Friday, July 25, 2008

Camera Obscura: Alien Politics In The Human World

Swimming naked and chasing a dollar bill on a fish hook is one way to fame. NPR covered the story of the wee lad on the cover of Nirvana's album Nevermind this week. "Quite a few people in the world have seen my penis," he says from his home in Los Angeles. "So that's kinda cool. I'm just a normal kid living it up and doing the best I can while I'm here."


Robert E, Howard's heroine Red Sonja is set to return to film via director Robert Rodriguez, with his girlfriend, Rose McGowan in the title role and the villainous Howard character of Thulsa Doom (played by James Earl Jones in "Conan The Barbarian") is set to get his own movie too, played this time by actor Djimon Hounsou. Thulsa Doom is one of the coolest names ever for a villain.


Speaking of pulp fictions and comics, what for many many years had been The Comic Book Convention in the nation is now much more a Hollywood festival, akin to the Sundance Festival or Cannes -- The San Diego Comic Con is jammed pack with movie stars. Extensive coverage of the event is here at Cinematical. Read about "Tron 2", a "Robocop" remake, the new "Day The Earth Stood Still" starring Kenau Reeves as Klaatu and much, much more.

Check out the trailer for "The Day The Earth Stood Still" here.

The 1951 movie which has such amazing iconic imagery and added some intellectual heft to Hollywood's breezy take on science fiction will be tough to improve. That movie was based on the short story "Farewell To The Master" by Harry Bates, published in 1940 by Astounding Magazine and you can read it online here.

The movie (and the story) tackle a simple, profound and common human experience - meeting someone who Is Not From Around Here. The movie script added global warfare and atomic attacks to the mix, like many other 50s-era sci-fi, but focused on the human concepts of warfare and society rather than bug-eyed atomic monsters.

Politics was the key theme in the movie - a massive UFO lands in Washington D.C., and since America is the world's superpower nation, the alien is there to talk to everyone through us. So much film and television in the the post-WW2 America was wrestling with the after-effects of the battle, the morality (or lack of it) in all types of human interaction and conflict.

It's no surprise that these stories are returning today. Back then children and adults were constantly drilled to respond to nuclear attacks, and today we live in the age of the Terror Alert status.

Another profoundly influential science-fiction tale is returning too: "The Twilight Zone", now being assembled by Leonardo DiCaprio and Warner Brothers. Like "The Day The Earth Stood Still", Rod Serling's long-running TV series focused on political and moral conflicts in sharply defined episodes. Personal identity, politics, and often purely philosophical dramas formed the basis of this unique show which fueled political debates in the 50s and 60s and which echoes today in our deeply divided political climate.


  1. james3:24 PM

    Also,lest we forget DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL,won a special oscar.I just sa Sam Rami is doing a show for the CW network called 13. Do you have any info on it?

  2. it's a game show, set as a horror-reality show mix where contestants have to endure "horror movie style challenges".

    the idea for this show has been kicked around between studios for a few years, and was first called "House Of Horror." Raimi has teamed his Ghost House Pictures Company with Jay Bienstock ("Survivor," "The Apprentice") shepherding it along. Variety announced The CW has ordered up eight episodes that will "utilize horror-themed challenges to knock players off one by one, until just one is left, having survived all that bloodshed."

    Bienstock told Variety "Think about those old movies - we want to put people in a place like that, where they have to deal with their fears and anxieties. They'll end up surprising one another."

    A new drama horror show set for cable this Fall is "True Blood" for HBO - a vampire tales. The San Diego Comic Con links in the post above should have some serious buzz about a vampire movie "Twilight", which will hit theatres the same day Day The Earth Stood Still.

    and not to be picky, but it was a Golden Globe given the movie, not an Oscar, for Best Film Promoting International Understanding