Flirtin� With Disaster

Flirtin� With Disaster - Flirtin' With Disaster...

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Flirtin’ With Disaster Disastrous Fictions and The Imagination Thereof by Science fiction films often, in one way or another, center on disaster. The calamity can range from the small-scale, like a dangerous experiment changing a scientist into a disgusting man-fly hybrid, to the large scale, such as two nuclear bomb tests accidentally throwing the Earth off-tilt and dooming the human race in the process. From alien invasions to nuclear fallout, science fiction film has explored just about every kind of cataclysm that can be contained within the four walls. Though the genre is certainly a varied one, some critics of science fiction film have noticed certain trends and mainstays that find their way into many of the disaster-oriented science fiction films. In her essay, Imagination of Disaster , Susan Sontag argues that not only is science fiction film as predictable as the “western” genre, but science fiction film’s portrayal of disaster is always handled in the same way; by emphasizing and glorifying the spectacle of catastrophe. While Sontag’s argument certainly fits in some cases, films like The Road Warrior and The End of August at the Hotel Ozone are prime examples of how large- scale disaster and grandiose plotlines emphasizing moral simplification are not the only things science fiction disaster films are capable of achieving. Whereas Sontag argues that a character-driven, emotionally complex science fiction disaster film is not possible, Hotel Ozone and Road Warrior both show how those themes can work well within the
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parameters of a disaster fiction. These two movies poke holes in many of Sontag’s generalizations. The crux of Sontag’s argument is best summed up in one of her own quotes, where she notes that “the science fiction film is concerned with the aesthetics of destruction… the peculiar beauties to be found in wreaking havoc, making a mess. And it is in the imagery of destruction that the core of a good science fiction film lies.” (Sontag, 41) According to Sontag, all the good science fiction films are able to pull out all the stops, to redefine splendor with their bells and whistles and sets and scale. No mention is made of character development, or group dynamics, but of “populous (cities)” (41) and “things, objects, (and) machinery.” (43) Throughout Sontag’s essay, she refuses to recognize that science fiction film, when dealing with disaster, can certainly examine characters and the human condition far beyond the actions and events going on onscreen. Science fiction disaster films can use the canvas of disaster to paint a moving and nuanced picture through which the viewer can see the characters and the groups as more than just products of their current predicaments. George Miller’s
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This note was uploaded on 03/29/2008 for the course IDS 4961 taught by Professor Orgeron during the Fall '07 term at N.C. State.

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Flirtin� With Disaster - Flirtin' With Disaster...

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