you elide ~30 years of history? That's the part I choke on, and why I read your initial post as a dismissal. The first movie you mention by name was made in 1951, and from there you very quickly point out that movies from that era feel dated. Not long after, you're leaping to the conclusions about "2001."

    - "Frankenstein" is definitely sci-fi. The story is founded on science, and you couldn't tell the same story without it. Its themes around human bigotry and fear repeat in my recent examples: They're visible in "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) and the Star Trek's "Devil in the Dark" (1967), among others. There's a reason why people have lately taken to calling Shelley the "Mother of Science Fiction," after all. (And here is a pretty good riff on why the novel is not only science fiction, but hard science fiction.)

    - What you ascribe to "Forbidden Planet" can either be attributed to a different narrative style or plain ol' bad writing. Neither is unique to science fiction. For one, awkward exposition dumps are a lasting quality, it seems (cf two very recent examples in "Arrival" and "Annihilation"). But anyway, that there are immediate and obvious counter examples from the same era sorta negates your point about "2001's" narrative juice.

    - The influence of the Cold War is evident in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and "Thing from Another World," but the way each of them interprets that paranoia is markedly different. I didn't say anything about how one "doesn't deal with Cold War paranoia in its own way."

    - Those "Flash Gordon" serials starred film actors and debuted in theaters. They're essentially shorts, written and edited to fill space in a commercial market. How are they not movies? Does "La Jetee" not qualify because it's 28 minutes long and employs still photography? When Quentin Tarantino took "The Hateful 8," cut it up into 4 pieces, and dropped it on Netflix as a form of mini-series, did it cease to be a movie?

    - "Charly" is also science fiction because it requires a scientific backing to tell its story. Remove that, and the meaning changes.

    ... revealing previously hidden truths about the genre in question, which 2001 achieves by forgoing giving us any clear morals or easy answers about what exactly is going on with its story...
    Ambiguity isn't a virtue, eg: that the Space Baby can't be explained to anyone's satisfaction makes the image less meaningful, not more.

    ...unlike a lot of earlier Sci-Fi, it's completely honest about the fact that space, the future, and the universe as a whole are mysterious places/concepts that we'll never know all the answers to as a species, although none of that should discourage us from exploring all of them to the fullest.
    Oh, sure. It's sorta like "2001" tells us space is the final frontier. That humans have a need --- a mission, if you will -- to seek out new life and new civilizations. That we must boldly go where no one has gone before....

  2. #27
    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    There was no dismissal of old-school Sci-Fi literature in that write-up (it'd be news to me if there was, considering the fact that I grew up reading Asimov, and still love him to this day); again, the write-up was about Science-Fiction as a genre of film, and not as a collective media organism, since we're currently posting on a board for film discussion. Stop trying to invent agendas in my words that were never there.


    ^ Poster for the first "Flash Gordon" serial in 1936.



    ^ Magazine issue where Clarke's "The Sentinel" first appeared in 1951, and later formed the basis for Kubrick's movie.

    My point was: These things are more alike than they are different. How do you write off one without also writing off the other?

  3. #28
    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    My issue is: How many qualifiers does your premise need to hold up? Is that premise any good if it requires you to limit your viewpoint to a very specific year, decade, or medium? I realize this is a movie discussion board (that also curiously includes forums for television, music, and literature) but discussions about film, any film, removed from context and history makes less and less sense to me.
    Other points, in random order:

    - I'm all for a crash course, but why did you elide ~30 years of history? That's the part I choke on, and why I read your initial post as a dismissal. The first movie you mention by name was made in 1951, and from there you very quickly point out that movies from that era feel dated. Not long after, you're leaping to the conclusions about "2001."

    - "Frankenstein" is definitely sci-fi. The story is founded on science, and you couldn't tell the same story without it. Its themes around human bigotry and fear repeat in my recent examples: They're visible in "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) and the Star Trek's "Devil in the Dark" (1967), among others. There's a reason why people have lately taken to calling Shelley the "Mother of Science Fiction," after all. (And here is a pretty good riff on why the novel is not only science fiction, but hard science fiction.)

    - What you ascribe to "Forbidden Planet" can either be attributed to a different narrative style or plain ol' bad writing. Neither is unique to science fiction. For one, awkward exposition dumps are a lasting quality, it seems (cf two very recent examples in "Arrival" and "Annihilation"). But anyway, that there are immediate and obvious counter examples from the same era sorta negates your point about "2001's" narrative juice.

    - The influence of the Cold War is evident in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and "Thing from Another World," but the way each of them interprets that paranoia is markedly different. I didn't say anything about how one "doesn't deal with Cold War paranoia in its own way."

    - Those "Flash Gordon" serials starred film actors and debuted in theaters. They're essentially shorts, written and edited to fill space in a commercial market. How are they not movies? Does "La Jetee" not qualify because it's 28 minutes long and employs still photography? When Quentin Tarantino took "The Hateful 8," cut it up into 4 pieces, and dropped it on Netflix as a form of mini-series, did it cease to be a movie?

    Ambiguity isn't a virtue, eg: that the Space Baby can't be explained to anyone's satisfaction makes the image less meaningful, not more.

    Oh, sure. It's sorta like "2001" tells us space is the final frontier. That humans have a need --- a mission, if you will -- to seek out new life and new civilizations. That we must boldly go where no one has gone before....
    That depends on the larger context that both the qualifiers and the main premise itself are surrounded by; in this case, both of them are legitimate, because this project focuses on singlular case studies of genre deconstructions in film, which only needs the relevant historical background of the specific films/aspects of the genre that the case study is deconstructing, and attempting to write a more all-encompassing history of Sci-Fi (or any other genre) here would only serve to render these write-ups as unnecessarily bloated, and would distract from the main goal of the project. It's the reason why I "elided" the handful of Sci-Fi films that existed before the 50's (which is a question you already answered yourself in that post anyway, by acknowledging that this is "a crash course"), because those were the films that defined the genre at that time, and why I focused on the dated aspects of them, even though there are 50's Sci-Fi films that I personally enjoy, because that's what Kubrick was primarily deconstructing with 2001 (as opposed to something like Metropolis).

    I respect that you feel Frankenstein and Charly are Sci-Fi, but what genre(s) any movie falls into is always a subjective matter, and I don't feel that either of them are predominantly Sci-Fi films on the whole, so I couldn't include them in the historical background section (it's like how I feel Face/Off is predominantly an Action movie, even though it contains certain elements that are undeniably Sci-Fi).

    Awkward/unnecessary exposition isn't a flaw that's exclusive to Sci-Fi (and I never said it was), but it's one that is particularly detrimental to that particular genre, since it tends to benefit from inspiring a sense of wonder within us inone way or another, and over-explaining things saps that quality. And, if Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is one of your counter-examples of a 50's Sci-Fi that wasn't burdened with exposition, than it's one that just serves to prove my point, as, while a short film, literally half of it (at least half) consists of nothing but people speculating, researching, or expositing information through dialogue (sometimes redundantly so), unraveling the mystery of what's going on in Santa Mira to us detail-by-detail, and it's impossible for me to name any recent Sci-Fi, Arrival, Annhilation, or otherwise, that held my hand anywhere near as much as Body Snatchers did. And all of that's without me even factoring in the overbearing musical cues, the introductory framing device, and the periodic, super-unnecessary voice-overs from Dr. Bennell, all of which have the cinematic effect of grabbing our feet (in addition to our hands) and dragging us through the film, which was otherwise pretty good (although obviously, it would've been better if those aspects had been toned down).

    But regardless of what form that paranoia pops up in those films, it's still there, which is another way that 2001 distinguished itself from those films, since the echo of Cold War tensions is an aspect that Kubrick specifically choose to deemphasize in the final film.

    No, because The Hateful Eight was still originally produced as a feature film, regardless of how the ADD-aiding execs at Netflix have it chopped up (and as opposed to the Flash Gordon serials, whose relevant influence on the genre I already acknowledged in my original write-up anyway, and again, I hold zero "disdain" for them personally).

    Star Trek isn't comparable to 2001 in its portrayal of space exploration, because there's very little mystery, if any at all, in the average episode of that show (and certainly not in "The Devil In The Dark"), and whether or not the ambiguity of 2001 benefits it is another matter of personal opinion; I happen to feel that it does, and if you browse the opinions of other fans of the film, you'll find that a lot of them feel the same way.
    Last edited by StuSmallz; 12-03-2020 at 08:00 AM.

  4. #29
    Since 1929 Morris Schæffer's Avatar
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    Looks like you opened something up Stu. Hang in there!
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  5. #30
    Quote Quoting Morris Schæffer (view post)
    Looks like you opened something up Stu. Hang in there!
    Thanks! And yeah, me and my projects are like a mother bear with her cubs; don't mess with my babies, people!
    Last edited by StuSmallz; 12-03-2020 at 10:24 AM.

  6. #31
    Also, another common aspect of 50's Sci-Fi that 2001 subverted (that I didn't have space to mention in my original write-up) is how they tended to go out of their way to explicitly reaffirm familiar, traditional notions of religious faith, which you can see in the paraphrased quotes below...

    The Day The Earth Stood Still: [
    ]

    War Of The Worlds: [
    ]

    ​Forbidden Planet: [
    ]

    ...as if they were afraid they would scare their audiences on some level with the futuristic settings/technology they depicted, and wanted to say "Hey! We may be aliens/living in the future, but we still believe in God the same as you, okay?", which is a stark contrast to the way that 2001 not only never mentions the concepts of God or faith, but also basically elevates some sort of mysterious alien intelligence to being on the same level as God (right down to being invisible), before basically doing the exact same thing to man himself at the end, wouldn't you say?
    Last edited by StuSmallz; 01-13-2021 at 08:35 AM.

  7. #32
    collecting tapes Skitch's Avatar
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    Good point.

  8. #33
    Director bac0n's Avatar
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    Good point indeed. Forbidden Planet seemed to go out of its way to reassert judeo-christian dogma. I'm surprised Dr. Morbius didn't celebrate the Eucharist after he introduced his daughter.

    One of my favorites of the sci-fi genre, altho it lands in the late 70s, is Black Hole, which had a huge throwback vibe to it. It also is heavy in the religious assertions, I'm sure as an homage to its 50s sci-fi forebears, and quite possibly as a counterpoint to 2001.
    Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony, Hibbing)

  9. #34
    Since 1929 Morris Schæffer's Avatar
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    Black hole is not without cheesiness, but neither is it devoid of Majestic sights. MVP is John Barry. What a score.
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  10. #35
    Quote Quoting StuSmallz (view post)
    Also, another common aspect of 50's Sci-Fi that 2001 subverted (that I didn't have space to mention in my original write-up) is how they tended to go out of their way to explicitly reaffirm familiar, traditional notions of religious faith, which you can see in the paraphrased quotes below...

    []

    ...as if they were afraid they would scare their audiences on some level with the futuristic settings/technology they depicted, and wanted to say "Hey! We may be aliens/living in the future, but we still believe in God the same as you, okay?", which is a stark contrast to the way that 2001 not only never mentions the concepts of God or faith, but also basically elevates some sort of mysterious alien intelligence to being on the same level as God (right down to being invisible), before basically doing the exact same thing to man himself at the end, wouldn't you say?
    I guess the question I have is: What counts as "subversion"? After all, even a highly conventional genre film will be marginally different from other similar films, and highly original films like Kubrick's will still obey more conventions than they revise or reject: e.g., 2001 largely, if not entirely, obeys norms of continuity editing.

    Moreover, in revising or rejecting one set of norms, filmmakers often draw upon other sets of norms which supply their own conventions. Probably the most important difference between 2001 and earlier Hollywood science fiction movies is its combination certain generic staples of science fiction (space travel, artificial intelligence, aliens) with the narrative conventions of postwar European art cinema (episodic plotting, narrative ellipses, thematic ambiguity). To use the terms of the Russian formalists, the art movie conventions are the film's dominant, subordinating and deforming the conventions of Hollywood science fiction movies. In other words, it seems to me that the film's originality results more from its dynamic synthesis of multiple diverse traditions rather than its having a straightforwardly antagonistic relationship with any single tradition. Indeed, merely "subverting" genre conventions (i.e., not doing the expected thing for the sake of not doing what's expected) requires no more originality or artistry than blindly obeying them.
    Last edited by baby doll; 12-25-2020 at 01:27 AM.
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  11. #36
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    Quote Quoting Morris Schæffer (view post)
    Black hole is not without cheesiness, but neither is it devoid of Majestic sights. MVP is John Barry. What a score.
    No shit, man. Pure brilliance. I just love how he plays on the dread and pure helplessness in the face of such an impossible force as is the black hole.

    And Robert Forster - a rare genre example of a rational, charismatic, resolute space captain, who does everything right.

    I love this movie.
    Losing is like fertilizer: it stinks for a while, then you get used to it. (Tony, Hibbing)

  12. #37
    collecting tapes Skitch's Avatar
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    I adore The Black Hole. Any mention of it in any capacity and that score immediately starts screaming through my head. As a kid I didnt realize it was Disneys rush answer to Star Wars, to me it was just another sci-fi movie. It's on my list of grails that the second it hits bluray it's a preorder. The only way to get it mildly HD is purchase digital like Vudu.

    Also that ending is FUCKED up, and I love it.

  13. #38
    Since 1929 Morris Schæffer's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Skitch (view post)
    I adore The Black Hole. Any mention of it in any capacity and that score immediately starts screaming through my head. As a kid I didnt realize it was Disneys rush answer to Star Wars, to me it was just another sci-fi movie. It's on my list of grails that the second it hits bluray it's a preorder. The only way to get it mildly HD is purchase digital like Vudu.

    Also that ending is FUCKED up, and I love it.
    It is on Blu-ray since circa August 2019:

    https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-B.../43569/#Review

    But it's Disney so not super easy to come by and not cheap when you do. Video Quality ain't tops but bests dvd obviously.
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  14. #39
    collecting tapes Skitch's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Morris Schæffer (view post)
    It is on Blu-ray since circa August 2019:

    https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-B.../43569/#Review

    But it's Disney so not super easy to come by and not cheap when you do. Video Quality ain't tops but bests dvd obviously.
    what the hell

  15. #40
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    I bought the DVD earlier this year as I couldn't find the bluray for a price I was willing to pay.

    DVD was just fine.
    I'm not being dramatic, I just feel like I'm going to throw up my heart and my head is going to fly away like a bird.

  16. #41
    Fine, I guess I will be the voice of reason: The Black Hole is really bad.

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  17. #42
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    Quote Quoting transmogrifier (view post)
    Fine, I guess I will be the voice of reason: The Black Hole is really bad.

    You're welcome. Merry Christmas!

    Schell overacting again? This thread has piqued my interest a little.
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  18. #43
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    Hahaha of course. He chews up scenery like Mothra eating drapes.
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