L295 0255 KILGORE
American Film Culture

4:00P-5:15P D (30) 3 CR.
7:00P-9:00P T (required film showings)

What does it mean to be human in highly technologized environment? Is science, technology and rationality good or bad? Will the future be a time of efficient, ruthless oppression or of happiness for all? Over the past century science fiction films have addressed all of the questions, creating a unique and powerful expressive form. In it science is celebrated and condemned. Humanity is defined against its others and sometimes redefined as the other. Audiences are taken to distant places, other times and the ordinary is made strange. At its best cinematic science fiction allows us to escape from the mundane in ways that are challenging and pleasurable.

In this course we will define science fiction film as a genre, explore the meaning of special effects, and examine the impact of design on narrative. Major narrative themes will be spaceflight, time travel, artificial intelligence, futurism (utopia/dystopia), and first contact with the alien. Films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Time Machine, Destination Moon, Forbidden Planet, The day the Earth Stood Still, and King Kong will be our primary texts. The student will also be introduced to relevant critical literature on science fiction and film. This literature will provide the historical background, explications of technique, and critical vocabulary necessary in defining our approach to the films. Films and sections of films will be screened either in class and/or at the regularly scheduled screening session on Tuesday night/afternoon.

Three exams (two in-class exams and a final), a film journal, and a research presentation are required to complete the course in good standing.