October 28, 2021

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

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From Star Child to Star Wars: American Science (fiction), Film, and Religion, 1967-1977

18 March, 2015 @ 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm


Science-based narrative films made between c.1967-1977 dealt with the consequences of a mishandling of both natural and scientific resources. They created critical dystopias that suggested science-based causes rather than simply imagining disasters. Immediate post-censorship/post-classical Hollywood movies used science as more than a narrative catalyst thus positioning science as a central element. This permitted an exploration of issues relating to scientific advancements and how these affected perceptions of humanity and its fictionalised role as protectors and more often destroyers of the Earth and its inhabitants. My research explores the production, dissemination, and reception of post-classical Hollywood science-based narratives and investigates how mainline Christian groups, religious discourses, and faith-based rhetoric intersected with this era of genre filmmaking.

Films including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Planet of the Apes (1968), The Omega Man (1971), and Soylent Green (1973) explored issues pertaining to realistic or feasible future-world scientific advancements and engaged with discussions of evolution, reproduction, biomedical experimentation, artificial intelligence, cloning, mutation, genetic engineering, and nuclear technology. Themes that were prohibited or restricted under the religiously constrictive Production Code (c.1934-1968) were now open to discussion on screen in response to, and to extent cashing in on the fears of countercultural America. I will argue that religion and science continued to be intertwined on screen and in American culture despite changes to way in which film was produced and regulated after 1968.

About the speaker: Amy C. Chambers is a research associate at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (CHSTM) at the University of Manchester. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher on a Wellcome Trust funded project that investigates the intersection between bioscience, religion, and entertainment media (principal investigator – Dr David A. Kirby). She recently completed her PhD in contemporary US History and Film Studies, her thesis analysed the use of moving image media as history with science fiction film case studies taken from 1968-1978. Her current work investigates how mainline US religious groups have influenced, responded to or appropriated post-classical Hollywood science-based cinema.

Please email simon.lock@ucl.ac.uk

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18 March, 2015
4:15 pm - 6:00 pm
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