Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sci-Fi French Films & Immortality

In the last week I’ve watched two French sci-fi films, both using a combination of CGI and graphic art techniques. The films were delivered to my doorstep, one after the other, courtesy of Lovefilm.com (which I joined as soon as I realised Blockbuster was woefully inadequate if you’re any sort of cinephile). What’s interesting about this is that I have absolutely no recollection of having put these films in my cart at Lovefilm.com. At the time, I was wondering at the lack of any good sci-fi films, which goes to show that sometimes synchronicity does work!

Immortal Plot Summary:
New York 2095. In a strange pyramid floating in the sky, the gods of ancient Egypt are judging Horus. In the city, a young woman with blue hair and tears is arrested, but she has a secret power, even to herself...

Immortal was filmed with real actors in a ‘digital backlot’ and is visually stunning. The idea is intriguing – Horus tried to enter the body of a ‘clean’ human in order to pro-create before he is sentenced to ‘death’ for rebellion. The body he possesses is that of a prisoner, Nikopol, accidentally released from his 30-year sentence of suspended animation. Nikopol/Horus immediately sets out to find the mysterious woman with blue hair - and blue tears that permanently stain - who has been hired as a test subject by a conglomerate investigating immortality.

Read more here.

Renaissance Plot Summary:
Paris, 2054. Cyncial cop Karas sets out to look for young scientist Illona, whose sudden disappearance may be linked to her top-secret work on premature aging. Her boss, Dellenbach, owner of a large cosmetic conglomerate, wants his researcher back, as does Ilona’s fiercely protective sister Bislane. Karas sets out to look for Ilona, but finds no help from her mentor, Dr Jonas Muller, so he asks for help from Farfella, a gangster.

The movie looks like a black-and-white graphic novel, probably reflecting the noir aspects of the film. I was geek enough to watch the special features where the director reveals that all the pictures were done in black and white, with no shades of grey. I started off being fascinated by the brilliant use of white, but after a while its monochromatic nature became a bit wearying.

Read more here.

Why do I even mention these movies? Because, theme-wise, I wanted to see something different. Instead, I got more of the same. Although visually unique, the plots seriously lacked in originally as there were countless similarities to Blade Runner and The Fifth Element in both plot and style.

Lately I’ve been wondering why the theme of immortality has caught our cultural awareness, reflected by the popularity of genres such as urban fantasy and paranormals with their wealth of vampires and weres. While these take immortality for granted – part of the background setting, as it were – it’s cultural, social and scientific impact only seems to be seriously explored in science fiction.

Yet I’m still left with the feeling that...well, is that all? Is immortality the only theme that possesses the sense of awe and grandeur that we want from our science fiction? Is it lack of originality or just a sign of the times? And are we really that obsessed with living forever?

The other question it raises is whether there is any room for this sort of exploration in genre romance? My gut instinct is to say no - unless it is SF with romantic elements. What do you think?

3 comments:

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Interesting post, Cassandra. Immortality seems to be a big trend in romance. I think with paranormals being so popular, the idea of a hero who could live forever really took off [and it's usually the heroes not the heroines who are immortal - I wonder why?]

I see it as more of a paranormal thing than sci-fi. My sci-fi themes tend to run to war with death as practically a secondary character.

MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

My immortals in Immorati are a race born that way. It has more to do with myth and folklore than science. However, the 'creatures' in the book, are not the immortals, though they do live a long time. I don't think that with immortals you have to take the science fiction road, or even the I've-been-bitten-and-now-I-must-turn-into-an-Immortal approach. I think the fascination with immortality comes from the glut of beauty treatments, plastic surgery and botox injections that seem to be so popular these days. The need to stay forever young and relevant--or sexy is reflected in the genre.

-Kat

Skylar Masey said...

I agree about the awe of immortality. I think it fascinates us, because humans still haven't unlocked the key. I mean look at how long people have talked about the fountain of youth (see The Fountain). Though people seem to want to live forever, I don't think they take into account all that the change would entail. Humans weren't "programmed" to live forever.

I think the reason we see more men as immortals is because they can be emotionless and compartmentalize better than women. Not to say that some women aren't also good at that, but men seem to be hardwired that way. Because of women's emotions (and yes, I know everything doesn't boil down to our cycles, teary-eyedness) I think it would be harder for us to let go of the things we want to cling to.

I think that immortality can only be shown in paranormals and sci-fi, because the concept seems a little alien. Unless someone wrote about a medical breakthrough, then readers wouldn't be willing to stretch their minds to that realm. And in paranormals and sci-fi's the writer is freer to dictate new rules, that don't necessarily apply to everyday actions (ie. real life without a twist).

When I think immortal, I think Duncan MacLeod. ;0)