Friday, June 27, 2014

Science Fiction and Disasters

In The Imagination of Disaster Susan Sontag puts out a very strong criticism on science fiction movies. The author claims that science fiction movies are more about disaster rather than science. The reason the author gives for why we like science fiction movies is because it’s an escape into exotic dangerous situations. From a psychological point of view, Sontag insists the one job fantasy can do is to help us escape our boring lives and to destruct from anything going on in a person’s life whether it be terror or a threat. When people watch the turmoil that goes on in these movies on the big screen, it helps them forget the turmoil in their life for a while. Sontag insists that the core of a good science fiction film lies on the “imagery of destruction”. Sontag continues the essay and notes that a “typical science fiction film is predictable”. Sontag then goes on to give scenarios of science fiction films to show the basic components that make a science fiction film saying one is for the wide screen, and the other scenario is for the low budget black and white films. What Sontag is trying to say by putting out these scenarios is that all science fiction movies are basically the same with the hero and disaster. Sontag also points out that no matter what happens at the end of the film, the hero and his family always seem to escape while the invaders have been destroyed. Sontag refers films over novels stating the film has a unique strengths, one of which is the representation of the extraordinary. She adds that films can provide something novels can’t: “sensuous elaboration”.
            After reading this article by Susan Sontag, it seems to me she isn’t a lover of science fiction movies. Sontag is very critical of science fiction films, claiming there is absolutely no social criticism and are very predictable. But let’s not forget when she wrote this essay and what type of science fiction films she is talking about. She wrote this in the 60’s and is therefore referring to science fiction films in those times. I feel if she would see the science fiction of today and its fascination, she will change her view on science fiction films.

            #4: Sontag states in her essay how science fiction films typically play out. She mentions that most science fiction films are more than just about science, they are about disaster and usually include a hero and his wife. The movie I want to analyze using Sontag’s critical approach is “The Last Women on Earth”. This film was a science fiction film that tells the story of 3 survivors of an apocalypse which left the world wiped of humans. The story was about Harold, his friend, Martin and his wife who are spending time in Puerto Rico on a boating trip. Later on they conclude that an interruption of oxygen has wiped out all human life, and fear that they are the only three survivors on the earth. The hero, in this case Harold takes matters in his own hand and takes charge of the situation. He goes out to fish to find some food. As the film goes on, the 2 men get into a fight as the tension and need for women begin to affect them. Later it is shown that Martin has died from his injuries and Harold and his wife are the only 2 left in the world. Sontag reminds us that science fiction films include heroes and are more about disaster than science, and this movie was a perfect example of this. This film was a science fiction film but had more disaster in it than science, in this case a mysterious apocalypse which wiped out the whole world, with the hero taking charge.


  1. I agree with you Sontag don't seem to like science fiction much. But she does make a point, that the films do seem to focus more on the disaster rather then the science. It's probably because it would be more entertaining for the audience with all the action and less thinking about science.

  2. I think you make a good point saying that she would probably change her opinion on Sci-Fi films, because not all of the sci-fi films are about the world ending or aliens invading earth, like it seems in her essay.

  3. Good response I totally agree with your argument and what you stated. What if storage does not like science fiction movies at all and is just a critic on science fiction movies? We understand that she says these types of movies are predictable, but how do you think she came up with this conclusion and how she figures it out p?

  4. I'm curious why, if you felt her theories don't hold up to current sci-fi films, you didn't challenge her by analyzing a modern horror film.

    Hopefully, you don't see being critical as the same thing as disliking anymore :-)

    1. Oh, and what does your pic have to do with your response?