Take a Plunge into Deep Space: Why You should (Re)visit Your Sci-fi Classics

by Fie

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2001: A Space Odyssey
Solaris
Star Trek


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We heart sci-fi cause sci-fi is awesome. Here's a concise ode to two of the genre's mastodonts courtesy of Fie.

So much of that transcendental shiver that sci-fi can send down your spine, comes through to you as spacy soundscapes and dreamy imagery. When sci-fi is truly intriguing, it's a voyage for the senses and reflects a play with otherworldly scenarios in its experimental combination of sound and vision. The presence of the supreme - the infinity of space – has proven to be the perfect backdrop for narratives exploring existential enigmas.

Sadly, sci-fi tends to be underestimated when it comes to artistic 'quality', but it's not all kitsch and tackiness. Far from it, fact. The genre has a true aesthetic richness of its own that deserves your attention. It's time to look back at some of the really serious stuff, the mastodonts of sci-fi film, and pay tribute to two great milestones, which have had a major influence on (sci-fi) filmmaking up until today and give depth and value to the sci-fi genre. Not to mention that one of them inspired the name of our famous TMA-1 headphones.* We love them dearly and want you to give them your precious attention. Here's why:

The number one sci-fi 'dinosaur' is Stanley Kubrick's legendary 2001: A Space Odyssey from 1968, a mind-wobbling story of the transcendence of time, space, and the mind. Tarkovskij's less celebrated, but nonetheless monumental Russian counterpart Solaris from 1972 runs a close second to Kubrick's master-piece, in our opinion. Together they epitomize the sci-fi film at its most ambitious. Watching these two gems is the kind of procrastination you'll never feel bad about, simply because it's mind-expanding and beautiful.

The (re-)experience should give new life to your fascination with sci-fi and all other works inspired by it, and (once more) make the puzzle-pieces of film history fall into place, as you recognize two major sources of inspiration for so much of what followed.

Kubrick's space epos is breath-taking in all its beauty and horror. The fact that this motion picture master piece from the late sixties, was created only two years after the first season of Star Trek aired (no disrespect meant) is astounding. You get sucked into its surprising flawlessness and its lingering, wordless space-horizons. You get freaked out by the the increasing claustrophia, of the astronaut lost in the wilderness of space and the frantic psychedelia of a mind verging on madness. In other words, you get just a little lost in space yourself, as the doomed protagonist in his spacesuit slowly loses all contact with Mother Earth.

What Solaris may lack in advanced visual effects, Tarkovskij's beautifully melancholic space-tale makes up for with its ominous ambience, its sensuous pace and the evocative images of the surface of an arcane extraterrestrial sea. Aboard an abandoned space station orbiting the planet Solaris, a few remaining passengers are haunted by materializations of their memories and seek answers to impossible questions as they lose their sense of what is real. The images are eery and hypnotic, the atmosphere dream-like and surreal.

Both films have awesome audio tracks that brilliantly capture the creepiness of space, the grandeur of whirling elements and the infinite cosmos. Howling discords underline the confusion of the haluccinating astro-/cosmonaut facing utter solitude and painful paradoxes or being hurled into a temporal and spatial vacuum.

To top it all with one last dirty pleasure, the 2012 viewer will find these films drenched with a nostalgia that alone makes Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey worth watching if you love that peep into the vanished, recent past. Wallow in the perfect style-study of U.S.A. in the 1960'es and U.S.S.R. in the early 1970'es and have fun comparing the visions of progress and scientific frontiers, seen from two cold fronts. There's a beauty in these futuristic visions – nearly half a decade old – at the same time fascinated and terrified by the racing technological evolution they witnessed and were inspired by.

To those of you who shy away from science fiction, finding the premise too far out for you to swallow we suggest you give these two movie milestones a chance. It's guaranteed to blow your mind one way or the other.

The rest of you who are already knowers and lovers of sci-fi. Do yourselves a favour and do it one more time.

  • TMA-1 stands for ”Tycho-magnetic anomaly 1” and is the term used in Arthur C. Clarke's novel Space Odyssey - and Kubrick's filmatization - about the finding of one of a series of monoliths created by extraterrestrial beings. TMA-1 is found on the Moon and starts sending out powerful radio waves after exposure to sun-light.