Science Fiction Repair Shop: Prefab-o-formula Dreaming Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2013-07-27 14:00:00 No comments

One of my common complaints about SF&F is how the culture that both produces it and consumes it tends towards being unthinkingly insular, with the end result being an increasingly samey product. They don't know what they're missing half the time, and over time, neither does anyone else.

How this hits home for me sometimes comes via rather roundabout paths. Case in point: the other day I was browsing Apple's iTunes movie trailers section, and I mistook the new Hunger Games movie (Catching Fire) for another film entitled The Patience Stone. I clicked on the latter, thinking it was the former:

For a second I thought, "Now that's an eye-catching palette for a film, especially an SF film!"

And then I realized I was looking at the wrong page.

Wouldn't it be something to have an SF film that had the color palette of something like The Patience Stone? Granted, I understand that Catching Fire is a dystopia, and that dystopian futures are not meant to look inviting, but the same drab brushed-metal gray seems to predominate in just about every SF movie's color scheme these days: Elysium, Gravity, Oblivion, Europa Report, Pacific Rim. Maybe it's just resignation on the part of the designers to the idea that no matter what we do, the future's going to look like it came either from Detroit or Ikea (or a landfill). Or maybe it's a simple lack of real imagination.

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Digression. I suspect one of the reasons a lot of hardcore SF&F movie buffs tend to lavish so much affection on the products of earlier, "analog" decades is not just because those movies featured that many more real things photographed by real cameras (although that's a big part of it). It's because the design work that went into such films drew on a broader, more eclectic pool of influences — one bigger than just the imagery of previous movies. Brian Froud's The Dark Crystal comes to mind, a film that for all its flaws had no shortage of original imagery and flavor.

Tags: Science Fiction Repair Shop imagery imagination movies science fiction