Theme Month! September 2016: Silent Science Fiction

On September 8, 1966, a little science fiction show called Star Trek made its network debut. What does this have to do with silent films? Not much at all but the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek is too important to pass up!

My reaction to Star Trek: The Original Series.
My reaction to Star Trek: The Original Series.

A while back, I asked my readers to vote on which theme month they would most like to see. Science Fiction won handily and I realized that this was a great opportunity to salute one of my favorite television shows while still remaining true to the spirit of my site.

My reaction to Star Trek: The Next Generation.
My reaction to Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I have been a Trekkie ever since I was about five years old. The first episode I ever saw was The Cage, oddly enough. It had just been restored using color footage from The Menagerie (a clip show from later in the series) and 16mm black and white footage from Gene Roddenberry’s private collection. I wish I could tell you that I was instantly dazzled by the clever science fiction plotting and the tale of film restoration but the fact is, I fell asleep. It turns out that the candy-colored Kirk era was much more to my taste. Hey, I was in kindergarten! (But I still do love classic Kirk Trek!) My favorite characters were McCoy and Uhura. Still are, come to think of it.

My reaction to Star Trek: Voyager.
My reaction to Star Trek: Voyager.

I was six when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted and I was an instant fan. I continued watching the original series (TOS) and the TNG crew’s shows and films. Alas, my local station did not carry Deep Space Nine and Voyager completely soured me with its pandering and condescending faux girl power (“Call me ma’am!!!!”) and its dreadful writing. Enterprise is something of which we do not speak. I kind of gave Trek a pass for fifteen years or so.

My reaction to Star Trek: Enterprise.
My reaction to Star Trek: Enterprise.

Last year, a nice TOS and TNG rewatch invigorated me and thanks to Netflix, I was finally able to see DS9, which I think is a perfectly smashing show and well worth the wait. I dusted off my Trekkie badge and am back in the galaxy again! (But I think I’ll pass on Star Trek: Discovery. For all their bragging about diversity, the show is run by white dudes with only one woman in the writing staff announced so far. Plus, the distribution method being used for North America is super scammy. Plus, it’s a prequel. Plus, the beige stench of VOY lingers. Ugh. No thanks.)

My reaction to Star Trek: Discovery.
My reaction to Star Trek: Discovery.

Now, let’s talk about this month’s festivities! I have made an effort to create a blend of famous and obscure silent films from multiple nations and multiple decades. (No Metropolis, I’m afraid. I find it so tedious that I have to work myself up to seeing it and I simply did not have the energy this month.)

My reaction to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
My reaction to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

I hope you will enjoy my selections but in the meantime, here are some science fiction films I have already reviewed on this site:

The X-Rays (1897): A charming British short about the then-brand new x-ray technology.

trip-to-the-moon-one-of-those-days

A Trip to the Moon (1902): THE iconic image of the silent era and a really splendid film to boot.

The Lost World (1925): Scientists, explorers and dinosaurs, oh my!

The Chess Player (1927): A historical sci-fi adventure with killer robots. Whoohoo!

chess-player-robot-army-2

21 Replies to “Theme Month! September 2016: Silent Science Fiction”

  1. Metropolis tedious!?! Hrmph. We will just have to disagree about that …

    Regardless … what of “Woman in the Moon” by Fritz Lang? Or “Aelita”, the Russian film?

  2. I’m looking forward to it! I have a similar trajectory with “Trek” – I refused to watch DS9 on the grounds that being not in a starship would somehow make it “boring,” but suffered through the first two seasons of “Voyager” before giving up. More recently I watched the entirety of both and a) found V-ger better than I remembered, especially from Season 3, and b) became a serious DS9 devotee.
    Anyway, silent sci fi is a fun project, and although I like Metropolis, I’m glad you’ll be covering more things I likely haven’t seen yet. Who knows? I could actually learn something…

    1. Hope you like what I have! πŸ˜‰

      VOY’s biggest sin, at least to me, is an utter lack of ambition. It had, arguably, the strongest basic concept of any Star Trek show but instead wasted it on bland TNG rehashes and warmed over aliens that were pretty much like most things in the Alpha Quadrant before giving up and relying on the Borg. Badness can be entertaining but playing it safe? Never. In fact, the reason I decided to give Farscape a shot was people mentioning that it took VOY’s criminal crew lost in space concept and made it work.

      But yeah, DS9 is awesome. Except for the (shudder) Pah-Wraiths.

  3. How many are unhappy with what you said about Metropolis:) I love that film but I know you have seen a to. More than I have and am looking forward to all the films you will present this month

    1. Oh, I’ve been prepared for the reaction since the mass tantrum after I didn’t name Fritz Lang as one of my top 5 silent directors. πŸ˜‰ I think Metropolis is gorgeous and groundbreaking but its underlying plot and themes are so jejune that I frankly find them unintentionally hilarious. (Ducks behind couch.)

  4. One of my faves started as a silent but had talking sequences crammed in.” Mysterious Island” 1929. Totally bizarre and doesn’t make lots of sense, but very interesting.Check it out!

  5. Yay for silent sci-fi, and for Star Trek! Personally, I enjoyed the first few seasons of Voyager, but the series did go downhill rather quickly towards the end. TNG and DS9 are my favs. And after reading your review of The Chess Player, I might just have to find that one and watch it. Killer robots in baroque Poland? Awesome!

    1. Glad you enjoyed! Yeah, I was shocked that no one was pushing the genre mashup angle because that is the coolest part of the film (aside from the stunning camera work.)

  6. Ah, this is going to be fun. I adore The Original Series, but I haven’t actually seen any of the other ones, apart from a few episodes of Voyager when it was on TV. I watched TOS because I was interested in early TV rather than because it was sci-fi, and I like silent movies for a similar reason. Anyway, TOS is like Metropolis, sometimes brilliant and sometimes cuckoo bananas. I adore them both for that reason πŸ˜‰ I look forward to reading your reviews!

  7. Cool! SF in silent era isn’t something that I’ve seen very often.

    Really, you don’t like Metropolis? I really like the film… but maybe that’s because I LOVED the book πŸ™‚

    1. Hope you enjoy!

      Yes, I find Metropolis visually stunning but a crashing bore. Just don’t tell anyone I feel the same way about Die Nibelungen or I’ll really be trouble! πŸ˜‰

  8. Looking forward to this. I’m not a sci fi fan, but want to broaden those horizons. Also my husband loved those gifs!

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