Aesthetics of destruction in contemporary science fiction cinema
Warton, John Phillips
MetadataShow full item record
Mass destruction imagery within the science fiction film genre is not a new cinematic development. However, a swell of destruction-centred films has emerged since the proliferation of digital technologies and computer-generated imagery that reflect concerns that extend beyond notions of spectacle. Through illusionistic realism techniques, the aesthetics of mass destruction imagery within science fiction cinema can be seen as appropriating the implied veracity of other film traditions in order to create a baseline of visual credibility, even to the extent of associating its own fantastical fictions with recent historic destruction events. This thesis investigates the representation of mass destruction across the spectrum of contemporary science fiction films emerging from around the world by examining the various methods employed to affect the spectator. The study is divided into four sections: realism, spectacle, sublimity, and correlation. It is structured so as to escalate from the establishment of a baseline of vraisemblance of the spectator’s empirical understanding of the world, to new representations of death and destruction, whereby visual aesthetic correlations emerge between science fiction and historical fact. My study attempts to contribute to the current discourse on science fiction cinema by focusing on the relationship between the aesthetics of realism and spectacle and their impact on spectatorial affect. By re-defining notions of film realism and the cinematic sublime, and through close textual analyses of a number of contemporary science fiction films, the intent of this paper is to present a greater understanding of the complicated inherencies borne by mass destruction spectacle.