Science has intrigued mankind for ages and continues to do so till date. Science fiction is a genre that has inspired novels and movies alike. The space is an endless ocean of possibilities with a plethora of secrets, some which the human mind can comprehend, and some which are still to be understood or found.
In some cases, the idea behind the movies have been so invigorating and avant-garde, that either the audience and critics were not ready for them or were totally blown away by the concept.
With amazingly superior and radical thought processes, these movies have now become an important part of pop culture, which the audience just laps up.
Furthermore, these being the forerunners of science fiction films today, opened up a lot of space (pun intended) and a portal (again!) for directors to think beyond the normal way of filmmaking and perception of the universe and the human psyche.
Here are 6 such movies which forever changed the genre of sci-fi:
Can you imagine that this epic movie was panned by critics when it was released?
A cult classic now, with a massive fandom, this movie, with its futuristic setting in a galaxy far, far away, tells the story of Luke Skywalker who chances upon a secret message from another planet and joins the Rebel Alliance headed by the beautiful Princess Leia (yes, the one with the golden bikini and the epic hairstyle), to destroy the Death Star and crosses paths with space smuggler, Han Solo and is helped by Jedi Obi-Wan in the mission.
© Lucasfilm Ltd. / 20th Century Fox
With robots C-3PO and R2-D2, Chewbacca, light sabers, Jedis, spaceships (The Falcon) and an iconic villain, Darth Vader, this movie catapulted the fame of its leads, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamilton, Harrison Ford and director George Lucas, and spawned a horde of sequels and spin-offs, redefining the genre and changing pop culture forever.
Looking at the massive success the franchise has been seeing over the years, maybe “the Force” was lost on the critics.
Another movie which didn’t get the required fame and recognition when it released, the neo-noir sci-fi thriller starring Harrison Ford focuses on bioengineered beings called “replicants/skins” who are illegally living on Earth and “blade runner” Rick Deckard is tasked to find and kill them. Making his mission difficult is the pondering of the creatures on their meaning of life.
© Warner Bros.
Despite having an A-list star and spell-binding special effects, this movie was not accepted by the audience and critics alike, but has amassed a cult following and inspired other movies with the same formula of questioning the humane values of a soul.
Nearly 40 years later, the 2018 sequel, Blade Runner 2049, starring Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling was released and much appreciated critically but commercially was not a big hit. Maybe after another 40 years!
For anyone who grew up in the late 1990s to early 2000s, this movie was the epitome of movie perfection. Keanu Reeves, as the computer programmer Neo, with his signature black shades goes about destroying machines to save humankind who are living in a dystopian future; where the reality is simulated called the Matrix and the machines are the overlords, fooling humans.
© Village Roadshow Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures
With its superb visual effects, it made us experience “bullet time” for the first time, the camera appearing to be moving at normal speed, but the action takes place in slow-motion, and was later implemented in a lot of movies. Remember the time you used to do that with your friends, trying to recreate the moves from the movie?
It was a critical and commercial success with a 4-Oscar sweep; the effects and acting making it a movie way ahead of its time.
This epic movie, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is known to be one of the most influential sci-fi movies of all times. Its success is attributed to its accurate portrayal of the spacecraft, beautiful classical score and the impressive visuals with minimum dialogues. The revolutionary movie was a feat, so much that the screenplay inspired a novel, based on the movie, ‘The Sentinel’.
Dealing with themes of artificial intelligence, evolution, existentialism, human emotions and extra-terrestrial life, this movie focuses on a journey to Jupiter with an apperceptive computer HAL which can sense emotions, after a black monolith altering human life shows up on one of the Moon’s crater.
© Stanley Kubrick Productions / MGM
The movie portrays human life in its beauty and the mysteries it carries and is one of the important contributors for the movie to be such a hit. It is by far one of Stanley Kubrick’s best movie, which show his expertise in movie-making and his radical though process, much advanced than the era he lived in.
Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi fantasy movie deals with the friendship between a young boy, Elliot and an alien, endearingly called, E.T. who form an indelible bond which is tested throughout the movie. Based on aliens and imaginary friends, the story is as cute as the children it stars. It makes one wish they had a friend like him; after all, who doesn’t like friends with supernatural powers?
© Universal Pictures
Drew Barrymore as Gertie, Elliot’s sister, is adorable in her breakout role and it shows the innocence of children and how they don’t judge people. unlike adults. The main theme being friendship, based on Spielberg’s personal experiences, this movie surpassed ‘Star Wars’ at the box-office only to be defeated by Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park’. The communicator used by E.T to make calls to his family is ingenious and exemplifies the director’s outstripping and superior thinking.
A ground-breaking movie, one of the oldest movies to be featured in the list, it shows a dreary future where society has been divided into high class employees who live in high rises and reign over the lower classes, who toil to keep the city going by working on machines powering the city. Trouble strikes when the city master’s son, Freder, finds out about the machinations that rule the city and its horrible underbelly.
German director Fritz Lang did an unbelievable job with the movie, playing on themes of classism and social justice, the movie was a pioneer in using mirroring techniques, known as Schufftan process, with model miniatures and filming with actors so that it seemed they were inside the models. The process was later used by various directors, notably Alfred Hitchcock.
Visually appealing and not relying much on dialogue, this movie was not a success when it released, and parts of it were lost over the years. A fairly complete one is present in a museum in Argentina and was re-released in 2010 and has since gained popularity.
What are you thinking? Go and watch these now and…
Photo: © Lucasfilm Ltd. (Main Image)