Saturday, November 30, 2013

Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes is more than just an entertaining science fiction movie.  Released in 1968, a volatile time in America, the film provided a look into the future of the country if it continued then current trends.  More than any other theme, the movie comments on the state of racism in the US.  Other than the obvious monkey connection, it shows segregation and poor treatment of the natives in a similar fashion to events from the civil rights movement.  Some little things, like spraying Taylor and the others with a hose, are direct references to the country's racism.  The general plot lines tie in better with the theme, as shown in the trial scene.  Taylor was brought to trial for no reason, and was told by the judges that his opinions were not valid and he had no rights, as the apes were the master race.  Even though Taylor is speaking the truth, he is treated like a lesser human being, both verbally and physically.  Clearly, Taylor's treatment was a reference to the conditions African Americans were faced with when this movie came out.  For example, the apes forcibly muted Taylor and the natives so they would not be able to communicate or, in Taylor's case, show  that they have intelligence.  This is similar to cases where African Americans were not allowed in schools or were violently harassed when they did go.  Because Taylor is the hero who finally breaks from the apes' imprisonment, it would make sense that the film is more a condemnation of racism than a supporter of it.  Towards the end of the film, the theme of war and destruction comes out.  Taylor has little faith in humanity, as he believes them to be destructive and harmful to no end.  At the end when he learns that people had destroyed their own planet which eventually led to the apes taking over, he realizes he was right in his assumptions.  Although there wasn't much talk of war up to this point, this scene has a clear anti war message.  War wasn't a popular of favorable topic at this time, as theVietnam was was reaching it's height with the Tet offensive happening just weeks before the film's release.  The ending scene could have been a way for the screenwriters to voice their opinions that war will eventually destroy the world.  Overall, the film is both a worthy science fiction film about the future and a commentary on then present day America.

Friday, November 29, 2013

THX 1138

THX 1138 primarily concerns itself with the idea that people will soon be made identical and stripped of identity.  The movie achieves this in multiple ways.  The first and most obvious is the color choice.  Almost the entire city is either white or grey, and the clothes that everyone wears are also all white.  Having everyone look the same, skin color included, makes them seem subhuman and without purpose.  This is confirmed by the scene in which the explosions at the factory kill a bunch of workers who were ordered to stand there and not try to evacuate.  This shows that they are disposable and have no use beyond work.  It is ironic that they are making robots, but they are in a way themselves manufactured to be robots.  The pills they are forced to take is another way that they are made robotic.  They are purged of their emotions and, combined with their letter and number name, forced to work and live in strange conditions.  In a way, it seems like Lucas could have been referencing concentration camps and the number ID that the prisoners were known by. One idea pointed out in the reading is the idea that nature represents freedom in the movie.  The only time we see anything outside of the underground city is the very end when he escapes.  There isn't much nature, only a large sunset and some rocks.  Literally, nature is his freedom because he's out of the city, and also figuratively because there are no trees or plants in the city.  The sunset is the most profound of the scene because it is the most amount of color scene throughout the movie.  Since the entire city, except for the yellow production area, is grey, the orange sunset is a nice change of pace, and considering that it was the final scene of the movie, a very unique conclusion.  The movie also does a nice job of leaving the ending open to speculation.  The audience is left wondering if thx manages to survive outside the city or if he will die.  Seeing as how he escaped all the guards and maze design of the city, he probably could live for a while, especially if the world has any above ground cities.  Although some of the redone special effects detract from the atmosphere, the film is a successful portrayal of what could happen if society is micromanaged and controlled to no end.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Of all the mid twentieth century sci-fi movies warning about the dangers of nuclear weapons, Gojira is probably the most obvious.  Of course, coming out of Japan not long after world war two, the film has a closer relationship with nuclear power than any other film prior or after.  Gojira is a giant mutated sea lizard that only exists because of nuclear weapons testing.  When it destroys the city and kills all those people, it's symbolic of the destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons, of which that Japan knew very well.  One interesting part of the film is the archaeologist who argues that Gojira should not be killed, but rather preserved and studied.  This might have been a way for the film to argue that nuclear technology can have it's benefits other than weapons and death.  It's likely that at the time, this was an unpopular opinion in Japan, if it was even talked about at all.  Ultimately, the majority decided against keeping Gojira in one piece and killed it.  The archaeologist eventually decided that this would be the better option after all and voted to kill it as well.  At the end of the film, he wonders whether or not all the other nuclear weapons tests taking place throughout the world will create other monsters like gojira. This is the main message of the movie, that nuclear weapons can only lead to death and other unfortunate consequences.  Seeing this movie after the Fukushima crisis makes it seem like an ironic prediction.  Maybe if the archaeologist got his way and they studied Gojira instead of vaporizing him, maybe they would have figured out technology to make better plants.  Compared to movies with similar themes, like Them!,  Gojira is definitely more pessimistic.  The ants never killed as many people or were as destructive as Gojira.  While Them makes nuclear technology out to be an inconvenience and something that can be dangerous to a smaller population of people, Gojira is a movie that warns about nuclear power having the capability to destroy the whole world.  If any country other than Japan produced this movie, it would seem less authentic, which is maybe why Gojira's message comes across as a genuine warning