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November 2014 / Diary / by Graeme Swanson

Sci-Fi at the BFI

The enormity of space and the vastness of the future can only be fully appreciated on the big screen. This (and many other reasons) is why you should get down to the South Bank this December. The BFI’s Days of Fear and Wonder is a new season that shows off the best of science fiction in film and television. Star Wars and 2001, arguably the best children’s and adult takes on the genre, are accompanied by lesser known films and talks on their equally unique music and special effects – the terror and joy of the future is covered in a preview of Alex Garland’s new film Ex Machina. Of course, if you can’t get down to the BFI you can always watch the excellent BFI Player on your laptop – it’s as if you’re already living in the future!

But science fiction has an image problem. For every Alien there is a dozen The Cat From Outer Space. Ask someone to think of a sci-fi film and few will get further than Star Wars – not even Star Wars but a clichéd riddled remake in their imagination. Sarcastic Robots Fighting in Space III hasn’t been made since the ’80s but it’s a powerful idea that (like all the best cyborgs) just won’t die. Sci-Fi can take us to places conventional fiction can’t, but its metaphors are accused of being too simplistic. In Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers for example, humans dress in grey and black and embrace violence under Speer-like architecture (what could they possibly be alluding to?), while Star Trek has famously been described as Wagon Train in space. However, if you can explain the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey in one sentence and without using your hands we’d love to hear it.

The BFI are here to open minds and change opinions with their big cinema screens and massive powerful lasers. The Cat From Outer Space will not be appearing in this season.

Throughout December, various venues including BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 (020 7928 3232)