Sci-Fi movies, both classic and modern, share an incredibly devoted fan
base in America and around the world. How each fan defines the genre, however,
can differ greatly and the lines between genres and subgenres are often
blurred. Hard core sci-fi fans would insist that true science fiction is
a speculative examination of science and technology vis-à-vis society.
More often than not, however, sci-fi movies are just as likely to incorporate
non-traditional elements such as fantasy, the supernatural, and the occult
into their storylines.
The Early Years
The first science fiction movie made was a silent short film, A Trip to the
Moon, released in 1902. This film and other silent movies of the era gave
the movie-going audience its first taste of the sci-fi film genre. Among
the first sci-fi films of this era to use sound were: Frankenstein (1931),
The Invisible Man (1933), King Kong (1933), Flash Gordon (1936) and Buck
The 1950s and 1960s
The production of sci-fi films exploded in the 1950s. In fact, more sci-fi
movies were produced during this era than in any other, before or since.
The Cold War, atomic obsession, and fears of invasion that preoccupied much
of the world informed the movie themes of the time. Some examples of classic
1950s sci-fi films are: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Red Planet
Mars (1952), War of the Worlds (1953), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954),
Godzilla (1956) and Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959). The themes
of the 1950s continued on into the next decade with films such as: The Time
Machine (1960), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Planet of the Apes (1967) and 2001:
A Space Odyssey (1968).
In the 1970s, many sci-fi movies reflected a growing concern with the environment
and questions about the future of the planet. Examples are: The Andromeda
Strain (1971), Silent Running (1972), and Logan's Run (1976). The 1970s also
saw the release of two blockbuster sci-fi movies, Close Encounter of the
Third Kind (1977) and Star Wars (1977). Both of these films featured friendly
aliens and considered the possibility of a future for humans in space. Alien,
released in 1979, showed a not-so-friendly look at what contact with aliens
may hold for the human race.
The 1980s and 1990s
The sci-fi flicks of the 1980s and the 1990s saw incredible developments in
special effects. The themes of the previous decades remained similar, but
the presentation became more realistic and sophisticated. Major sci-fi films
of these decades are: Star Trek (1980), Blade Runner (1982), E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial
(1982), Terminator (1984), Jurassic Park (1993), Independence Day (1996),
Contact (1997) and Deep Impact (1998).