Habitually Viewing - January 25 to January 31

NeoWayland allows himself three Netflix rentals a week. That's discipline for a confirmed movie guy.

These "Habitually Viewing" entries are cross posted between Technopagan Yearnings and Pagan Vigil. Film is one of my passions and I'm very eclectic in my tastes.

Torchwood is a spin-off (and anagram) of the rebooted Doctor Who series on the BBC. It's more adult in it's focus, less of the "gee whiz" science, a bit darker and riskier, with a smattering of sex and adult relationships. Characters die, even if they are good guy heros saving the Earth. Series three had one story for the whole season, Children of the Earth.

A bit of backstory. Torchwood was created by Queen Victoria to defend the British Empire from extra-terrestrial threats. It doesn't answer to anyone except itself and perhaps the Crown. Needless to say, it has rocky relationships with the Government, with UNIT (sort of a combined UN military arm) and assorted visitors from "out there."

Captain Jack Harkness is an immortal from the future stranded in the present day. He's already lived the equivalent of several lifetimes.

The plot wasn't original. Alien threat wants Earth's children and can control them from a distance.

No, what made this story interesting is that it took a decidedly anti-government turn. The Prime Minister ordered the destruction of Torchwood to keep it from interfering. Oh, not directly of course. Nothing documented that would lead to the cabinet. And with human civilization on the edge of collapse, all the Government can worry about is how to "spin it." That's a direct quote.

It's worth it just to see what happens to the government machinations and who really is a good man. Long though, it's clocks in at six hours on two DVDs.

And then there was Silent Running. This is "the" environmental SF movie before environmentalism became such a big movement. It has a couple of other firsts too. Cute non-human robots and banged-up tech didn't originate with Star Wars, it started with this film. One of these days I'll tell about the movie that may have inspired Darth Vader, but that is for another entry.

I'd seen this one before, but it's still fun to watch. And aside from the homicidal impulses, Bruce Dern may have captured the perfect essence of a technopagan.

Right down to swimming under a waterfall and wearing a loose robe…

In the story, plant life is extinct on earth. It exists only in dome farms attached to huge space freighters. Dern's character is the botanist aboard one of the ships. The order comes to eject and destroy the farms so the freighters can return to the inner Solar System and be reassigned to other jobs.

This is one of maybe six films prior to Star Wars that influenced the feel of "realistic space films" for almost every film that followed.

A couple of interesting things. Silent Running was a budget film, the company saved a bunch of money but shooting most of the interiors on a decommissioned aircraft carrier. The exteriors were done on a shoestring and still look very impressive by today's standards. And the robots are played by double amputees.

Posted: Tue - February 2, 2010 at 07:39 AM
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