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[SF-INDEX]  [^^LIT index]  [^^TERMS (master index)]

See also:  -[sf tv]-


NOTE: Please feel free to link-to/copy these pages. If you down-load the source, you will see many specific links and sub-links. Any q's pls email freely to Frank: FrankVanPelt AT techie DOT com SPOILERS THROUGH OUT; these are intended as essentially "literature study" pages... sf rules the universe! "Science Fiction is the Literature of the Future" - James Blish (best known as the author who "novelised" the original Star Trek series) See also: -[Film]- (as medium) esp: -[Film: DieHard]- (study film) btw: I *would* like to "standardise" the entries with a sort of "trading card" entry on east. M/W: two of your abs fab refs are: -[]- (I/N Movie D/B) -[]- (if they don't have it, lord help a duck!) Share and enjoy froods, viddy well my slovos, my brothers, sisters, and neechers! NOTE: As much as i would like to, i have NOT included fantasy works (eg, Zena, Heavy Metal, etc) -- much as i love those kinds of things as well; alas. See also: [SF index] [SF: Futurism] [SF General] [SF Technology] [SF Writing] [SF Effects] [SF Elements] -^_6 [LITERATURE INDEX] [The ALT LIST!] (ah, those literary weirdos!) [terms] (index of indexes)

--- THE SF FILM ---

(sf film as film literature) On this page: {
Intro} {2001} (& 2010) {AI} {Andromeda Strain} {"Back to the Future"} {BladeRunner} {Imposter} {Minority Report} {Screamers} {A Boy and His Dog} {Brazil} {Butterfly Effect} {Contact} {Day the Earth Stood Still} {"Cyborg 2087"} {Dr. StrangeLove} {FailSafe} {On the Beach} {Alas, Babylon} {Fantastic Voyage} {Farenheit 451} {Ghost World} {Godzilla} {Harry Potter} {I, Robot} {Jason and the Argonauts} {Jurassic Park} (& etc) The Last StarFighter {K-PAX} "Hombre mirando al sudeste" (Man facing southeast) {The Matrix} {Momento} {Pan's Labyrinth} {RoboCop} {Power Rangers} {s1m0ne} {"Sliding Doors"} {War Games} {Yojimbo} {Zardoz} {refs} {Links} {Back to the TOP of this Page}

SF Film

In this section: {
Overview} {Brief History, etc}

SF Film: Intro

Seeing as SF is associated with "flights of fancy" or in general with futurist/What-If/etc thinking, it is only natural that film makers would use it as a means to say what they want. The lesson early-learned in TV was with Rod Serling and others, in such series of serious thought as "Ben Casey", "The Defenders", etc. What they had written to open the public dialog via TV - it's hard to remember that prior to TV, most townfolk openly debated issues, instead of waiting to be told what to think. Anyway, when the writers for TV came on the scene there were already CENSORS FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD in place. The so-called "Hayes Code" had come about because films had either gotten a bit too racey (read that as sex) or at worst didn't clearly show that "CRIME DOESN'T PAY!", etc. Thus, when TV came up, what you could say about politics and such was already at the very least *scrutinised* - and not just by the official central scrutiniser, but self-appointed guardians of public decency. And if we take a page from the pychic scrap book of Orson Welles and "Citizen Kane", we can all too readily see what happens to anyone who "steps too far out of line". Enter SF. TV, and Rod Serling: You can almost say *anything* that that you want as long as the words are spoken by some gloppy monster, alien, creature, computer, etc. This torch was carried by producer/writer Joseph de Stefano in his "Outer Limits" series, as well by Gene "Great Bird of the Galaxy" Roddenbery with Star Trek. He told his writers: Write what sticks in your craw! And of course we got the race question brought out in almost absurdist theatre style as two men half-black/half-white - but each thinking the other's symmetry was WRONG! CAN'T YOU SEE?? And such early TV successes fed back into the theatres and the cycle towards GOOD SF went onward... So, now back to the past.... When film came onto the scene, it was only natural that it would be coupled with SF - after all following 1900, it was the age of science; what with the telegraph, telephone, steam engine, railroad, and soon radio and even rocketry. The worlds primary SF writers were of course H.G. Welles and Jules Verne who were not only seen as visionaries but inspired many other authors to take up the concepts as well. And of course, then in 1905 with Einstein's simple eqaution, and then with the world's first World War (and first *modern* war - planes, dirgibles, mustard gas, the machine gun, tanks, etc) -- all provoked many thoughtful writers and more so would-be film makers. As far as Ameican films are concerned there are three main stages: Early fantasy films - an sf adventure is a form of "dream trip". Cautionary tales - mainly inspired by works by Fritz Lang (mainly "Metropolis", (1927)), as well as films such as "Things to Come" (1936), based on H.G. Welles' story. Red Scare films - coming up as parables of the cold war dressed in SF clothing. Best representation is "Invasion of The Body Snatchers" (1956). And then (finally) came "Treu SF Films" - Robots, Rockets, and beyond. One of the first was "Destination Moon" (1950) was action/adventure, but almost as exactly based on what space travel would actually be like and was based on a story by SF writer/engineer/futurist Robert A. Heinlein - not until "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) would the scientific accuracy be matched. "Tobor the Great" (1954) featured the first intellegent robot as well as influential "Forbidden Planet" (1956) one of the most inovative SF as SF films. Of course, there isn't going to be any nice *linear* history as well. Several things to remember are: The way the film is written. Who's the target audience? What genre is it really? What "moral lesson" or story does it tell? Which studio was making it. How much budget was available? What stars? & Who wrote the script? How much control did the director have? What was their vision as both story teller and futurist (if at all)? For example, there are a whole slew of movies that were made by "American International" and the consistent theme is "Science is bad. Man will be punished for daring." Despite a few "placating words" to the contrary wise they were thinly veiled religious/moral tales decrying the age of science (usually as mis-read via the technology of the time). Thus, we get "Man With the X-Ray Eyes", "The Fly", "The Incredible Shrinking Man" - esp the last of which almost entirely losing the visionary ideas of the original story. Always a problem that (even outside of SF, as if we didn't know *that*). Oddly enough, at about the same time many of the classic "monster movies" were being made. And despite the *horriffic* nature of both sf, monster, and other films the actual "horror" film (blood and guts) hadn's really emerged - although "Man with the X-Ray Eyes" is certainly one of the goriest of the times. But, in many ways, the monster movies carried much of the gothic literature tradition forward. This is especially true of the Dracula movies where among other weapons against the vampires is a cross - or even the shadow of a cross. Another monster film well worth study is "The Body Snatcher" (1945) (no relation to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers") which comes closest to actually puting on the screen the philosophical ideas of Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" - whih other than an obscure Spanish language version has *yet* to be done). And while i'm on about it, i can't help but take yet another swipe at the ridiculously bad interpretations of Jules Verne's "Mysterious Island" - now in two extravagant colour films - both with MONSTERS!!! Regardless the examples of the moral ideas of good and bad, corruption by power, etc are far and few in SF. More modern works are also still, all too rarely exploring these possibilites - often only paying a single sentence to the ideas of the dichotomy between the promise of science and the possible plague of science. A recent exception is "Jurassic Park" (1993) (directed by Steven Spielberg, based on Michael Chriton's works). The theme is most clearly stated by "Ian Malcom" (played by Jeff Goldblum) - "Your scientists were so excited by the fact that they could, that they didn't stop to ask if they should." Which of course totally parallels Albert Einstein's regrets some 40 years after his seemingly "only a scientific curiosity" of relativity prompted him to say: It is not enough that you should understand about applied science in order that your work may increase man's. Concern for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors... in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations. Thus, one of the main functions of SF (outside of its often mis-used "scare" factor)is that of cautionary tale of technology. Unfortunatley, for the most part many films (since in order to make money they almost always have to devolve to the action/adventure prop to get the film made) rarely explore any of the moral dimensions and points of view explored in the SF (written) literature. It's as unlikely as not that there will never be another "2001" film made - even the "sequel", "2010: The Year we make contact" (1984) which was made with the blessings and help of Arthur C. Clarke (who had co-wrrient 2001 with director Stanley Kubrick) had the "action/adventure" which Clarke admitted was probably a necessity given the reality of spending so much money to make a film of that scope. Thus the ability of SF to make "statements" has almost inevitably fallen to TV series or films. First off the "small screen" can get by with cheaper effects, sets, and effects. It should be interesting to see how this will change with more and more "large screen tv's" and of course HD-TV. Also, since it is a more intimate medium it can thus concentrate more on story. Finally, with the success of J. Michael Strazinki's "Babylon Five" (which in turn inspired the Star Trek people to spin off "ST - Deep Space Nine") a clear path that the tried and true "story arc" concept can be used in TV series to enhance the over all story, the things that can be said (depth of concepts/characters/situations, complex topics and story lines, etc) -- all of which had been known for decades by the soap opera writers/producers/etc. That is: The viewer *can* actually follow more than a 30 minute plot! Thus, degree of character development that has gone into novels can finally be exsprssed in TV series, and (hopefully) with the success of the "Lord of The Rings" and "Harry Potter" films this might extend into films as well. Although, to be perfectly honest the efforts are *still* limited to the cost of production and effects. For example, compare "Batman" (1989) which used many back-lot locations (director Tim Burton had told the art and set people to think of "Hell as if it burst up thru the pavement and kept on growing" - not an exact quote) with the sets, effects, and such of SF films such as "Terminator 2: Day of Judgement" (1991). Part of the problem has become the expectation by "fans" of big lavish sets, lots of action adventure, etc. Even the relatively simple plot of "Paycheck" gave forth to an extravagent production. Compare this with the sets and production of "Imposter" and "Screamers" -- all three of which are based on short stories by SF master writer/futurist Philip K. Dick. Again, the BLURB is "bigger is better". And so we come back to the simple idea that much of the original lure of SF wer the ideas, possibilities, and limit-less-ness-es that it offered. Ideas such as "is the there life on other planets?", "what would life be link on those planets?", "what would they believe?", "what would they think of us?". etc. The possibiities of things like robots, rockets, space travel, travel under the sea, time travel, living forever, the end of the world, the colonisation of other planets, having a "fresh start" on a new world, etc, etc. And the idea that the "here and now" the "what we know" the "this is how it is", etc -- all could be just fragments of a much greater reality. One of my fav lines is from "Men in Black" by "K" (played by Tommy Lee Jones) when he says, 1000 years ago we KNEW the earth was flat, 500 years ago we KNEW the earth was the centre of the universe, 200 years ago we KNEW god created men, yesterday you KNEW we were alone in the universe, just think what you will know tomorrow. (thanks and three tips of the old towel to: -[]- (note that the bit about God was dropped from the film!) Thus, SF offers us not just escape but a total re-examination of everything we take for granted. And with that, (unless you want to read the "history" section below - when i get around to working on it....) We now present our feature films (ladies will kindly remove their hats)...

SF Film: Brief History, etc

need to research and have links here.... sort of a catalog if you will - hmmm, surely, Shirley, someone has already done this. From earth to moon International films?? Man facing southwest

2001: A Space Odyssey

See also: -[
Hal's Legacy]- (in sf-futurism) -[sf-fut: A/I entry]-

2010: The Year we make Contact

See especially: "2010 - A film Odyssey" by Arthur C. Clarke and Hyams. (details their conversations in the making of the film) In a way, 2010 provides in "closed form" the answers to what 2001 was all about. In this, we get nice clear answers (even up until the year 10_0000_001 or so), but in the original film we hardly know what to think of the Star Child - what is it thinking? It's well that Kubrick has it take no action - it just sits there in thought - a most private thought. Next, let's look at Dr. Floyd: He is out there to find answers, to asuage his feelings of guilt at having lost the mission under his direction. Compare this with the engineer who on the night of the Challenger Explosion called desparately to stop the launch (as desparately as Dr. McCoy tried to save the Chancelor in "ST: The Undiscovered Country". In fiction, the price for failure is punishment - in reality, the self-punishment of the engineer was to build a wall of bricks each night until exhausted. And then of course: "The Two Worlds" - or in mod speek: Left and Right Brain. The Russian Captain and the American Scientist (and all that command and creativity have hidden in their pockets - the atomic bomb, nazi war experiments on people, etc)... The Captain says, "Dr. Floyd you are not very practical" to which he responds, "Practical? Take a look out there (at the monolith) - that's not some piece of junk. Tell me what's practical? Again the confrontation between the perceived and known (such is the arrogance of thought and sense) vs "What the hell is that???" ask's Arthur Dent as the Vogon space ship cruises over head. The ration, reductive, linear, "proovable", etc. vs. the grasping at straws - it is the realisation that the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park" are real that makes Drs. Sadler (emotion) and (rationality) weak-kneed. The in-conpreshensibility that something so in-comprehensible CAN be perceived. Much of the maths of geniuses such as Ramajan and ??name?? is like that: One can hardly have been able to think up the formulas - let alone to see that they are actually true. In both cases, the proofs often came from other sources - again, the non-linear leaps of intuition (what is that thing?) and then the "showing" that it's actually true. In Larry Niven's "RingWorld", he allows the rationalists to come to the wrong conclusion. It is enough for them (like Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendesvous") to simply see that is possible - let alone to understand "How did you do this?". Doctor McCoy stands in awe with the new knowledge from the "Teacher" (machine) to say, "Of course: A child could do it." And here we are: Almost 2010 - and actually closer to the 2010 version of space and politics than the 2001 one. Some years back (while in corporate) a friend of mine from India (Sam Kumar) and i used to have lunch everyday together - and at the same Chinese restaurant (thus two pression questions: What do you want to eat? and Where should we eat? were by default taken care of. Among one of the points that we disagreed on was, my observation that some people seemed to lose their humanity; eg, the nazi's, or more other fascists, etc. He could't accept that - in fact he would say it was non-sense. Such were our few differences (many actually) in viewing the world - and more importantly: Our fellow passengers on SpaceShip Earth. Later i decided on the idea: People can turn their humanity off. We now know that in some cases they can lose their humanity; eg, thru brain injury or extreme conditioning/events. But, it is the apparent only - and possibly quite deeply) recovery of that humanity that interests us here. Namely the victims of (eg) the Holocaust or other such disasters/dis-connects when they DO re-gain their humanity. Refer to: "Soldiers and Slaves" (the American GI's who were sent to the work camp in the last ditch effort). The point here is: The prisoners who had already been thru the singling out, internment and then (eg) Buchenwald, etc - survived much more than the much healthier GI's who hadn't been thru those experiences. The mind (as the author and many of the survivors said) determined more than anything else the probability of survival. Of course, this isn't to say that a single bullet or action couldn't end someone's life, but that giving up. Indeed the sustaining hatred was the most prominant factor - not even hope (again that small word) or "looking forward" to "real life" again. So, the question is the question is this: What is it that sustains David Bowman? --42--


sf-fut: A/I entry]- {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only)

Andromeda Strain

This was an early work by the man who was to give us "Jurassic Park" and other such films. This is probably the "hardest" science sf work that Criton ??sp?? has produced; there is actually a NOVA science show about "could Jurassic Park" be real? -- which is enough to say about anything. So: Could Scotty's Transporter be real????? (i think that ??author?? in "Goedel, Escher, Bach" has answered that sufficiently - or not, depending on your view of "clones"; see, the ??name?? in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine series where he (a clone) keeps getting killed, but then the factory just sends out a new one with the previous nights "save and exit" data in it) -- along that same thing: "Earth Mark II" in "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy", etc. Regardless, and probably at high cost the original film still stands well and being acted by non-sf actors helps. Dr. ??Ruth?? ??name?? made a "sequel like" film ??title?? that went further in exploring contagion in general - especially the idea that by using antibiotics indiscrimanently we can produce "super bacteria" that are immune to them - which was a v. new idea at the time. Again, a good film with a disturbing/thought-full ending (more along the lines of {
FailSafe} than anything else. Next: BladeRunner. {Back to the TOP of this page}


Two things (that have been said a million times) you have to consider BladeRunner as "inspired by", but not based on: "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep". As well, as Riddly Scott (good/bad/indifferent) people on the set actually wore t-shirts saying: "I no longer fear hell; i've worked for Riddly Scott" In the sequence of things, this was a bold move (since 2001 and much earlier "Destination Moon") to seek out an ACTUAL sf author as the basis for a film. Every aspect of the film adheres superbly to the Clarke-Hyams law of sf film adaptation: To make a film that can be marketed (despite exhorbitantly high production costs) - some artistic sacrifices will have to be made. In viewing the film in terms of "purity" against "Do Androids...", the "saving moment" is when ??name?? (played by ??author??) becomes human at that last moment. Worst adaptation: Taking "Lubba Luft" ??name?? as the opera star that "Rick" loves and admires (only to find out that she is a replicant) and turn her into the stripper. Man, have you NO shame??? Also, self-doubts are barely hinted at in the film - but, then that was restored in the "Director's Cut". I mean can you imagine having to have HAL talking to himself or some other innane voice over explaining what "2001" *means* ???? The one quirk is of course: "The brighter the flame, the shorter that it can burn" as metaphore that ??name?? as a Nexus 6 will expire as directed - because of the DESIGN ITSELF and yet this is negated for the sake of the HAPPY ENDING. And i won't even comment, on the happy ending as compared to the ending in "Do Androids..." where "Rick" receives salvation (or is it like the androids maintain a pure fiction???) but loses himself. Hard to bring that kind of "text" into a pure film form - well, unless you lose the voice over and leave the audience (some almost angrily) leaving the theatre saying, "Now, what was THAT all about??" as in 2001. Next:
Imposter. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only)


This is probably (other than arguably "Screamer") rendered (ie, "translated from text to film) of all of Phil's work. The most beautiful part is the "hope" installment when the underground ??name?? (??actor??) sees that ??name?? etc was in fact a replicant and answers the question: So, is that true? with: Whatever he is/was there was some good in him. Of course, this goes back to one of the most common of Dick's themes: The self-discovery of the replicant that he IS a replicant. This is explored in ??title?? where a robot find out that he has a little punched-tape in his body and begins experimenting by punching new holes in it (suddenly a flock of birds flies through the room) and covering up holes. But, it is this "oh. that's why i'm different" self discovery (like the pronouncement of "schizophrenia" -- see "A Brilliant Mind" or "cancer", etc) can have on a person. But, of course, this IS the self - the one thing (western-thinking-wise) we are told that we ARE. Oddly enough that idea "Well if i am, then of course i am!" might not be true is the primary anti-pode of Buddhism - or at least in the "denial of self". But, if there is no self, then how can i deny it? (trickster questions on a tuesdae) Too bad we can't view things as more a matter of chanse than "destiny" and such. After all, Ford Prefect responds, to "What do you mean?" with "I don't mean anything. I just am." Or of course, as one of our greatest philosopher characters, Popeye the Sailor sez, I am what i yam, and that's all that i yam. The most interesting (and of course intriguing) part of the film are the scenes during the final credits. I'm not sure that we can dismiss this as the equivalent of "mental masturbation". It's almost as if in the world of self-aware chess (not personified where people represent the pieces on a board), that white exists only for black and black only exists for white. And that black must always be in a state of readiness for white to make the first move. And like (the gunslinger who draws first - often loses; see, Neils Bohr's ideas on this) the pressure is on White to act. Despite all of then, White almost always makes the same move. And then Black responds in the same way - but, now the "call to action", "the game's affoot", to act is to be, etc.... To assert the truth that ??name?? is NOT the imposter is only to find that he is - or is he? Of course, this goes to the ideas of paranoia nesting thinking anyway. And of course, no we wait for something like (as explored in "Time Bandits") that the imposter is in fact the real, and that the real is the not the imposter at all, but God. endless chains here.... Also, refer to the "Beta Unit" in {
"The Last StarFighter"}. Next: Minority Report. {Back to the TOP of this page}

Minority Report

Agaain, based on of Dick's short stories, Minority Report dwells on the paradoxical idea of a "future fact" - in this case, a person committing murder. The beauty of the film is in the rendering of the future world: Spielberg at his best. Since the oiginal story (as with much of Phil's work) does not detail out anywhere the detail that we get from more modern writers; eg, Charles Dickens. We have to recall that for the most part Phil was up against the wall as far as eeking out a living; esp writing sf. Thus, the expansion of the idea of future paradox is expanded into one of the best renderings of Phil's big-brother-pchycho-technic paranoid world of the future. Rivaled only by "BladeRunner". Of course what was good for an intellectual short-story (the nature of the paradox in the story is that ONLY a future-crime memeber) would have the ability to avoid a future "fact". To bring the story to the silver screen, the idea here-in explored is about the concept of free-will rather than pre-destination. In a sense the film "lets us down" since it makes the idea plausible that the system isn't fool proof. And thus, undercuts the main concept of the original story. In a way, that's only natural since this IS a short story (and hence not intended to explore the idea of pre-destination even to a major extent; eg, as in "The Galactic Pot Healer"). An interesting note is that in "Galactic Pot Healer", part of the idea is that pre-desitination is at least partly a political/power ploy by the writers of the book. Thus, by predicting the future and having their reputation established they actually enforce the future to be believed in and thus happen. Of course, part of this goes back to parts of the book that contradict other parts - thus, in keeping in the many worlds view of reality. Borges explored this as well many times and the idea is hinted at in "The Book of Sand". Aside from that detour, the film works well as a standard "power struggle" film in the nature of {
"The Net"}. One of the best elements is the idea of "future knowledge driving an in-the-present person" slightly bonkers; which is of course part and parcel in "Martian Time Slip" (more on schizophrenia than dualism) and especially in "The World that Jones Made". This is brought out beautifully by THE THREE clarivoyants and their "Mother" who details the ideas of the minority report itself: "Which one? Why the stongest of the three: The female." This if of course brings that character to life - and the "balloons and umbrella" scene mirros other "in plain sight" paradoxes in the chase scene; eg, the "basket kidnapping of Indy's love interest" in "Indiana Jones I". In this case, the work is much smoother and works well into the central core of clairvoyance - esp as she tells one woman: "He knows." - in keeping with the "crimes of passion" theme established early on. The ending actually is much neater in that the cause of the singularity () finds the only way out of the paradox is to save the system by destroying the source of the singularity itself. Oddly enough, this could have been (very subtly) worked into the film for a second viewing but isn't. In an episode of Star Trek, Commander Data reaches the same conclusion: That to save life, he must destroy it. Unlike films such as "Butterfly Effect", this idea of self-sacrifice and hence time-line change isn't explored. Which is in keeping with the original thesis of the story that it isn't a paradox, but information about the future made available to someone who has control of the source of that "worm hole". To date, only {"Cyborg 2087"} and {"Butterfly Effect"} successfully explore the altered time line in films effectively; possibly, due to the "paradox" being so familiar that it can only be handled tongue-in-cheek or at least as a sub-element of cause and effect in the strong sense; eg, notably in {"Back to the Future"}, {"Sliding Doors"}, etc. Next: Screamers. {Back to the TOP of this page}



Of course to say that Phil's works are *enticing* goes *without* saying, can *any* film (or more properly, can any film-maker) *ever* do justice to his work? Well, maybe not. But i would say that Screamers is probably the exception that proves the rule: A superb adaptation of not only look and feel, but content, narrative, and ideas from the short story. The least effective film would have to be "Total Recall"; the idea that at the end of the STORY the world-within-a-world becomes apparent is totally abandoned for the same sickly-sweet ending as given in "Alien Resurrection". (were they having some bargain close-out on sacrine endings?) The only film (so far in the universe of discourse, locally speaking) to handle the ending of "We can remember it for you wholesale?" is the superbly original
"Brazil". If you wanted to see how to turn a text (short story) into a successful "translation" into film -- then this would def be one of the case studies. The set work is extensensive and imaginative (as it must always be with Phil's work - et tu, Dvorak?). When you are writing by the word and anything less than zamm, whoom bam will NOT get a return request for more work -- then you can not be Dickens. Would that we could. It would be nice if "somehow" we could get the behind the scenes look at Phil's input (if any - so what is it: Directors just want the idea now go away - you're just the author) on "BladeRunner". Not since 2001 at that time had a "large scale, serious" SciFi movie been attempted. And of course, Philip K. Dick was one of the acknowledged masters. Notable are of course "2001" (Clarke) and "Destination Moon" (Heinlein). Later, PBS actually footed the bill for "The Lathe of Heaven" (Le Guinn). All of which were inspired by the "Star Wars" technology that made films a lot more affordable. And of course, with blue screen (eg, "The Last Star Fighter" and previously "Tron") then we have the problem at the other limit: How can you "act" when you're talking to a tennis ball on a stick??? Regardless, one can see the "terse and down" feel of "Alien" in the film which suits perfectly the idea of the hopeless war that has now esculated far beyond the mere humans that started it. That is, now the machines are fighting each other for dominance and man has become the "rats in the sewer" - well, sort of. In terms of Phil's work (rather than my own) it goes back to the disposesed "Japanese Optical Workers" (who we know turned out to be the half blinded Mexican Optical Workers), as well as other whose "job rating" was OBSOLETE; (ref to: Twilight Zone episode with Burgest Merideth ??episode?? ??link??)

I, Robot

A quite adeuqtely made adaptaptaion of Asimov's robot stories. Despite adaptation to the "action adventure" format, it preserves some of the philosophical aspects of Asimov's queries in his stories. Unfortnately, it doesn't explore the possible "problems" that the classic "3 laws" created and which Asimove exploited to tell simply "good stories" that happen to be SciFi. The film is also notable in that it explores some aspects of cyborg implants in a much more realistic and intriguing manner than the "Borg" in StarTrek. Only in the episode "I, Borg" does Star Trek (TNG) dip into the grey area of self vs collective. And the nice touch that: The technology that saved me killed someone else - and yet, i am sworn to "take a bullet" for the innocent. We see that this beautifully upgrades the "programmed response" by "Murphy" in {

Jason and the Argonauts

(technically a fantasy/mythology film) See especially: Von Gunden, "Flights of Fancy", Pp. ??-??.

Jurassic Park

Again in the ation/adventure format, the film very forcefully confronts the central aspects of the morality and abuse of technology. This is followed up in two excellent sequels that explore the concept further. It is a credit to Spielberg that the very humanistic POV is taken towards the dinosaurs and their right to exist outside of a "packaged, slapped on a lunch box" commodity. All of the actors invovled are clearly "on board" with this interpretation. Damit - i guess i'll have to read the novels, yuh think?


(The planet Kpax in the constellation Lyra) Seems v. related to: "Hombre mirando al sudeste" (1986) -[
IMDB: The Man Facing Southeast]- Wr/Dir by: Eliseo Subiela "K-Pax" directed by Iain Softley; Writers (WGA):Gene Brewer (novel) and Charles Leavitt (screenplay). -[IMDB: K-PAX]- (note the capital letters) -[WWW:]- google: "man facing southeast" "k-pax" -[Law suit (2001.11.30)]- Even a brief viewing of the newer film makes one wonder why they weren't successfully sued for plagerism. The original film contains a much less surrly and cynical POV that gives it tremendous charm. The newer film (if viewed thru rose-coloured new-age glasses) provides a fresh view of eschewing the material. But, since it seeks to self-validate itself, it is (for what reason?) forced to provide evidence that the KPAC (the alien) is in fact a self-deluded mental patient. This idea is left "in metaphysical doubt" in the original film. Thus, giving it superb charm as does the INDY film "Englightenment". -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]- -[]-

The Last StarFighter"

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Contact. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: Contact. {Back to the TOP of this page}


I'll skip the amenities here, saying only that this is one of my favorite movies of all time (and of course with that tet'a'tet between Jody Foster and James Wood -- film just doesn't get any better than that!). Regardless, i will concentrate on the under-laying concept of *CONTACT* itself. My gentle contribution to the field is contained (nicely so, i rather like to think) in the story: [
Return to Sender] [The Contact Lingo Problem]

Fantastic Voyage

Farenheit 451

See also: -[
Absurd Discussion of 451 in LIT]- Next: Day the Earth Stood Still {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only)

Day the Earth Stood Still

Despite its preachy cold-war undercurrents (hmmm, perhaps adapt it to global terrorists?), this is again a classic "well made" sf film. At the time, if fit perfectly with the "Atom Bomb Secrets", "Red Scare", and other period paranoia. Based on the short story, "Return of the Master" by ??author??, it presents in a fairly straight forward one of the best "alien visits earth and is appauled" messages -- unlike many of the "monster pictures" of the time. See "Cyborg, 2087" below. Notable are the presence of black people as ordinary citizens - emphaisizing the return of black vetrans and the beginning of re-orienting our world view in "Reagan's America". If ever there was ever a film that seemed "left-leaning" (ie, read as "pro-Soviet") this is it. But, again with the presence of "Dr. Barhardt" (Sam Jaffey - who btw, taught maths at Analpolis during the war; so the equations for calculus of variations are almost certainly correct) -- perceptably "Dr. Einstein" -- it brings across the idea: Learn to co-exist or perish. Note also, the care in skirting any matters theistic - even aliens believe in the Almighty Spirit. Thus, science is not god - where's Dr. Strangelove when you need him?

Cyborg 2087"

Cyborg 2087 was made "slightly" as a sequel to Day the Earth Stood still but presents the idea of telepathic mind control via "radio telepathy". It's handling of the time-line is one of the best ever (I have often suspected that the author "Arthur C. Pierce" was in fact Clarke - hmmm). Traveling from the future a cyborg (played by Michael Rennie) returns to the present to prevent the experiment that will make creatures like him (and an oppressive future) possible. The film (although in colour) is in the rich tradition of the b-scifi films complete with "hep cat" music and beat-nick-like (much more gentrified) characters. Well edited, and using many night scenes (to save costs) it shows that good sf doesn't have to cost an arm a leg. Most of the props look like the hundred million other "computer lab" scenes - but it doesn't matter since the story line of "radio telepathy" is so strong and such. The ending, is almost totally anti-Dr.StrangeLove/The Net - but the message being altruistic and cautionary.... All things aside, the film continues the essentially one big happy world ideas of "Day the Earth Stood Still". By today's "action packed" standards, the plot is fairly thin and as i mentioned before the ending (unrealistic in the days of "The Net" or "Dr. Strangelove") re-iterates the "scientists must be responsible for the results of their research message of "Day the Earth". Next: Dr. Strangelove.

Dr. StrangeLove

Other than Brasil, the future has never been so sarcastically portrayed. The film is marred that by its similarity to "FailSafe" (see below) that Columbia prevented that ] picture from being shown first. Also, note that one of Philip K. Dick's novels "Dr. BloodMoney" was given the subtitle "How i learned to stop worrying and survive AFTER the bomb" to tie it in to the film's success. Dr. Strangelove was probably a composite of Edward Teller ("But, Oppie [Openheimer], i can get 100 times the destruction with the super!"; ie, the H-bomb) and possibly of course other ex-nazi scientists now on "the right side". Note that this idea is brilliantly portrayed in the film adaptation of Leonard Wibberyly's "Mouse on the Moon" where-in the rocket designs, concern/conversations, and even manerisms of the Soviet and USA space efforts are identically mirrored by ostensibly ex-nazi space scientists. Regardless, the film is rather mediocre - even though brilliantly conceieved and executed: When compared to the other two "the day after" films: FailSafe and On the Beach THis is to detract nothing from the film - just timing.


Probably the best depiction of cold-war MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) and the mind set that it encombered. There are (arguably) one-to-one correspondences between each character in the film and REAL people in the world at the time. Also, note that Henry Fonda as THE president was unusual - since in almost all cases prior to that the president wasn't shown unless it was to quote an actual speach, etc. - eg, "Yankee Doodle Dandy - The George Cohen Story". And of course "JR Ewing" here for the first time in a superbly acted role as "translator". Also, note the realistic dialog and portray of racial issues (v. subtle).

On the Beach

Another case of bad timing. This film is a cautionary tale of "the day after" leading to "the end of the world" via atomic war. Superbly created the film makers were sued (and counter-sued in term, as i recall) between Dr. StrangeLove and Fail Safe. Even though they are clearly different stories - many people thinking about the same problem came up with similar "views" of what it would be like if we (as in all us human type beings) are at the brink of atomic war. The tone creates very well the "with a whimper" tone of the book. Only in recent times have sf films at least tried to follow the form of the author.

Alas, Babylon

This is probably the first and only accurate portrayal in a post atomic war. To avoid the "On the Beach" hopelessness, the author takes the "just this little island of serenity" approach. Which was part of the under-current of On the Beach, but in this case the spark of hope and only partial destruction (similar in outlook to "Andromeda Strain") are used as the primary text. The issues of being in the city vs being in the country, fallout, lawlessness, etc are all brilliantly detailed. far as i know, this book hasn't been made into a film; hmmmm.. Next: Ghost World. {
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Ghost World

(see notes as to why i include this in the section Harry Potter, below) Who am I? My name is Enid. What am I? (my dirary is art; i am an artist, but i do not realise it) What am I to do? (i do not fit in; after a while i think that i have chosen to *not* fit in; in reality, i perceive the "dark segment" and realise and perceive the absurdity of the world, and yet everyone else (mostly) clamors and clamours for more and more rice pudding -- never realising that the "unclaimed ingot" exists only in the afternoon cafe of the mind. How do i begin to become? Norman knows that what appears to be death is an escape -- to leave everything behind is to escape to the edge of the cliff (he alone has the courage to step off the edge and then how??? he does not fall! He is gone -- surely this is death! I can not! I can not! I pack my case and in the other reality of myself i pass the cafe (not of the mind) and think: You have become a beautiful young woman towards my friend -- and wonder if she or i is the greater fool. I sit, and wait. Godot does not come; instead he sends a bus. Into the vastness of space i go, wondering what will happend when it comes. I'm afraid, Norman. I'm afraid. Now, it is here: the vastness of the noise and light! Here comes the explosio...


restored original japanese release of Gojira]-
See also: -[
Ulward's Retreat]- by Jack Vance (how the pseudo reality of the projected "window" can be irritating at times) See also: -[Matrix as Metaphore]- -[Computation, Turing Machines and "The Matrix"]- -[Matrix Forum]- (via -[Q/T (internal view)]- (Quantum Thinking/Quantum Consciousness) site: In this section: {} {} {} {Chars} {} {Stuff} A start at a compendium {} {} {} {} {} {} {Studies (lit & other works from the internet, etc)} {} {} {Refs} {Links} {

Matrix: Chars

In this sub-section: {
The Heroes} {Agent Smith} {The Oracle} {The Architect} {Neo} {Trinity} {Morpheus} {} {

The Heroes


Agent Smith - Illusion, Content, and Self

Oddly enough "Cypher" () knows the reality of the matrix and wants out - and has that choice: "I want to wake up and not even know; and to be somebody famous, like a pop star." (not an exact quote) Now we arrives at the faceless (and yet infinitely-faced and infinitely mirrored (esp in Matrix II) "Agent Smith" (Hugo Weaving). His digust at having to "dip back in" to "the world of discourse" (ie, the Matrix) is intnese: THe machine perfected, but forced to "fix the plumbing" -- to be brought so intimately in contact with its (its = the matrix as self) NEED for the humans as energy sources. And (apparently) there is no escape for Smith - he needs the key to Zion to get things running properly again. Note that this is also to erase its physical need to get back into the mucky, organic plumbing "down there". Talk about Freudian problems (!) hmmm, ... Nopt that the matrix-nexus character (The Architect) rises above this. And whle Smith *only* (we presume) thge problem, the matrix-nexus (like the Borg Queen in Star Trek, The Grand King in Well's "First Men in the Moon", and Mustapha Mond in Huxley's "Brave New World")*rises* above it to the transcendent level. That is: Smith is CONSC IOUS and self-aware and indeed imersed in the "real reality" while the matrix-nexus rises outside of ANY single matrix cycle or element of life-death-life-... (Buddhism) or something like cycle-change-vars-cycle, etc. And thus sees the "whole of infinite possibilities" mainly i waould assert in the inifinite possibilites of CHOICE and its consequences. {

The Oracle


The Architect








A start at a compendium In this sub-section: {
} {} {Inidividuality} {Metaphor - search for values} {The Participative Element} {} {Access to Resources} {The Transformative Element in the Mx} {}

Metaphor - search for values

Matrix as Metaphore]-

The Transformative Element in the Mx

Part of this goes back to "using" the Mx to survive; eg, becoming a "trekie" (one of the least matrix-like aspects of the Matrix)esapes, sports, etc. Since the mx can be a shared experience, it can lead to clubs, gangs, meets, etc. Again, a tiered structure


LIT & other works from the internet, etc)
} From www: See also: -[www:]- -[Study Guide (journey of the hero]- -[(local copy)]- -[]- -[]-

Matrix: Refs

Matrix: Links

Next: Momento. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only)

I, Robot

a beautiful blend of not only Asimov's ideas (the three laws are generally attributed to Asimov/Campbell) as well as Asimov's SF mystery series with R. Danieel. The screen play was written by Jeff Vintar (who also gave us the superb screen play for "Final Fantasy !) Of all screen adaptations of pop sf (was Philip K. Dick *ever* popular?) this ranks closest in "target" to Dick's "Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep" - which (so sue me) i still think falls far short - at least the most recent works are using short stories to make a 120-minute "film". Regardless, the story within a story is based on not only the general series, but a particular story in which the famous 3 laws are "weakened". ??title?? -- dadrat my old memory circuits!!! Next: Momento. {
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Pi. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: Pi. {Back to the TOP of this page}


Contact. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: Brazil. {Back to the TOP of this page}


Contact. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: Brazil. {Back to the TOP of this page}


Contact. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: Brazil. {Back to the TOP of this page}


Contact. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: Contact. {Back to the TOP of this page}


Based on the SciFi novel of the same name by Carl Sagan, the film quickly slips into a metaphysical debate over perceived vs believed reality. Based on hard SETI science and speculation, one of the main protagontists (Dr. Arroway), ostensibly an aethiest seeks to make contect with ET. This finally comes in a massive data download that describes how to build a worm-hole-based space conveyor. This is built, and despite opposition by Christian fundamentalists (who blow up the first system) Dr. Arroway makes the mind-blowing journey between the stars to find an entire network of worm-hole-based inter-stellar "tubes". However, when she returns she is confronted that other than her own experience, she has no "proof" that she has in fact traveled anywhere. This parallels the love interest with a new-age priest (the love interest) who had confronted her with the idea of "belief" being as real as "proof". The novel explores an essentially different idea of a deistic view that the universe was designed. The fact that such proof is buried somewhere in the billionth digits of pi is bizare to say the least. It is clear that the film tries to portray the parallel between revealed religious experience/knowledge and scientific "proof". The film is marred by several philosphical weaknesses, despite its great beauty and cerebral content. COmpared to 2001, both the film and novel seem to be some sort of wishy-washy wish-ful thinking about contacting SETI. As Clarke has observed, more likely than not we will find protozas and gods - but no men; ie, at the same level of techno DEV as us. Next: zzz. {
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Next: Power Rangers. {
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Power Rangers

See also: [
Morphing] (A/H term) A thought occurs to me: 1. The original power rangers was made in japanese actors. 2. The film was re-shot using american actors and the original (suited actors) sequenes were used as is with re-dubbed (american) voices. Why couldn't this be done for EVERY kind of person/language/culture. For all we know there are wookies in those (transformed) suits!! Or ewoks, or sponge creatures, intellegent funguses (as one of the hero's in Philip K. Dick's "The Clans of the Alphane Moon") -[here]- Next: Pan's Labyrinth {Back to the TOP of this page}

Pan's Labyrinth

(actual title: El laberinto del fauno) English sub-titles by the director. -[
imdb: Pan's Labyrinth -[ -[ -[ -[ Next: RoboCop {Back to the TOP of this page}


imdb -[
-[ -[ -[ RoboCop presents a near-future distopic view of law-enforcement centred around "New Detroit" the soon to be re-vitalised "Detroit of the Future". Primarily, the concept of technological futures of law-enforcement are given by two diametrically opposed views: Ed-209 - mil-std-spec enforcement droid along the lines of a "not quite working" Gort character. In fact, in keeping with the sardonic view of the problems of "keeping order", it presents itself as more of a "3-stooges meet corporate america". In this case the ED-209 despite a few glitches is cynically seen as a bottomless source of funding for upgrades, and applications not just in domestic/civilian theatres, but the idea of the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) is clearly brought in as well. Juxtaposed against this is: RoboCop - a cyborg gone-zombily-bad. In this case a policeman "Murphy" played almost per fectly by Peter Weller (see "Contaigon" for his best work as an actor in the Sf genere; below). Who has all but lost his life in a drug bust gone bad (where have we heard that before?) is resurrected as a zombified human that is pretty much a drone with super-human strength. In both cases, the cynical corporate view is that we are all just drones, and when we sign on for the job, we give up any real choices in our life. The plot reaches its zenith when the regular police forece in "Old Detroit" go on strike, and thus forcing the hand of the ED-209 group (already corrupt and dealing out favours to drug lords, etc) to eliminate its only real competition: RoboCop. The end breaks free of the Frankenstein paradox in that de-personified "Murphy" regains his identity and "saves the day". Of course, this means that the "happy ending" within a film that is mostly action/adventure doesn't leave much time for self introspection. The "saved" moment between "Murphy" and "Lewis" is in Weller's line: I feel them, but i don't remember them. An entire film could be made out of that - as of course has been done in much of sf: The protector who has no actual feelings for "us" but protects us, because that is what it is programmed to do. Duty above honor or emotion.


This is a well made film - especially the writing and acting (if Weller's character would just get a kleenex!) - somebody should have tightened that bit of the film. The pathos between ??name?? ??actor?? as the HazMat scientist and ??name?? (Peter Weller) as the "plague man", is nothing short of brilliant: Set, camera, acting, etc. The timing is a bit drawn out at the last (and doesn't work logically), but the happy end that is in fact a "retaliation" to those that caused this mess makes up for it. ??actor?? as ??name?? (the HazMat operative) could not be better done. Also, the fact that this is set in Europe and thus as "under-story" the nazi era makes it even more poignant. It's too bad this film is so obscure, since it does a much better job than such over-priced (but well intentioned) films as "Cassandra Crossing" - sometimes having too much money loses something in the editing and story work. Next: s1mOnel. {Back to the TOP of this page}


sf-fut: A/I entry]- Ref pages: -[]- Wr/Dir by Andrew Niccol.

War Games

sf-fut: A/I entry]- Produced during the Reagen-era paranoia of nuclear war "just around the corner" is placed front and centre with the decision to take the "man out of the loop" in the nuclear deterent silos and the well-known "two man failsafe" system. Parallel to this, is a yound hacker teenager trying to find a back-door into what he thinks is a game company's latest product but is in fact a back-door into THE American nuclear defence system. The hacker accidentally activates a HAL-like persona left in the system by the peace-loving original designer. The persona "Joshua" takes to task to actually win the war by forcing the clueless humans at NORAD to step up the war status to the point where Joshua can launch the missels and "win" the game of "Global Thermo-nuclear War". In a "lessons lost/learned" turn around, the hacker with the help of the original programmer force Joshua to learn that: "The only winnging move is not to play. How about a nice game of Chess?"


Concepts of alternate raltiies -- reltaed again to the aesthetic experience as changing in time. See also: [
] (H. Hobson) Next: Zardoz. {Back to the TOP of this page} NOTES (this section only) Next: Zardoz. {Back to the TOP of this page}


[again from ???, Pp. 206. [in the Vortex room, when Connery's character (Zed) has been "captured"] (ellisions are in the original text) BEGIN BLOCK QUOTE ... [some of the elders] want him destroyed, while another ... insists that he should be studied for a while. During the contest that follows, Zed acquires an enclopaedic knowledge of the Vortex and its purpose, confronts the forces that enclose it, and restores to its delighted, centuries-old inhabitants the ability to remain dead when they die. The process of evolution is released once more, and the natural history of man can resume it's course. [LOCAL foot note: This same theme is treated far less interestingly and at much higher cost by the diffuse and more recent *Logan's Run* (Anderson, ??author?? ,1976). ] ... (elision mine)
The "visual collage" of print in Zardoz makes language (and its components) concretely physical, colourful, and kinetic. It also simultaneously emphasises the inherent abstracness of language by physicalising it, by giving it visual substance in an abstract design. Becoming an integral part of the total scren image in *Zardoz*, language as image comes to have a concrete being and loses, therefore, much of its paricularised meaning. Our response as viewers is to wonder at the transformation, to delight in letters and numbers and words sliding over the curves of a human body in a caresss composed of colour and light. The way in which the SF film uniquely utilises language as image certainly neeeds further exploration -- as do our responses to these images. Literally "reading" the screen is a strange cinematic experience when, as viewers our act of reading is made self-conscious. [Z Note 1] Obviously, we read all screen images in some fashion, but to read them as we would read print in a book [Note 2] [Jump to Collage] (art history term) thrusts us into a new stance, gives us a new perception [Great Zarquon's Goat! Doesn't *anyone* ever give art design credits to movies!! Now, i have to go but the photin' thing and actually watch it. Mr. Rains may well have been right] of letters and numbers as visual entities which exist independent of their meaning. [ 3 ] END BLOCK QUOTE NOTES (this section only) [1] On thinking about the ways that the reading can be made self conscious would be the very obvious scene where one of the elders (eg) tells the protagonist: DON'T LOOK AT THE SCREEN, and then we see in a pull-back shot that that the hero IS looking at the screen and that we along with her/him/neth are reading the text and looking at the images as well. The montage can then be expanded to different parts of the screen in over flowing and sections that as emerge and disperse bring different meanings to the TEXT. This idea brilliantly realised in the theis work of Micahel ?krause? ??name?? at the University of Dallas using projectors, and reflected words on the top of water tanks. An osciallating fan would then stir up the water making it LESS reflective and those words projected by reflection would shimmer and disappear. The othe words projected directly onto the viewing surface (often made of a translucent material hung in the walk path so that it could be viewed from either side). When the words were all in focus, the image projected a king of interesting (but rather banal) "poem", when the fan interrupted the waves, the message that was visible was: And you still don't know who i am. -- absolutely stunning! This (like so much of pop, ab ex, and op art NEEDS (indeed MUST) be explored in association with not only film, but installation and partcipatory (happening) art as well. Refer to: [Will Insley's ESSAY!Back to the TEXT} [2] This point is excellently made in the movie *Sneakers* where during the middle of a scrabble game one of the players realises that the name "Seatec Astronomy" is not what it appears. He (Redford's character "Bish") clears the letters off the scrabble board and they start to re-arrange the letters until they reveal what it *really* stands for. The camera closes to their faces, and then scans along the letters, revealing little by little what they spells t o o m a n y s e c r e t s (hope that works!) btw: i refer to the above way that you had to (hopefully) scroll the view thingie left to right as COERCED PERFORMANCES [Link here] {Back to the TEXT} [3] Again this brought out brilliantly in the movie *Wargames* as LAUNCH CODES are flashed up on the screen, and then seen reflected off of the computer science who helped to create the computer that is about use those codes to start world war II (don't worry, no real world was harmed in the making of this picture ;) Thus, text (or in this case RANDOM codes have meaning to us because we know that they are more than what they appear. This goes back to whether or not we can *ever* escape meaning. The nonsense song "Daisy" that HAL sings *means* to us that he is literally losing his mind -- contrast this with the malevelent intent that he had just before that "this mission is too important to let you jeopardise it" (thus saying, if i have to kill you, i will). Thus, the use of random and non-sensical words or patterns of numbers would still have some meaning. But, the art concept that Shemoigan ??name?? says *is* very valid: Can we create a PURE abstract thing with letters or numbers that won't literally be read, but enjoyed as abstract things. Obviously if we used (for eg) the Kuffic ?sp? script as a calligraphic form of design (in much the same way that much of the arabic geometric decorations are meant to be abstractions from the real/physical world), then if we (as viewers) did *not* know that script it would appear very abstract indeed. -- alas, i must be off to story lab, more later (hopefully -- still haven't decided yet) {Back to the TEXT} [4] {Back to the TEXT} [5] {Back to the TEXT} [6] {Back to the TEXT}


Aldiss, Brian W. (1973). Billion Year Spree - The True History of Science Fiction. Von Gunden, Kenneth (1989). Flights of fancy : the great fantasy films. DD# 016.79143 V946F 1989 Von Gunden, Kenneth (1991). Postmodern auteurs : Coppola, Lucas, De Palma, Spielberg, and Scorsese. DD# 791.43 V946P


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