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!
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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!