Themes of the Science Fiction Formula Film:

  1. Fear of the future
    • America in the 1950s in the grip a a national emergency - "age of paranoia" - like film noir's theme of human inperfection and fear of the unknown
  2. Vast destruction
    • "imagination of disaster" on a scale so vast that man will have no future, will lose control of his destiny and destroy himself - man is his own worst enemy - Klaatu's speech
  3. Federal government is agent of salvation
    • alien invasion starts local then grows; help flows national to local - stable institutions restore order (Army, SAC) - Klaatu and Bobby visit the Lincoln Memorial
  4. Science is good
    • "rule of reason" by technology and science (Sontag) - coalition of the center - soldiers and scientists - Sam Jaffe as Prof. Barnhardt
  5. Us vs. Them
    • people vs. the pods & blobs & big bugs, culture vs. nature, moderates vs. extremists - film polarizes and defines both extremes, dehumanizes the enemy or reveals the enemy within - home is safe while danger is "out there" - sometimes Them are formed by our own creation and represent our own destruction.
  6. Consensus solution
    • repressive (weapons destroy the monster from the superego) or therapeutic (consensus heals the monster from the id) - permissivesness and selfishness represent internal threat - need for reaffirmation of traditional values, patriotism, family, discipline, self-sacrifice


Other Science Fiction Films:

revised 11/1/06 by Steven Schoenherr | Filmnotes | Day the Earth Stood Still