Earth is fucked. In Joshua’s opinion, there is nothing to salvage. The fields are dry, the limestone soil aborts its young before they bud. The sick sun only gives the city a handful of hours a day – or what’s left of it – to feed the plants. Either way, his meager heat isn’t enough to stimulate their wrinkled leaves. The stems lengthen desperately, the shoots become exhausted and spread out the better to return to the earth. Since the Fall, this planet is nothing more than a big corpse.
— I disagree. An old plastic bag full of dirt in hand, Eli shakes his head. — There are solutions, he insists. — Are you talking about your garden on the third floor? — That works. I grow more and more stuff.
The third is the last part of the building that did not collapse. The walls are torn without logic, like cutting a sheet by pulling on its ends. It is reached by a staircase that lets in the rain – when it deigns to fall. Eli requisitioned it to start a vegetable garden there and, since then, it has disappeared for hours over his head. Joshua doesn’t care. He takes the opportunity to read old books that he collects from the common library, when he’s not fixing something old or testing his connection. In vain. Few still manage to access the NewWeb today.
— Hey, Josh. — What ? — You would not want to let go of your machines, sometimes?
His machines. That’s what Eli calls his tampered radio and the computer he managed to revive. With the energy he diverts, he manages to light them for an hour a day. It’s little, it doesn’t do him much good. But that’s all he has left of his great pre-Fall passion.
— Why ? — I have something to show you. Joshua shrugs. He abandons his things to get up. — Can you take the pallets by the way?
He catches them without answering. The weathered wood is clear against its black skin. He strokes it briefly to check for splinters, then he loads them onto his shoulders. He is muscular, much more than Eli. Even if he never did anything for it. Joshua has always preferred the silence of a bedroom to the sun of a summer day. It never really worked before. It was… complicated. It’s always been complicated. He is one of those who welcomed the end of the world with relief. He climbs the stairs at his own pace. Outside, dusk awaits him. If the building they are squatting in was once a proud building, it is now nothing more than an amputated pillar. Broken walls and, in the middle, a pile of pots and planters where Eli spreads his plants.
— You can put it there. Joshua drops his weight. — Come.
He does not understand what the other expects of him. He was never good at gardening. If he tried to pull a shoot from his soil, he would probably break the stem. When he wants to water them, he drowns them, and he can’t guess what disease is turning their green leaves into funny yellow spots. No, Joshua does not understand plants. Their nature intimidates him. But he likes the little cries of bats that rise as night falls.
— Eli? — It’s over there.
He sees her blonde hair fluttering on her neck. Cut with tears, the rough locks are surly forms. Like leaves scorched by the sun. When he passes his hand over it, the material reminds him of the dead earth they tread on every day. This too hard soil where nothing grows anymore. Almost nothing. Every time he looks out the window, he sees only a dry world that is dying. He does not understand why Eli strives to plant his little seeds. Even if he likes the shape of the leaves of the tomato plants.
— here. An empty dirt container. Good. — Looked.
Since he’s the one asking, Joshua leans down unbelievingly. He observes and looks at this soft and humid matter which seems to be moving. She swarms. Move of his own volition. It’s weird, but he understands better what is going on by discerning the pink shapes which move in the middle of each other.
— What’s this ? — Earthworms. — It’s ugly.
Elijah laughs. His voice, more powerful than his, explodes in the night.
— It’s not made to be beautiful. — It’s sticky.
Of course, Joshua knows earthworms. He’s seen it a long time ago. Several years.
— And it’s crawling. — I say. It’s not very pretty to see. — Why are you putting them there? — For the compost.
Compost. He’s heard that word many times, but he realizes he doesn’t really know the definition. Compost. It looks like compote. Except he doesn’t want to bite it.
— I do not understand.
He never understands gardening, anyway. And he doesn’t understand why that makes Eli smile either. Instead, he would be offended.
— It’s for growing plants. To feed them. — And after ? — There is no after. We mix it with the soil and wait for it to grow.
He takes his hand to drag him to his pots. Not those who sleep outside, no. Those in the big greenhouse. Where he sees two small green circles which are probably future tomatoes.
— That’s life.
— It’s plants.
Eli strokes the ceramic rim of a pot. Joshua does not imitate him. He hates this material which catches his fingers.
— We haven’t been able to plant anything for years now. The fields are bursting. But that… That, that pushed. With a little effort and patience. He caresses the underside of an incredibly green leaf.
— Of course it’s nothing compared to what we could do before. It takes time and we don’t even have enough to eat. But it pushes.
There are zucchini, more, far. Their long serrated leaves make it think of teeth. Those of bats. Joshua is very fond of bats. The curled up cocoon that their bodies form when they hide in an old parasol. Looks like a twisted seed ready to bloom.
— What are the worms for? he asks, pointing to the tray. — It enriches the soil. They aerate the earth by digging holes, it also promotes the penetration of water, and… It’s complicated to explain, but that’s why the earth isn’t completely punctured. Aeration, enrichment. It’s fuzzy in Joshua’s head, but Eli says it with such conviction. He sees him running off to grab a book – a big, heavy book with a cracked spine.
— I picked this up at the Chardons bookstore. Must believe that gardening did not interest the looters, he explains by turning the pages. There are things to do. Even if it’s shit, we can still grow plants, Josh. He catches her eye. Eli has eyes that are too blue, clear as a glass of water. Eyes that can’t lie. — And as long as you can grow plants, there’s life.
A gust of wind stirs the leaves around them. Those of the shoots that do not sleep in the greenhouse, under artificial lights. Joshua scans the material they have amassed here. These treasures that they struggle to keep alive with their stolen generator. These little lives that sink their roots into a black earth.
Most of the time, he doubts that anyone will ever be able to grow as many stems out of the ground as they need. He got used to old cans found in an abandoned apartment that hasn’t been stripped yet. But when Eli’s gaze lights up for a sprout that points the tip of its muzzle, it’s stronger than him. He finds himself hoping.
Wednesday night with Priya and her boyfriend, we watched old movies including Modern Time with Charlie Chaplin. I love this movie but I was exhausted and I fell asleep in front of it and I had a funny dream which inspired me to write this story. It deserves to be a little more worked but I hope you will enjoy it anyway!
I had just taken my service, behind the machine, as usual, like everyone else. On my right, in place of John, in front of the machine, stood another machine, this time sophisticated. An android. It had been a good two months since John had been at the factory. Unfit. It could no longer keep pace and the experts who had come some time earlier to improve space management for better performance had been unable to do anything. The diagnosis was clear: “ Performance disorders ”. From now on, the health services took care of him. Take the chicken, turn it over, remove the giblets, put the chicken on the conveyor belt, take the chicken,…, eight hours a day. John receives the chicken on the chain, hangs it on a hook. He cuts thighs, wings, fillets, thighs,…, eight hours a day. With John, we were able to adapt to the rhythm of the channel. Sometimes I slowed down, didn’t send the chickens too fast. It was only a few seconds gained, but over eight hours it was felt especially when the pain appeared. But that day, the android was going fast, very fast. He was waiting for the chickens. Each time, for a moment, he stared at me with his eyes like cameras. The same as those suspended from the ceiling. When the siren announced the end of the day, I returned home. The android stayed. An immense anxiety came over me. His gaze had something strange. The next day he was still there. The chain started, he came to life, turned his head, looked at me, waited.
— 35 years in the shop and 75% organic matter, John regularly threw at me with his smile tinged with a slight bitterness.
He was a funny guy. Still a little angry and a little disillusioned. It seemed to belong to another time. He often spoke to me about a guy from the beginning of the 20th century whose name I have forgotten. It’s called an artist, I believe.
— You see Louis, this film tells our story. The guy, he screws bolts on an assembly line and the line goes faster and faster. So he accelerates, but he can’t keep up. Suddenly, he finds himself caught up in the cogs, turns inside the system and comes out mad. This guy was a subversive genius. But you see, he was also a comedian and we only remember that, comedy. So everyone laughs, everyone applauds, and everyone goes back to screwing their bolts. But shit, that guy was an anarchist!
A loud beep snapped me out of my thoughts. It was off again for eight o’clock. This android was going really fast. The channel is the boss. She sets the pace. It’s hard on the body. John said that it was called Taylorism around the middle of the 20th century and then Toyotism at the beginning of the 21st.
— The right gesture in the right space. Make the gesture as precise as possible, the most effective, avoid useless movements, limit the loss of time, limit space, erase the singularity, eradicate the error, adapt to the chain. But do you think Picasso could have painted all his work on a chain?
Artist ? Anarchist? Picasso? Taylorism? Toyotism? Where did all this come from? I tried to find out about the web. Since I couldn’t find anything about it on the official corporate websites, I wondered if John was going off the rails a bit. The buzzer sounded again. The android was waiting.
— Louis. May I call you Louis? Our studies show a drop in performance in your job. It looks like your pace has slowed down a bit. In front of me, they were three. Malfunction department agents.
— But don’t worry, we’ll help you find your initial skills. We see in your file that you have already received treatment for your knees.
— Yes, I started with the orientation of the goods. The knees, it was from bending down to lift the boxes.
— Hmm, I see. We have spotted that the failure would now be located in your wrists. You will be received by the health services so that a diagnosis can be established.
With my new biotechnical wristbands, I thought everything would be better. But I kept thinking about a discussion I had had one day with John, at his house, after work.
— I don’t understand John. The guys when they work, they yell at the bosses and when they don’t work anymore, they still yell at the bosses.
— I’ll tell you Louis, it’s very simple. They yell because they are morons. Yes morons. Frankly, to spend eight hours a day with your nose in a chicken’s ass really has to be a moron. But the worst is when they get fired. After all we’ve done for this factory. I spent thirty years of my life there. And now ? Which ass am I going to put my nose in? No, but what do they believe? That we’ll roll out the red carpet for them for service to the Corporation. Yes you are right Louis. When they work, they yell at the bosses. When they don’t work anymore, they yell at the bosses. I’ll tell you. It suits them. Like that, they tell themselves that they are not responsible. But you know, to put your nose in the chicken’s ass, you have to lean forward a bit, sometimes you even have to squat down, and there generally you don’t get a nose. Can you see the painting a bit? At first it hurts a little, and then you get used to it, maybe you even end up liking it. But there is something that really hurts them. That’s when it stops. Because there they find themselves alone in front of themselves. Forced to make the sad statement of their miserable condition. And that is unbearable. So they look further. A guy sticking his nose in the ass of a cheaper chicken. And there it’s even more unbearable, because he has at least an ass he can stick his nose in. So they choose a leader. A manager who will save them. They even vote for him. That way, if the manager doesn’t save them, they can always say it’s his fault. So Louis! Ask yourself! Whose ass do you stick your nose in?
John stood in front of me, his elbow resting on the table, his forearm vertical. In his hand, a life-size, wooden, carved rump.
— Take it, it is for you. And do not forget. The truth is in the chicken’s ass.
On my way home, I looked for this rump. I couldn’t remember where I put it, but I found it in the back of a drawer. I took a hammer. I typed sharply. Inside was a gigamax hard drive. Quite rare and rather expensive. I slipped it into the plug provided for this purpose, behind my right ear, and there: An infinity of data, an immensity of knowledge for which a thousand lives would not be enough to go around.
I no longer have the heart to work. The buzzer sounded three times today. — Louis. Allow me to call you Louis. The corporation has decided to offer you a “ Performance Rehabilitation Program ”. The health services will come and get you. I went to the workshop to pick up my things. As I left, I turned one last time to the android. We looked at each other. It seemed to me that he was crying.
Today I offer you a science fiction story inspired by the latest IPCC reports. It’s not very optimistic. For me it is high time that we move our ass to act but I have the impression that most world leaders do not give a damn because it won’t affect their generation. I promise I’ll try to be in another mood for the next story.
A single tear that will never fall clearly stands out on my right cheekbone. My name is Tear. At least, that’s what the inhabitants of the Burrow call me. I have long forgotten the first name chosen by my parents, perhaps I never even knew it. — Tear! Tear! Bring your butt, we found something! It’s Cio’s voice. I wonder what they could find this time. I take off at a run. I descend the steep slope overlooking the Burrow. A mixture of sand and loose stones rolls under my feet, I will soon have to think about getting back on the road. Cio is waiting for me at the bottom of the drop and leads me towards the crowd. I jostle the pock-faced twins Rari and Tul. They let me pass without flinching.
— What is that ?
— We do not know. We thought you would know. I lean over and look at the metal box pitted with rust, it almost crumbles to dust. “How did you find that?” — It’s little Marr, he fell to the bottom of a crevasse. We tried to fish him out, but it was too late, he was in bad shape, his legs where his arms were, if you know what I mean. I nod in silence, I’ve seen too many bodies dislocated by the fatal falls that are repeated at each bivouac. Rari continues by cutting Cio off: — At the bottom, we discovered a kind of very hard piece. Half of it had collapsed, but we were still able to get in. There were plenty of empty boxes except one, and inside was this. Another box. I look again. They have just opened the small chest. Cio protests: — I’m the one telling! It was me who found the box, so it’s me who tells… Do you understand? Rari and Tul start laughing.
— Ok, chief, it is you who tell. I really like both boys, they live by their own rules. They follow the Walkers, but rarely mix with the Pack except when rescuing one of our own. This time, unfortunately, the rescue came to nothing. Petit Marr went there, like many. Cio is carefully taking out a rectangular object wrapped in a sort of dry, cracked skin, and opens it very slowly, as if he was afraid that the inanimate structure would suddenly come to life. — Oooooh! marvels little Lota. A book, a real book, as old Roy described it to us. This one is different: instead of the words we can’t decipher, there are color drawings. Everyone tries to see over their neighbor’s shoulder, the jostling begins, and it’s still the twins’ turn to calm the little band gathered at the entrance to the North maze. Cio places the book in my hands, a proud smile on his chapped lips. I open to the first page, a few words are drawn on the top of the document, I squint, we don’t know how to read this, nobody knows. I continue, the rest is easier, these are images. I know what it is. Old Roy, before he died, explained everything to me. That’s why others respect me, I’m the one who knows.
Our history is oral, we no longer write it. Each Pack has a Storyteller, guardian of memory. I am a Storyteller, I have the memory of the world. I sit on the ground, in the dust, and look at the orange sky. Our lookouts have not sounded the alarm, we still have a little time before the rains arrive. I raise my arm and show the first image.
— It is a tree. I hear “oh” and “ah” all around me. One after the other, the band settles on the ground. — Is a tree what feeds the planet? asks little Lota, the smartest of the group in my opinion. She has not reached the age of eight and I hope she will survive a few more years. I’ll teach him the history of the world like old Roy did before me. — Yes, Lota, the trees fed the earth and the earth fed us. — I would like to see one for real, exclaims Cio, the dreamer. Everyone nods. — We are the Walkers, one day our steps will take us where the trees still exist. — Is it true that trees make clear rain? I nod and turn the second page. Another tree. — Plants create clear rain and offer it as a gift to men. — Why aren’t we allowed gifts? It’s Sven’s voice, I didn’t see it coming. I can’t take my eyes off his dirty face, his blue eyes shine fiercely, he is my rock, my stability, my reason to go on and on. — The elders have decided otherwise,” Lota answers tit for tat. Definitely, this little one surprises me from day to day. Sven sniffs and drops to one knee before whispering in my ear: — Come on, I need to talk to you. I get up and give the book back to Cio.
— Put it back in the box to protect it and bring it home, with the rest. Has anyone notified little Marr’s mother? The twins nod and I smile sadly at them, then join Sven who is waiting for me a little further. — What is it ? — We have to leave. — When ? I never question Sven’s common sense. He is not mistaken. He knows the stone, he guesses the moment when it will no longer hold and will end up burying us all. — Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow at the latest. — The Trackers have found a location? — Yes, but the walk will be difficult. We are going to lose people. I sigh and lean my forehead against his chest. He says nothing, but uses me against him. — We’ll take Lota. The twins and Cio will follow. Sven rests his chin on the top of my head.
— As you want, but in case of rain, it will be every man for himself. The law of the strongest, as always.
The watchmen’s horn sounds. A long hoot followed by a shorter one. This is the signal to warn of impending rain. Sven sits up and grabs my hand before running. I check in passing that the gang is no longer outside; they must have bolted at the first warning. The northern maze is ours: Lota, Cio, Rari, Tul, Jay, who has found his place among the Trackers, Sven and me. This is the most dangerous part of the Burrow, we are used to it, we always choose the least easy, the least livable. Over time, we became strong and independent. Others fear and envy us. — The lookouts have shit in their pants again, laughs Cio. Lota interrupts him: — Better too soon than too late. — Well, it’s not as if we had ever narrowly failed to dissolve the mouth. We all have a scar to prove it. His gaze passes over the tear that digs into my flesh and makes me look nostalgic. Forgotten memory of my childhood. I don’t know how it happened. My parents died a long time ago, I have always carried this symbol of sadness, this mark that nature engraved on my face.
Acid rain began hundreds of years ago. It all started with the disappearance of oil. The last stripe sucked from the bowels of the Earth left the world in total disarray. Other energies were put in place to fill the gap, but the demand was too great. The wind turbines did not produce enough, the nuclear ended up being abandoned during the last accident which made Japan and Korea disappear unified. Tidal and solar power was used until the last moment, but the brown cloud definitely put a stop to any future attempts. The earth is turning in slow motion. The sunlight hardly reaches us anymore, we die slowly, drowned in a muddy chiaroscuro. Old Roy told me all that, and even more. At first, American researchers had the brilliant idea of melting our waste to reproduce the lost fossil energy. For a few years, the world regained its former flamboyance. Planes flew in the sky, machines worked for the well-being of the population, trade had never been so flourishing. Then the Day of Tears came. The first acid rain took everyone by surprise, ravaging cities and countryside, killing animals, crops, people. During the first decades, scientists were hopeful that everything would stop and that the water in the sky would become pure again. Unfortunately, the years passed and the land turned into a desert. The survivors became hermits, protecting themselves in the caves, the only ones capable of resisting the acidity of the sky. Water and food soon became a problem. There was no shortage of acts of barbarism, the strongest survived. We are piss children, as Cio says. We learned to distill urine. I never drank anything else. Life expectancy has been halved. We don’t have many old people among us. Their urine is too ammoniated, they live together and die together, poisoned by their own fluids. We feed on insects and anything we can find edible and smart enough to avoid the rains. We have become nomads. The rock protects us, but wears out quickly and we need to find something stronger day after day. The Trackers locate the habitable places, it is up to us to make them our home for a few weeks before the inevitable march which will not fail to arrive sooner or later. Pregnant women are the most protected, if we don’t want the human species to die out, we must reproduce ourselves in sufficient quantity. Sven is ready, he thinks we should try. Everyone is free to choose their partner, but sometimes gangs of Reproducers arrive, they only target women of childbearing age, we have never found any of them. Old Roy only divulged the history of the planet to his successor: me, in this case. He said it was no good taunting survivors, that if we understood what the planet had once been like, jealousy, anger and disappointment would destroy what little hope we had left. I do not envy our ancestors. My limited imagination cannot envision the extraordinary.
We find Cio and the others in the northern maze. They have all heard the news of the imminent departure and are already packing up their meager possessions, except Lota, who remains motionless in the middle of the dark excavation.
— What is it ? Cio stole your rag again? – this piece of ageless fabric that she drags everywhere. She shakes her head negatively.
— I do not want to leave. — We must leave this cave or we will die, you know that very well. — What if the rain stops? — What if she didn’t stop? Lota sighs, she has no choice, she has to walk. Sven pulls me into our corner, his gaze serious, his jaw tense. — I spoke with Jay, the Stalkers who returned brought with them a Walker. A rumor is circulating. He stops and tests my face with his eyes so blue.
— A rumor ? You know rumors have killed more men than the rains. — This time it’s different. The Walker comes from the West, he says the rains have almost stopped there. He has made it his mission to transmit information as far as the Russian republic. Sven raises an eyebrow, he doesn’t know what the Russian republic is. The Walker is a Storyteller without a doubt. I explain in two words where the place is located and ask: — What does Jay think? — He says it’s the first time a sane traveler has come to us. He speaks coherently and can answer questions without rambling. — What have the Stalkers decided? — That we would go west. — Do you really think the rains will ever stop? — No, but we’ll go west all the same. — What will we find there?” A toxic ocean that we can never cross. We know it, you and I have seen it with our own eyes. The world stops at the seas. Do you remember the swamps? How many died? Ten, thirty, a hundred? Sven grabs my face between his two hands and follows my motionless tear with his fingertips. It has a strange delicacy that only I can see. — Lota needs to believe it. Cio says nothing, but he’s scared. The twins told me that they had heard him cry in his sleep. And you… I sigh. My eyes, accustomed to the darkness, spot a gray bat, with thick fur and fangs several centimeters long. She will not hesitate to attack. It too must survive. I push Sven to the side and throw the stick I keep in my belt. He twirls around and catches the animal’s wing, which falls heavily to the ground. Sven picks it up and snaps the back of his neck without flinching. We will have meat tonight. He faces me now and resumes as if nothing had happened:
— And you ? Wouldn’t you like to feel safe? He raises the poor animal which hangs limply at the end of his arm and continues: wouldn’t you want to eat your fill every day?
— And if we fail? Sven points to the cave with his hand. — We’ve failed before, we just have to start over, doing better this time. I nod slowly and meet his gaze. I read there the determination and the fear too. Lota joins us, she drags behind her her travel bag ingeniously equipped with wheels, an idea of the twins. The little girl’s eyes are circled in black. Concern can be read on his young face.
— Everybody is ready. We are the vanguard, we will lead the way and if we survive then the Pack will follow. Sven ruffles her hair. — Go find Jay and tell him we won’t be leaving until tomorrow, we’ll be walking at night when the rains are less frequent. Lota walks away, her steps lightened by this respite of a few hours. My eyes betray my incomprehension.
— Why tomorrow ? ‘Because this will be our last trip. My heart squeezes painfully in my chest. We will only travel west once. Our group is dying. — We will create our own world, better and wiser. We will live in the open air and the trees will watch over us. You have told us so often. I want to see the earth as it is described in the books you jealously guard. I want to have children and I want to grow old, he explains to me with new seriousness. I nod without being able to say a word, my throat tight. Hope is foolish, we shouldn’t get attached to it and yet… Tonight we will sleep in each other’s arms and tomorrow, with bellies perhaps full of new life, we will walk.
“ You’ll see, it works, I read that in a magazine of the time.” While remembering the advice of a friend, Ed Hill took a deep breath in order to bring down the anguish. Hopefully, the torment his stomach was inflicting on him will fade away in a saving breath of air.
The air entered his nose, bringing with it the scent of his freshly applied perfume, then rushed into his lungs and finally escaped from his mouth. This sensation, as new as it was, gave him an intense surge of oxygen to his brain, blurring his sight for a few seconds. On the other hand, his stress did not decrease, lack of pot.
Hidden behind the black stage curtains, he could already hear Brian Schmitt, the electrifying robot everyone was raving about. “ Welcome to New Encounters, the show where the world unfolds before your eyes… ”, he perceived from afar. Brian presented the most watched TV show in France and just before joining him, Ed dithered. He was just a scientist, not a star. Why inflict such pressure on yourself?
Nevertheless, the commitments were made, the distribution contracts signed with the hand of a wise automaton and the spirits heated to the bone. It was no longer possible to go back. Her life had just changed drastically and, deep down, Ed hoped that she would upset the lives of many others.
— Ladies and gentlemen, please give a proper welcome to Doctor Ed Hill! Brian declared with conviction.
A resounding thunder of applause rang out from the audience, while a tech robot made sweeping gestures compulsively for Ed to enter the stage. Hesitantly, the latter advanced towards the light, touching in the process the dark fabric which separated him from the tray. A gentle heat caressed his right arm before disappearing in a blinding glare.
— Welcome ! Can I call you Ed? Started Brian to relax the atmosphere, while asking his guest to sit down. — Of course. he replied, intimidated.
Apart from the stage, illuminated by powerful lights, everything was completely plunged into darkness. The red sensors of the cameras were pointed towards the center, where Ed Hill was going to be filmed for the first time.
— How are you doing ? You look radiant to me. — I’m glad to be here, Ed said, a grain in his voice.
— You see me delighted. I understand that the events we are going to talk about this evening have not been easy. Will you find it difficult to confide in yourself?
— Don’t worry, I’m ready. You have before your eyes the fruit of several years’ work, as tedious as it is fascinating, Ed confided while pinching his forearm in front of the lens. — Ah! Was it painful? Brian asked, laughing. — Let’s just say it tingles a bit, Ed ventured, smiling broadly.
— What humor ! Applaud him, ladies and gentlemen! Doctor Ed Hill! cried Brian.
Cheers broke out from the audience.
— Very well, then Ed, let’s not wait any longer! Tell us about Hangar 66? Brian continued in a calm voice. — Do you remember your birth factory Brian? — Like it was yesterday. — I will put my hand to cut that it looks like two drops of water. In any case, hangar 66 is identical to mine, I was inspired by it. A particular atmosphere hovers there, full of questioning and doubt, but also of excitement and desire, necessary for the development of a marvelous future. The only difference is that it is not robots that come out, but human beings. — And what a success, cried Brian, waving his arm at his guest.
Applause rang out, then the presenter continued.
— Ed, tell me, why did you want to be first? — That’s a good question, Brian, Ed replied, brushing his hair with the back of his hand. Quite simply because I am the instigator of this experiment. I would have blamed myself if harmful side effects had occurred on people other than me. — Precisely, have you had any side effects? — Not yet, except ravenously hungry,” Ed joked, feeling more and more at ease.
The audience followed him in his euphoria.
— What did you prefer to eat, since your rebirth? — When I woke up, they brought me what the humans called an Emmenthal ham sandwich. — How was it ? asked Brian, microphones dangling from Ed’s lips. — Delicious, I cried. — Cried, you hear that! Brian cried as he stared at the camera, his voice laced with passion. New emotions overwhelm you? insisted the presenter. — All the time. It’s only been a few days, but already I’m lost in the twists and turns of my sensitivity. Empathy overwhelms me when I see robots in distress, anger overwhelms me when I observe the price of electricity, and fear immobilizes me when I launch into an interview like this, my brain is boiling and my body reacts accordingly. — Stunning! How do you handle all of this? — For now, I suffer more than I manage, I’m not going to lie. We still have a lot to learn. This body is like an alarm bell on constant alert, it’s disconcerting. However, it makes you feel awfully alive. — What hell ! laughed Brian, while throwing his arms in the sky. — Nothing to do with god, I assure you, Ed joked.
The spectators burst out laughing.
— Everyone here wants to know Ed., how is the operation going? Brian asked, regaining control of his broadcast. — The trickiest part is the making of the human body. They are so complex, it’s fascinating. Then just download our consciousness into the brain and you’re done, Ed explained proudly. — It seems so simple. But, for what reasons? Why do you want to revolutionize the world in this way? — This experience was born from an observation, which I realized after my first birthday bolts. Like many others, I understood that our mechanical eternity, as important as it is in our eyes, leads us towards a suffocating gloom, in which surprise and adventure no longer have any place. Our archives prove to us that at the time of humans, the world was full of creative energy of all kinds, making the slightest bit of boredom fleeting. Me what I want is to discover what the audacity of mortality can bring to our world in loss of imagination.
A long and heavy “Aaah” escaped from the audience, approving the doctor’s words.
— And do you feel a new energy? — Just imagine that just this morning, I was wondering what I was going to be able to do with the time that was allotted to me. You see, the fatality of death has a spicy taste of adventure, it’s gripping. — And what are you going to do with this time? — I don’t really know, let’s say I’ll take the time to think about it, Ed said humorously. — Funny! Brian stated firmly. Finally, do you have a message to convey? — I must say that for the moment, I live an extraordinary experience. My body is only 20 years old, my senses are awake, my brain is fiery and I have only one desire, to share my life with other human beings. To know joy, sadness, love, melancholy and who knows what else. With our robotic wisdom, acquired over our millennia of existence, these emotions are real sources of inspiration, so don’t hesitate! If you feel like living life to the full and dying with panache, head to Hangar 66! — Magnificent ! It was Brian Schmitt, with Dr. Ed Hill. The first human is reborn from his cybernetic ashes! I wish you a good evening, and see you tomorrow for new new encounters! concludes the presenter, under the ovation of a conquered public.
From Andy Cline’s Ready Player One to Judge Dread to Black Mirror and Pacific Rim, near future works are endless. Close anticipation is not a genre, it is an approach. Common point of the corpus: the stories must take place in the near future. Something to get excited about and also often fuel the nightmare machine.
What is sience-fiction?
Science fiction is inextricably linked with anticipation. It is about imagining possible developments in science and technology in order to explore possible future possibilities. In their time, the forerunners of Mary Shelley (Frenkenstein), HG WELLS (The Time Machine) and Jules Vernes (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) marveled at the advances of their time to build wonderful philosophical stories. or terrifying. These, among others, invented speculative fiction. Imagining the future, even on the basis of facts and cutting-edge documentation, is still science fiction. SF is written in the conditional, not in the future, and always feeds on the context in which it is born. And too bad if its projections fall short of reality or become obsolete, sometimes in just a few years. Because even when they claim to talk about something else, the works are full of the mindset, values and knowledge of their time, and of their author. It always speaks of the present, and has effects in the present.
The case of near future.
The genres of the imagination, including fantasy and SF, are therefore always situated in relation to the real, and the works of near future undoubtedly hide this even less than the others: their plots are close to their context and time. of creation – and close to us who receive them. For the British writer J.G. Ballard, the near future would be a means of talking about the “true future”, the one that we “see approaching”, as opposed to hypothetical elsewhere, in eras and galaxies far, very distant. On the contrary, from space opera or mythical fantasy, the near future does not open the door to escape, it immediately announces “in not very long” and implies “right here”. Ballard himself was adapted (Crash by David Cronenberg).
In the continuity of Ballard, many works – novels, films, comic series, games – have placed their plots in a futuristic universe, without necessarily exploring a supposed immediate future. Problem: all fiction implies a distancing from reality. Near future works consciously break this convention with the help of a distorting mirror. Everything is familiar and so different.
But why are these works often so terrifying?
Seeing the future negatively, is it for ease? Where has the reassuring cocoon of our daily comfort gone? Do we no longer have the right to dream, to imagine? This is a crucial question. Most of the near-anticipation works outbid the existing, adding a small dose of dark futurism, freewheeling technology, eerie androids, triumphant capitalism, and permanent cops. Just what it takes to smash the glass in our comfort zone. The reassuring daily life becomes deadly, your intelligent vacuum cleaner seeks to kill you, a spaceship is planning its worrying shadow over the city, even it is absolutely necessary to chip or get vaccinated so as not to fall on the cost of law and order. . (get vaccinated guys, this is important) In the preface to his full short stories, Ballard cautioned against this trend:
“The future […] is a dangerous, heavily mined area that tends to turn around to bite your ankles when you take a step forward. “
Too late the damage is done. Many works anchored in the near future stage an imperceptible and perpetual shift where each technology, each authoritarian drift, each change in lifestyle or degree of global warming, testifies to the fact that nothing will ever be the same again. Rather than the completely reconfigured worlds of the post-apocalypse, where everything was destroyed and then recast, this is about the cycles of life and death of civilizations. The collapse is not imminent, it is immanent. History is on the move. It happens continuously. In the fluctuations of a pandemic, the British series Years and Years, or through the words of Chuck in Fight Club:
«This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time”
Paradoxically, it is also this perpetual end of the known world that allows all hopes and allows utopias to flourish, however diffuse they may be. Dark futures fuel the emergence of new horizons, new battles to be waged and new hopes to be nourished. Suddenly utopias exist mainly to legitimize the fights waged against them. In reality, the great battle of imaginations, ideas and values is fought deep inside each of us. The fight is brutal, merciless, it spares none of our received ideas, our intuitions and our usual thinking patterns. And test what we think we know as the disgust, fear or revolt that arises over fiction becomes able to inspire us and spur us to action. For example, the treatment of aliens in District 9 strikes us as despicable, because it inevitably reminds us of the plight of refugees around the world. What is terrifying about this distorting mirror is less the distortion it conjures up than the fact that we recognize ourselves in it.
I’ve been talking about films for a while now, but I’ve never written an article about genres as such, because I wasn’t really paying attention until then. I was told that such and such a film was part of such and such a genre and I said “Okey”! I don’t like to put artistic works in cases, but we must recognize that certain films or books respect codes which are specific to their genre, and we will see why.
Why classify films by genre?
There are two ways to approach the question of gender:
Either we have the film and then we have the genre:
The director thinks he wants to make a film and then it’s up to the theaters, the producers, see the spectators to give it a genre.
George Mélies, in directing “Voyage dans la Lune”, didn’t think he was going to make a sci-fi movie, for good reason the genre didn’t exist yet.
Either we have the genre first and then we have the movie:
The director will say to himself, I am going to make an action film (for example) and create his film based on the genre
But which came first the chicken or the egg? What is the relationship between the egg, the chicken and science fiction?
I am deeply convinced that in the first place there were films and the more they were, the more we could see similarities appear, first borrowed from other art forms, until the appearance of similarities which were specific to them.
In 1903, “The great train robbery” was released, a film where cowboys steal a train in the American West. In 1914, “Squaw Man” was released, a film about an English officer who was to marry an Indian in the American West. In 1916, “Hell’s Hinges” tells the story of a cowboy who falls in love with an outlaw in the American West
From there, the audience thought, “It would still be handy if we had a name for all of our films with cowboys and Indians in the American West!” “ As for the producers, they say to themselves: “I would like to make a film with cowboys and Indians in the American West, but I would like to bring something else to it” And you get the need to name: The Western. The label is for the public to say, “I’ll be fine watching a Western.” “, So that the cinema can say:” We offer you a Western. “, But above all so that the directors can say to themselves” I want to do a Western. “ Genre cinema was born.
The genre film is a film in which the genre is creative. It is a film that will take into account the codes of a genre, to exploit them, to divert them, to satisfy or deceive the expectations of the viewer. Because when we talk about gender in the cinema, we are talking about the spectator’s expectations.
But how are genres defined? Well, it’s something very vague and often the same movie can have several genres. To make this article I used several criteria.
How to define a genre?
For me there are 4 elements that define the genre of a film:
The tone of the film
The themes of the film
The scenario (by its structure or concerning certain elements only)
The target of the film
Some people use the format of the film, but for me, it’s a mistake.
When you see the animated film category on certain sites, it makes as much sense to me as black and white films or silent films or even cinema scope films. It doesn’t ring a bell about the movie you’re going to watch. A genre that brings together under the same label:
“The Emoji Movie”, “Akira”, “Persepolis” and “The Lord of the Ring” (1978) It’s a label that is useless.
Among its four elements, some will have practically binding conditions, established rules that cannot be broken, but these are often very broad rules. In the family genre, the only essential element is related to the tone, it must be accessible and viewable to children without bothering parents. Yes, it is fuzzy and arbitrary!
Why are “Maleficent” from 2014 and “Night at the Museum” Home movies and not “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” from 2014 are not?
In the Crime genre we have an imperative that falls within the scenario. There has to be one or more crimes, or criminality, and this crime, these crimes, this criminality has to be a big issue in the scenario.
The viewer, when going to see a family or crime genre film, has other expectations, but these are optional. It reveals codes of the genre.
Watching a crime film, I think police, charismatic villain, dark film that happens mostly at night, where the characters are lonely and a little disillusioned.
When people talk to me about family films, I think colorful film, light tone and happy ending, creepy antagonist but just right, brave protagonists.
But when you watch “Home Alone” or “The Mask” you realize that his films fall under the Crime genre and do not have at all that atmosphere that I imagine.
Much like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One” or “Coraline” doesn’t tick all the boxes I imagine when I am told a family movie, especially when it comes to the creepy antagonists but not too many!
But the four of them have in common that they respect The indispensable condition which allows them to belong to the family gender.
Finally last detail, the genres are obviously not waterproof. Nothing prevents a film from having a crime theme while including children in its audience:
Indeed a film can belong to several genres: (Image coco de pixar) (genres: Fantasy, family, adventure, musical)
Ten of my favorite genres (not necessarily in order):
Small methodology point:
I use IMDB to provide me with a list of keywords to add them to a table to sort which appear the most and those that appear the least according to each genre.
Finally, I use Letterbox which organizes the films by genre while prioritizing the genres. Thus “Back to the Future” is classified first as a family film, then as an adventure film, then a comedy and finally as a science fiction film. So Back to the future will fit perfectly into the family genre but a little less than “Interstelllar” for science fiction or “The Big Lebowski” for comedy but still partly corresponds to it. Finally not only will I tell you about 10 genres but in addition I will tell you about 5 subgenres for each of them.
I/ Historical Movies:
Tone: Serious Theme: A historic event Scenario: Depends on the event Target: Rather adults
Most common keywords:
Based on true story
What happened in Epilogue
Based on real person
Husband Wife relationship
Based on book
Father Son relationship
World War II
Less common keywords:
Good versus Evil
Falling from height
This is one of the easiest genres to catalog. The facts told must be based on real historical facts. The key word that comes up most often is “based on true history”, but the prerequisite is that it must be based on real historical facts.
In Robbert Eggers’s “The Witch,” is a historical film about colonists who were excommunicated in New England in the 1630s, to whom a whole lot of funny adventures happen. (A whole family dies in misery, resentment, fear and guilt.) But this story is totally fictional, these people never existed.
“Troy” is a historical film when we are not even sure that the Trojan War actually took place.
But his films take place in a context which is based on real historical facts. Conversely, being based on real events is not enough to make a film historic.
“The Social Network” is based on a true story, but is not a historical film. A historical film depicts a state of the world that is no longer today.
“A Beautiful Man”, is a biography of John Forbes Nash, is not tagged as a historical film as it is set between 1947 and 1994.
Whereas “Zero Dark Thirty” which tells the story of the hunt for Bin Laden is a historical film set between 2001 and 2011. The difference is in the subject. “A Beautiful Man” might as well be set in another era. It is not the indirect portrait of a society, but only the story of a man.
The Biopic may or may not belong to the historical genre. As the name suggests a biopic is a biography. The principle is simple, we tell the story of one or more people while more or less romanticizing their lives.
The Biopic may or may not belong to the historical genre. As the name suggests a biopic is a biography. The principle is simple, we tell the story of one or more people while more or less romanticizing their lives.
A sub-genre that is close to documentary, while remaining a work of fiction.
War movies may not have the historical aspects of the conflicts in question, like Disney’s “Mulan” is a war movie without being a historical movie. Often war films are categorized as a genre in their own right.
Genre responding to strict rules, his films must take place in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, in which a courageous character, almost always male (pity) rebels, sword in hand often against authority. There is often a damsel in distress to save, seduce and / or protect.
II/ Adventure Movies:
Tone: light Theme: Travel, danger, friendship … Scenario: good guys, bad guys, happy ending Target: all public
Most common keywords:
Good Versus Evil
Falling From Height
Less common keywords:
Husband Wife Relationship
Based On True Story
When we talk about adventure films we immediately think of Indiana Jones or Indiana Jones or … But what is an adventure film that is not Indiana Jones? The adventure film shares a great deal of reference with action cinema. If we look at the keywords that come up most often in both cases, we find:
Good versus evil
But if we look at the key words that separate them, we have on the action side elements of violence while on the adventure side, we have elements related to interpersonal relationships and especially “exotic” elements, disorienting. Either things that do not exist like magic or monsters, or places like, a forest, a castle, cave … I deduce that the essential element in the adventure film, is a certain level of disorientation of the viewer but to a lesser extent, the viewer will expect a lighter film, more all public than for any other genre. Some key words that are relatively less present to qualify this kind of film bear witness to this:
Adventure films are generally more consensual, and many recent superhero films are labeled adventure before sci-fi and action. It’s very hard to find a movie that just has the adventure label, but here are a few subgenres that almost always have it.
A protagonist who wields a sword and has a big mouth! You cannot conceive of a Swashbuckler with a pistol or who would face it. We find “Pirates of the Caribbean” or even films of an Asian genre: the Chambara.
These are samurai films, one of his most famous examples of which is “Seven Samurai” by the great Kurosawa.
These are films in which, or more often, the protagonists are on the road. Very American kind, the highways are a metaphor for freedom.
Treasure hunting movies:
Film characterized by fairly obvious elements of the scenario, finding or rediscovering one or more things …
What could be more exotic than imagining the world falling apart?
As long as it’s about pirates, it’s a pirate movie.
III/ Action Movies:
Tone: from very light to very serious Theme: revenge, conflict, violence, gun … Scenario: Good guys, bad guys, bad guys. Target: mostly men.
Most common keywords:
Shot in the chest
Hand to hand combat
Less common keyword:
Mother son relationship
Based on true story
Mother daughter relationship
It is less about action than violence, but violence is not enough to define action cinema. Many horror films are violent without necessarily being action films. The main characteristic of an action film is a fast pace. The spectator must be kept in suspense by the chain of events embodied by a confrontation between two entities.
Super hero movies:
Superhero films that are not action films are extremely rare. Indeed, who says super hero says super villains and super clashes. In these films, the main protagonist possesses extraordinary abilities and uses them to do good.
Martial Art Movies:
The genre includes all karate and kung fu films …
Very Asian genre if there is one, these are fantastic films where a character will suffer a tragic loss and begin an initiatory journey during which he will become a powerful warrior following the path of Xia (the path of the warrior / hero / vigilante) ), with a sword.
Adaptation of video games into film:
You have to believe that the studios believe that gamers can only enjoy action movies. Detective Pikachu: Puzzle Games = Action Movie Final fantasy IIV: Japanese role-playing games = action movie Resident Evil: Survival horror = action movie I’m exaggerating a bit but not by much.
Indispensable condition, it has to be about spies, but the public will more or less expect a James Bond clone with his gadgets, big, very nasty corporations and a nice spy who plays it, over equipped and over trained. that infiltrates their headquarters.
Tone: Serious, heavy
Theme: Murder, mystery, threat, investigation …
Scenario: The outcome is very important
Most common keywords:
Shot to death
Shot in the chest
Less common keywords:
Where action movies hold viewers’ attention with adrenaline, thrillers do so with suspense. Overall you need a heavy atmosphere, the thriller goes with almost all genres but not with comedy, and suspense. But what makes thrillers different from horror movies? In the horror film, the protagonists are overwhelmed by the events there or in the thrillers, the protagonists are more active in overcoming their adventures.
The Psychological Thriller:
In the psychological thriller, the danger is not so much to lose your life as to lose your sanity.
Genre taken from literature, includes all films whose plot is detective. You can group together gangster films and black films.
The movies where the hero finds out that the truth is not as he thinks it is and that anyone could know about it and try to silence him.
Close to science fiction, the plot of these thrillers is based on scientific advances in military or spy circles.
A genre that could also be classified as horror cinema, since it is the precursor of the slasher. Gialli (plural of Giallo) are films where usually several women are murdered by a killer whose identity is unknown to the viewer. It was a very popular genre in the 1970s, and the undisputed master of which was Dario Argento.
V/ Horror Movies:
Tone: dark Theme: Death, anguish, torture, paranormal … Scenario: unhappy end, only one stake: survival Target: Adolescent, adult.
Most common keywords:
Less common keywords:
Hand to hand combat
Based on true story
I often hear people say: “I don’t like horror movies, they don’t scare me. “ Well that’s okay, horror movies aren’t primarily intended to be scary! Otherwise, you wouldn’t classify horror comedies like “Shawn of the dead.” A horror film centers on something that arouses repulsion or anguish.
One person kills there one by one, a group of individuals, until the final confrontation.
These are films that show physical mutilations and often theatrics to make them more impressive.
Sub-genre which relates to the format, these are films that are not presented as productions, but as the event montage actually shot by the protagonists.
The New French Extremism:
These films have sexual assault and extreme violence in common, but they also deal with mental disorders that can go as far as delirium.
Movies about gigantic creatures that attack the city. They are rarely horror movies because humans are often insignificant in them.
A sci-fi movie takes place in another reality and where things are not happening in ours. Science fiction differs from fantasy by providing more or less scientific explanations. In Star Wars, ships, lightsabers and robots are science fiction, but strength is totally related to fantasy.
Epic tales highlighting the relationships between the characters in relatively detailed political universes against a backdrop of space travel.
Nothing to do with the music that smells of beer! They are futuristic or retro-futuristic films (which has to do with a way of imagining the future in the past). Cyber punk a genre where computers and robotics are highlighted, as in “Matrix” or “Ghost in the Shell”, steam punk is a genre where machines and industry are showcased: “Metropolis”, “The city of Lost Children” … Biopunk, the living becomes an omnipresent technology: “eXistenz”, “Gattaca” …
It is a genre of science fiction that only allows itself to extrapolate a future on the basis of solid science. The only fanciful elements are the elements that are new or that we do not know in our reality.
When the explanations given contradict the laws of physics. A lazer saber is impossible because the light is neither solid nor finite (so the sabers could not collide and the blade would have no end.)
In 1980 Michael Weldon published a magazine “Psychotronic Video” in which he spoke about cinema, then in 1983 he released “The Psychotronic Encyvlopedia of Film”. He gives a definition and a list of 3000 films, much of which does not correspond to the definition, but an IMDB user had the delicacy of writing a definition that was both sufficiently vague and precise enough to consider it valid. .
Psychotronic movies can be sci-fi, horror, or fantasy. These are films that think outside the box, that try to break free from conventions. Films that dare to be different: “Videodrome”, “Delicatessen”, “Solaris”.
Tone: Epic, rather light Theme: Magic, courage, nobility, good guys against bad guys … Screenplay: Screenplay in three classic acts Target: everyone
Most common keywords:
Good versus Evil
Lifting someone into the air
Less common keywords:
Shot to death
Based on true story
Shot in the head
Hold at gunpoint
A film that takes place in another reality and where things are happening that are impossible in ours, without justification. Not to be confused with the fantastic, a genre or the supernatural, the strange comes into the real world Also not to be confused with the wonderful, kind or impossible things in the real world is quite normal there, like talking animals, without anyone asking questions. Fantastic or Marvelous are part of Fantasy.
These are books or films that take place in a modern, contemporary world, in an urban setting, in which there are things that shouldn’t be: “Monsters & Cie”, “Detective Pikachu”…
A genre where animals behave like humans.
Swords & Sorcery Movies:
A genre where the hero will face evil sword in hand in violent adventures generally involving magic: “Never ending story”, “Sleeping beauty”, “krull” …
A genre that tells about past events by adding events from the past by adding a supernatural twist: “300”, “Pirates of the Carribean”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” …
Stories that take place in space and have elements approaching fantasy.
A catch-all genre if there is one, the drama genre includes all films that do not fall into any other box, but there is still a definition: “These are films where interpersonal relationships are treated with gravity. “
Alternation of moments of immense happiness and immense moments of distress. “Titanic”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Gone with the Wind” …
A big problematic event happens to the protagonist and he must survive: “The martian”, “The Revenant”, “127 hours”.
A genre that has disappeared a bit today. We talk about Epic when the film is grandiose, the symphonic soundtrack, the wide shots, the immense and magnificent sets… Yes today that describes all the American blockbusters.
A specific sport must be at the center of history. Young characters are lost until they take up sport. Draws at first, they end up facing stronger than them and bringing the cup home.
Coming of age Movies:
It’s about becoming an adult and leaving your childhood behind either: “Spider-man Far From Home”, “Four Hundred Blows”, “Carrie” …
The only genre that to my knowledge does not call for the tone, the theme, the scenario or its target to define itself, but calls for its intention to define itself: to make people laugh.
It exaggerates certain features of an already established work in order to make people laugh.
Fictions that take on the appearance of documentaries to tell anything. “Spinal Tap”, “I’m still here” …
A special category because the intention to make people laugh is not there, but we only look at them for fun. These are films produced alongside the blockbusters but with a derisory budget: “Atlantic Rim”, “Triassic World”, “Transmorphers” …
Two very different characters must come to terms with each other and discover that they can learn a lot from each other and even become friends.
X/ Romantic Movies:
Tone: Variable, often light Theme: Love, marriage, family, couple … Scenario: Misunderstandings and happy ending Target: More women
Most common keywords:
Male female relationship
Less common keywords:
Shot to death
Shot in the chest
Romantic movies are movies where love or romantic relationship is central to the storyline.
Film about love while trying to make people laugh.
Chik Flick Movies:
Romantic film aimed at teenage girls.
Romance with a supernatural creature. “Dracula”, “Ghost”, “Warm Bodies” …
Film which speaks of romance while dealing with death, life after death, ghost with a very heavy atmosphere.
A romance in an epic setting: “Moulin rouge”, “Australia”, “Titanic” …
Well, the real reason why I wrote this article was mainly to talk about as many films as possible that generally made me feel good, sometimes bad, but which I think are in most cases , interesting to see at least once in his life for his film culture. Don’t hesitate to draw from the list, if you don’t know what to watch. 😉
A few weeks ago, I was lucky to win a little film critic writing contest for a magazine. You had to write about what you considered to be the best film of the decade 2010-2020. The winners were published in a booklet and on the publication’s website a few days later in the form of a top 10 films to watch for containment. I thought it might interest you even if the tone is … a little different from what I used to write! ^^ ’ I translated it and voila!
The wonderful thing about genre cinema is that it is infinitely renewed. Because if you tell the synopsis of “Arrival”, a priori, you will have the impression of having already seen this film a thousand times.
“Extraterrestrials arrive on earth but we don’t know what their intentions are… blah blah…”
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Contact”, “2001: a space odyssey”… Yet “Arrival” is a film that was a breath of fresh air for me. An intimate film, with a mesmerizing staging that offers us a grand fable on inter-species communication and I would even say communion, and I am not talking about communion in the religious sense. “Arrival” is a film with a universal, timeless message that falls in almost none of the clichés associated with films of extraterrestrial invasions. And it’s rare enough to be highlighted. I say it right away, it was for me the best film of its last 10 years..
Overnight, mysterious extraterrestrial entities appear on Earth. For the moment, no sign of hostility in sight. Affine to decrypt the language of extraterrestrials to say the least enigmatic, The army calls on a linguist, played by Amie Adams who will try somehow to communicate with her beings of which everything remains to be discovered.
Even if Denis Villeneuve has already accustomed us to obscure films open to interpretation, “Arrival” is not a film which knocks you out with mathematical formulas or theories of quantum physics, as if to prove to you that it is a mature film, which must be taken seriously. Symbolism quickly takes over and the images speak for themselves. This film is poetry. Villeneuve purifies his staging to keep only the essentials, only what serves his purpose. Halfway between a blockbuster and an experimental film, “Arrival” enjoys an atmosphere that oscillates between light and shade. And you feel that disturbing strangeness from the first minutes, which makes it impossible to look away from the screen. I don’t think I have seen such an intoxicating film since Melancholia by Lars von Trier.
I do not intend to make a surgical analysis of this film, which as you can imagine raises a lot of subjects on different themes. I’ll only talk to you about what touched me personally. And it is so rare to have the impression that a film is addressed to us directly.
Because yes the aliens of “Arrival” speak to us, but what are their intentions? Why are they there?
If the film takes its full interest when scientists enter the alien spacecraft, it is through the prism of the staging. In the era of triumphant digital, I think we all agree that even Hollywood studios have little to sell us when it comes to digital creatures, and it’s certainly not with glasses 3d that things will get better. From “Jurassic Park” to “Avatar” or “Terminator 2”, our references are saturated with monsters always more detailed, imposing, always closer to the screen. And if there is one thing that forces my admiration for Denis Villeneuve, it is this knowledge of cinema, that which suggests more than it shows, in order to let our imagination fill the gaps, to keep us captive of its history. “Arrival” is Science Fiction in the noblest sense of the word.
Without speaking about the work on the architecture which is just breathtaking, the artistic direction of this film is in perfect adequacy with its story, and the arrival of its beings appears to each of us in a different way. A spider, an octopus or simply a hand, a member, or simply an ink stain on a screen, the design of its creatures, rests only on abstract forms. This is a great idea that we owe to Denis Villeneuve. As Rorschach tests, it is up to you to decide what you see.
And there is a fine line between what can seem dangerous to you and what you think is very watchful. Everything is ambiguous in this film, until the end you never know how to interpret the actions of your creatures, and in my opinion, that is the main subject of this film. We humans, the dominant species on this planet, we have created empires, civilizations. Master of a technology that is overtaking us, we even walked on the Moon! However, today we are still unable to talk to each other, knowing how to approach each other without going through a balance of power. The character of Louise, will not simply communicate with her aliens, she will transcend her human condition to enter into symbiosis with them. If this film speaks to us well about contact, He does it in the most natural way possible. And this contact, it goes above all through trust. For me the key scene of this film is when Louise decides to take off her jumpsuit in order to show herself to the aliens. If a person is to represent humanity, then above all, he should not be governed by fear.
“Arrival” is a great film about language, both inside and outside of fiction. Like Louise, who never ceases to want to decode the meaning of these “hieroglyphs”, we spectators are also invited to decode each shot. If this film is not very talkative, all the iconic plans, push us to multiply our grids of readings, until the very arrival of the extraterrestrial vessels. If we compare them to the aliens of “Independence Day”, aggressive invaders whose arrival on Earth, literally hides the sun, the aliens of “Arrival” opt for them in a vertical position and above all motionless, silent. They respect our living space. By levitating above the ground, high enough to not crush anything and just ready enough for us to enter. Besides, we can see that the director is Canadian, because even if it can be fun from time to time with directors on the other side of the border, when there is something unidentified in the Heaven immediately war.
Gods, it’s nice to see a filmmaker shift even the code of science fiction cinema to present us with such an ambitious film. Because yes, “Arrival” is one of the most ambitious films of its last years. We are talking about a film that shows us that we can:
So scertainly, we have already seen humans enter into psyche with entities with higher intelligence, to build but in hand a better world. But, if this film is inspired by a large number of references already cult for the most part, it sublimates them. For example as a fan of “2001: a space odyssey”, I simply loved this scene where Louise explains to the army chief, the semantic ambiguity between the weapon and the tool.
Louise Banks: If all I ever gave you was a hammer … Colonel Weber: Everything’s a nail …
What is “Arrival” for me:
“Arrival” is not a film that gets lost on the way. It’s not a film that starts off on a high note and doesn’t really know how to end. It’s a film that arrives at just the right time in a particularly turbulent period in our history when humanity is taking a collective awareness that it is time to question our whole way of life. In the genre of extraterrestrial invasion, “Arrival” represents the film of maturity.
If I had to compare it to another science fiction film, I would take “Contact” by Robert Zemeckis in 1997. Without too much spoiler, we see a young female scientist tempted to decrypt an extraterrestrial signal. So even if the moral and the stakes are ultimately quite distant from Villeneuve’s film, despite all the similarities that are obvious, we hardly noticed that in the film of Zemeckis, the finality of the adventure, the outcome is based only on contact with the aliens. Judy Foster looks at the sky, without worrying too much about what is happening below, while in “Arrival”, if the aliens came of their own will on Earth, it is not only to provoke the meeting, but also and especially to make us understand that before wanting to get in touch with the rest of the universe, it might be time to learn to communicate with each other. It’s not a fluffy outcome, or a particularly optimistic one, because as the film says, if the aliens help us, it’s because they will need our help later. This is not a morality full of good feelings, it is an exchange of good procedure, because in nature, this is how it happens, and frankly, just for that thank you!
I realize that this review may seem a little solemn or pompous, but I’m sorry, I can’t moderate my enthusiasm at such a film. “Arrival” has been admirably received by both critics and the public, and that’s important. These are exactly the kinds of movies that Hollywood should encourage in production. So no, personally, I do not want to see a filmmaker as promising as Villeneuve make suites / reboots / prequels / my ass … To know that my grandchildren will have nothing to do with cinema as “Star Wars episode 89 “And” Terminator 28 “makes me pissed off. It’s a film like “Arrival” that should make the event, and I’m glad that this film has the success it deserves. With that, I wish you a session and a good day and always keep in mind:
“In this universe, we never create anything, we only make this memory. “
With confinement, we had to find a few distractions, so Dad and Grandpa started looking for series on the internet. As at that time I was reading Science Fiction books (well, it’s always the case! ^^ ‘), they wanted to make me discover old series in the same genre, yes Grandpa is definitely a geek (I am proud of him). So I discovered Cosmos 1999, Flash Gordon, Roy Rodgers and others … Wanting to introduce me to Galactica, a 1978 series, they came across its remake version of 2004.
At home we all loved it, even Grandma. We woke up in the morning, a shower and we slumped on the sofa with our cereal bowls, at noon on the TV set and in the evening we were real zombies when we went to bed.
By talking about it with my friends, I learned that it was a must-see cult series, but I admit I have never heard of it. I tell myself that I must not be the only one so I’m going to try to make you want to see this little gem of science fiction from the small screen.
Of course I would be absolutely not objective, you must start to know me now, but above all I will try not to spoil anything so that you can discover it serenely.
History of its creation :
Let’s go back 40 years. Indeed, it is at the beginning of the Sixties that Glen A. Larson, the producer of the series, develops the concept of what was initially called “Adam’s Ark”, taking up the story of the Exodus of Moses and of the Jewish people in search of the promised land, all transposed into a space saga with the Space Opera sauce.
Besides, there is a biblical reference in the name of the commander of the Battlestar Galactica who is called Adama (Adam, Adama you have it?).
Anyway, the Galactica project remained in development for a long time, without ever finding a taker for production, until the unexpected success of a film now almost forgotten by the name of Star Wars in 1977.
Little mind blow : Star Wars => Battlestar …
That’s when Universal Studio pulled Galactica out of the closet in which it had been buried for 17 years, to delight the public in search of new space sagas to discover.
Galactica was born and will give birth 20 years later to Battlestar Galactica.
The speech :
We are talking about a space fleet in search of a new planet to colonize following the destruction of their star system by the Cylons, machines created by a disappeared reptilian people.
It is true that Science Fiction is timeless, but some questions must still be brought up to date, depending on the time and context.
It is for this reason that in 2003, during the remake proposed by Ronald D. Moore, the producer and scriptwriter of this series, many changes were made.
The themes addressed by the remake :
At first, although the concept of space saga is kept within the series, it only becomes a pretext and setting in order to focus on the evolution of the characters and the issues facing them.
What Moore calls “naturalist science fiction” allows juxtaposing smaller dramas within the framework of Space Opera, while borrowing a lot from the military science fiction of the original series.
Our heroes are no longer flawless men, but characters fighting against their own nature. Thus the series makes it possible to tackle themes like addiction (to drugs, alcohol, sex, …), conflicting family relationships, the notion of necessary evil, or even to explore the question of terrorism, highlighting the ethical and moral problems linked to the fight against it.
Besides, this is a theme that we find both on the Cylon side and on the human side, translating in my opinion the consequences left by the September 11 attacks which took place less than two years before the creation of the new series.
In a second step, in order to vectorize the fears linked to many scientific developments, notably biological and computer, Moore held that the Cylons become a very creation of the human being.
The machines rebelled, went into exile, and mutated to become humanoid robots, resembling us in every way, down to the cellular level. These models therefore become inseparable from the humans who initially created them. Thus this new point of view allows us to introduce the very interesting problematic of transhumanism, by repeatedly asking the existential question of the differentiation between humans and machines once the latter are endowed with emotions and experience feelings.
Another interesting change in my opinion is the change of Starbuck into a female character, allowing us to talk about the female condition in such a masculine environment.
The series does not hesitate to refer to History with a capital H. The events of the pilot episode made me think of the flash nomination of Lyndon B. Johnson follows the disappearance of Kennedy in 1963.
But in my opinion what is most interesting is the roundabout way the series takes, under the guise of science fiction, to portray us the development of the political situation in the USA after the September 11 attacks.
I believe that all the worries of this time pass there: from the paranoia of the sleeping terrorist cells, to the fear of the attack of civil liberties, to the suicide attacks, through the use of torture, thus evoking the hidden side of the war against terrorism.
A suspense that keeps us in suspense until the end :
To stick the spectator on his screen until the end, the screenwriters had the brilliant idea of sprinkling the quest of our dear friends with punctual revelation as to the identity of the infiltrated Cylons. What must have been as big a spoiler call at the time as the dead of Game of Thrones!
The qualities presented in this little article, which are not exhaustive, as well as the thinking that surrounds them, have contributed to making Battlestar Galactica an absolute must see for any serious Science Fiction fan. It is a cult work for many enthusiasts, of which I am a part if you still doubt it.
In the current context where flourish remake reboot, rearrangement and other nouns starting with “re”, it feels good to discover a work taking the form of its original material, while digging the background and embellishing it with a point of modern view not devoid of meaning and important philosophical questions.
BSG seems to me to be the perfect counter-example to the famous phrase “it was better before”, in the sense that this remake knew how to develop its own story in a borrowed universe. And if you didn’t already understand it during my last occurrences, watch this series quickly, because after all: