I can clearly recall the day I sat down with my Dad and watched Planet of the Apes for the first time. It was already a classic by the time I was old enough to watch it but I was enthralled by the plot, by the effects and by the idea behind it.
Since then I have been a big fan of sci-fi movies and I enjoy all sorts, from the early classics to the modern blockbusters. Of course, the techniques and the special effects have changed dramatically since then, so I thought it might be worth looking at just how far the genre has advanced since it began.
These were generally short black and white silent films and although they don’t look all that impressive these days you need to remember that we are talking about movies which were filmed about a century ago in some cases.
The 1930s to the 1950s
This was a bit of a golden era for sci-fi films. Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers were some of the classics which appeared in these decades. Again, the effects don’t appear all that amazing to us these days but the genre was beginning to flex its muscles and people lapped it up. Advances in real life science led to a greater interest in science fiction around this time and while a lot of the movies were low budget efforts the amount of fresh ideas around meant that even today a lot of them stand up pretty well.
The 1960s to the 1970s
The 1960s actually saw a bit of a drop in the number of new sci-fi films but there was an increase in the quality and influence of the ones which came out. 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example, set a new standard in terms of the effects and the sheer overwhelming scope of the project. Now we were getting to see films which showed us what space travel could actually be like, instead of rather cartoony effects. Real life space exploration made science fiction films even more appealing and the likes of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened up the genre to eve more fans.
The 1980s to Present
We are now in the truly modern era of sci-fi and the likes of Alien, Star Trek, Terminator and ET brought us even more astonishing effects to marvel over. The introduction of animation effects added a new dimension to these films and Avatar showed us just have far advanced the industry has become. Whatever advances we see in the future are bound to be fascinating, and if the next couple of decades are anything like the previous ones then we are in for some exciting times.
The 3D Generation
The 3D generation has hit not only the cinema but our big tv led displays sat in our living rooms, so now people can get an almost cinema experience in the comfort of their own home,, this doesn’t mean the special effects will change if not it puts pressure on the film studios to keep pace with technology developments.