"He is an acclaimed commercial director who has pushed through his work to step out of the shadow of his father, Ridley Scott. And now Luke Scott is transcending boundaries in video technology with a visually-arresting 20-minute short film, Loom. Shot in coordination with RED Camera, the sci-fi short features Giovanni Ribisi and Jellybean Howie, although cinematographer Dariusz Wolski just might be its star.
The film follows Ribisi's character Tommy - a lab tech who genetically modifies meat and begins a dangerous at-home experiment he struggles to perfect. It ends with a monologue taken from the conclusion of Darwin's Origin of Species, leaving many of the story's questions left unanswered. 'There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved,' says Howie's character.
Visually, Scott - who directs for his father's production company RSA - gives nod to the filmmaker's 1982 classic Blade Runner, shooting the piece in the tone and style of the dystopian thriller. Constructed for 3D, the piece was crafted to test the limits of the colour range and exposure, allowing viewers to see fine details often lost in dark scenes.
RED initially presented Loom at the 2012 National Association of Broadcasters [NAB] Show this past April. The company has since continued to screen the film, and on Wednesday President Jarred Land released it online via REDUSER, with a disclaimer for cinephiles."
(Jennifer Madison, 31 August 2012, Mail Online)
Fig. 1 published on 28 Aug 2012 by ENTV, YouTube
"What many might consider to be true science fiction began to emerge during the Enlightenment in the early 16th Century as the Western world's understanding of science blossomed. Others identify Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, published in 1818 as the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, as the first true science fiction novel. Today it tends to be seen very much as gothic horror, but it relies heavily on extrapolating then current scientific understanding to extreme fantastical ends."
(Lynne Hardy, 1 August 2011, Celebrating Science)
"This is the story of a man, marked by an image from his childhood. The violent scene that upsets him, and whose meaning he was to grasp only years later, happened on the main jetty at Orly, the Paris airport, sometime before the outbreak of World War III.
Orly, Sunday. Parents used to take their children there to watch the departing planes.
On this particular Sunday, the child whose story we are telling was bound to remember the frozen sun, the setting at the end of the jetty, and a woman's face.
Nothing sorts out memories from ordinary moments. Later on they do claim remembrance when they show their scars. That face he had seen was to be the only peacetime image to survive the war. Had he really seen it? Or had he invented that tender moment to prop up the madness to come?
The sudden roar, the woman's gesture, the crumpling body, and the cries of the crowd on the jetty blurred by fear.
Later, he knew he had seen a man die.
And sometime after came the destruction of Paris. ..."
(Chris Marker, 1962)
Fig.1 [Français] Chris Marker (1962). "La Jetée", Argos Films.
Fig.2 [English] Chris Marker (1962). "La Jetée", Argos Films.
"As he sought collaborators to help him realize his ambitious vision for 'Avatar,' director James Cameron found kindred spirits at Weta Digital, the effects company co-founded by Peter Jackson.
The partnership goes back years, to when Cameron and Jackson met to talk shop after the latter's 'Lord of the Rings' wrapped. Senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri was also at that meeting, and told Cameron about the computer-animation techniques Weta was developing for Jackson's 'King Kong.'
'Jim was interested in what we were doing with 'Kong,' says Letteri, via phone from Weta headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand. 'He knew we were about to embark on something where we had a lead actor who was a digital creation. Plus we were getting into building these big jungles. I think Jim, in the back of his mind, that's the kind of thing he had in his head for 'Avatar.' '
Based upon an original idea that Cameron dreamed up more than a decade ago, 'Avatar,' which opens Friday [December 2009], is set 4.4 light-years away on a moon called Pandora. The moon is home to an alien species known as Na'vi, blue humanoids towering 10 feet. Colonists from Earth can only explore the hostile habitat as avatars -- remote-controlled replicants modelled after the Na'vi.
'The idea is that you're seeing this whole world through new eyes,' explains Letteri, a three-time Oscar-winner. 'It's unfolding before you, the idea that you get to this planet and you think it's this hellhole but as you gradually start to learn what it's all about, you realize that there's this amazing and beautiful but still quite harsh world out there. It seemed like it had all kinds of possibilities.'
Weta was responsible for turning Cameron's sketches of Pandora into 3-D panoramas and also transforming stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana into alien figures convincing enough to carry a love story"
(Lisa Rose/The Star-Ledger, 17 December 2009, NJ.com)
"Science-fiction films tell us as much about the time in which they were made as the future they project and between the two moments – the one specific, the other nominal (1984, 2001, etc) – a sense develops of their qualities of prescience and allegorical vision. The enterprise of proposing a world-to-be is always a hostage to the future's fortune. The law of diminishing returns that applies as regards special effects bears this out. How soon before Matrix-era 'bullet time' looks as dated as Douglas Trumbull's 'star gate' pyrotechnics in 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)? Which may explain why Alphaville hasn't aged as badly as other examples of the genre; it finds its 'special effect' in the specifically cinematic resource of light.
But this light, let's remind ourselves, is the light of the past brought to bear on the presence of the future now. Would it be going too far to suggest that, in adding the dimensions of past and future to the present of 1965, Godard was able to set the controls of his particular time machine to withstand the very test of time? There's no shortage of films that seek to travel in time following Alphaville, from Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) and Mauvais sang (Leos Carax, 1986) to Gattaca (Andrew Niccol, 1997) and Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998). There is also the developing genre of what critic Jonathan Romney has named 'steel and glass cinema' which he describes 'as cinema set in the recognisably contemporary urban world but framed and shot in such a way that it becomes detached, not unreal so much as irreal, bordering on science fiction', examples of which include Elle est des nôtres (She's a Jolly Good Fellow, Seigrid Alnoy, 2002), Demonlover (Olivier Assayas, 2002), Cypher (Vincenzo Natali, 2002) and Code 46 (Michael Winterbottom, 2003). Romney claims Alphaville to be 'the mother' of such cinema and with good reason. In the forty or so years separating Alphaville from Demonlover it has become evident that the no-place of Godard's dystopia, with its labyrinth of corridors and lobbies, was already one big non-place in waiting. The presence of the future that Godard was keen to capture back in 1965 has since taken shape as a global nonplace crossing continents and time-zones. 'It may be that we have already dreamed our dream of the future', J.G. Ballard has mused, 'and have woken with a start into a world of motorways, shopping malls and airport concourses which lie around us like a first instalment of a future that has forgotten to materialize.' Or, to put it another way, Alphaville exists. Everywhere."
(Chris Darke, Vertigo Magazine)
This is an edited extract from Chris Darke’s monograph on J-L Godard’s Alphaville to be published by I.B.Tauris in 2005. Chris Darke is a writer, critic and lecturer on the moving image. His book of selected writings, Light Readings, is published by Wallflower Press. He is also represented, with his film study Chris on Chris, on the DVD of La Jetée and Sans Soleil. See also pages 26 and 38.