Patema Inverted

Patema Inverted has a strange premise that kept playing with my mind. In this Japanese sci-fi-fi anime, there are two worlds one civilization inhabits the surface of the earth and gravity effects them like it does us. It’s a society that demands conformity and does not allow people to question the status quo. We see this in the robotic school children who ride conveyor belts into their schools and all have the same blank expression on their faces. The only rule breaker is Age (pronounced ah-gay) whose father was an inventor who tried to build a kind of flying machine and when testing it met with dire consequences.

Patema lives underground in the other civilization where gravity works in the other direction. In this artful dystopia, people stand on the ceiling (in terms of our orientation) and things fall up. The two civilizations are off limits to each other. In fact the elders of each just prohibit any inquiry into societies other than their own. One day, Patema sets off exploring as her older friend Lagos has. By accident, she finds herself in Age’s world and the only way she can stay put is to either hold on to Age by the waist, which lifts him off the ground, but prevents her from flying through the sky indefinitely or by standing on a ceiling.

In this totalitarian society, the dictator realizes someone from the other world has entered and most of the film is his evil chase to get Patema and then destroy her people.

The film’s background art was stunning. The concept was interesting, but often melodramatic. The evil leader was just too hokey for me.

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Perelandra

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The second book in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, Perelandra chronicles Edwin Ransom’s journey to Venus, a.k.a. Perelandra. Ransom settled back into life in Cambridge after his trip to Mars. Suddenly, Oyarsa (God) calls on Ransom to go to Perelandra. Excited for more space travel, Ransom accepts the mission.

After his trip in a ship that’s like a frozen coffin. Ransom’s told to travel in the nude and that clothes aren’t needed on Perelandra, a planet with land that moves like waves and the flora is a wide range of vivid colors. I can’t do Lewis’ descriptions justice.

Ransom soon meets the green-skinned Queen, one of the planets two inhabitants. The Queen has the innocence of a child because on the new planet she is one. Perelandra is like Eden with its sole pair of inhabitants, its sole prohibition, i.e. “Don’t sleep on the ‘Fixed Lands'” and its serpent, i.e Weston, Ransom’s nemesis who plays the serpent in this tale.

Maelidil is the creator who teaches the Queen all about life, but he disappears once Ransom arrives. The Queen also never sees the King and the story’s almost over by the time Ransom finds him.

Most stories feature a young, strong hero who lacks wisdom, which he acquires by the end. Here our hero is educated and wise, but lacks the usual brawn. Ransom battles Weston with wits trying to prevent Perelandra’s Fall, but he realizes that one day Weston will wear the Queen down. He figures out that he must beat Weston physically. Thus Lewis takes gives us a middle aged scholar as a hero who must win by a great physical test. How original!

I found the story compelling and clever. Lewis gives us a setting similar to Eden, but not quite. We may expect a certain outcome, but Lewis shows us that things could have been different. Perelandra was a fun read that made me think.

 

12 Days of Christmas Stories, #4

Doctor Who Last Christmas is an outstanding episode, that’s funny, mind-bending, and emotionally satisfying. It delivers smart science-fi that makes you think about our dreams and our dreams within dreams. We see Clara missing her boyfriend Danny, who had died (I haven’t seen that episode. I’m quite behind in my Doctor Who viewing. As usual Peter Capaldi is a frantic, whip smart and yet annoying Doctor, who usually makes a good point when you think about it.

It’s got the gross monstrous villains you expect. The twists and turns that make the plot unpredictable and moments between Clara and Danny and the Doctor and Clara that provide emotion that’s more real than what’s on a lot of television. It does a lot of questioning our dream states that was compelling.

Oh, and Santa, Santa and elves with attitude and smarts feature prominently.

You can find it on Amazon or DVD. Give it a watch!

Jellyfish Eyes

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A mix of animation and live action, Jellyfish Eyes amazed me. It’s the story of Masashi, a Japanese boy whose father died in the tsunami. He moves with his mother to a new town where he befriends an otherworldly creature and soon learns that all the other children have similar strange friends that they control with remote controls and have fight each other whenever their teacher turns her back.

Mashasi’s uncle works at a mysterious lab, which turns out to be run by a nefarious group of evil scientists trying to harness negative energy through children since children’s energy is purest. His uncle opposes the mad scientists, but they ignore his warnings and pleas.

As the movie progresses,a girl befriends Masashi saving him from bullies. The girl’s mother in reaction to the tsunami and following nuclear disaster, has joined a religious cult. Thus the girl, like Masashi must parent herself. The film is unique in that shows children coping with trauma and loss. It has a powerful message of self-sacrifice and pulling together rationally in times of crisis. At the end I was stunned. As the film’s directed towards children it ends happily, but that was uncertain till the last minutes. I thought it was brave and smart to give children a chance to see such a wise, exciting and delightful film.

It offers adults the message of how technocrats and scientists gamble with our safety when they get caught up with an idea or “solution.” It’s such a different film and one old and young (as young as say 10) could enjoy and ponder.

Things to Come

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

H. G. Wells wrote Things to Come (1936) is a wild wide of speculative science fiction. I do wonder what people in 1936 thought of it. The plot revolves around war, never ending war that starts on Christmas in Everytown, UK. The world war drags on and leads to a plague causing civilization to decline. By the 1970s the plague is over but a tyrant obsesses over continuing the fighting. This maniac, dressed in a tattered WWII era uniform which he accessorizes with a barbaric animal skin, bullies and rages mostly against the scientists and aviators in his city. Yet he’s no match for the league of engineers and scientists of Wings over the World who live in a prosperous, sane society where logic and reason rule.

After the Wings over the World defeat the brute and his ragged army, we leap to 2045, where every building is sleek and people dress in Jetson-like attire with the one difference that men wear sleek, short Roman looking skirts or shorts. The head of the government is played by an actor who plays a rational man in 1936, and the emissary of Wings over the World in 1970. He’s the progeny of these earlier men. His personality, regal and scientific, is the same from generation to generation. He’s keen to send his daughter and a young man up into outer space via a high tech canon. A rebel tries to stop this voyage railing that this constant movement to progress is bad for society.

The set is brilliant. In the 1960s and 70s Everytown is falling apart. Every wall is decaying. Not one object is new or in good shape. The tyrant’s coffee pot has lost its handle. People use old cars as carriages drawn by horses. That’s the best metaphor for how the war has impacted society. In the sleek, 2040s era everything’s shiny and sleek. No doubt this set inspired subsequent futuristic films.

Everytown, UK, 2045

Everytown, UK, 2045

Since history didn’t exactly pan out the way Things to Come envisioned. The film amused me more than than anything else. The characters we’re to align with are so earnest in their dire prophecies. Unlike 1984 or The Brave New World, I don’t see any metaphoric parallels in civilization. It’s more of an example of early sci fi than a film with a message for me.

Things to Come

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

H. G. Wells wrote Things to Come (1936) is a wild wide of speculative science fiction. I do wonder what people in 1936 thought of it. The plot revolves around war, never ending war that starts on Christmas in Everytown, UK. The world war drags on and leads to a plague causing civilization to decline. By the 1970s the plague is over but a tyrant obsesses over continuing the fighting. This maniac, dressed in a tattered WWII era uniform which he accessorizes with a barbaric animal skin, bullies and rages mostly against the scientists and aviators in his city. Yet he’s no match for the league of engineers and scientists of Wings over the World who live in a prosperous, sane society where logic and reason rule.

After the Wings over the World defeat the brute and his ragged army, we leap to 2045, where every building is sleek and people dress in Jetson-like attire with the one difference that men wear sleek, short Roman looking skirts or shorts. The head of the government is played by an actor who plays a rational man in 1936, and the emissary of Wings over the World in 1970. He’s the progeny of these earlier men. His personality, regal and scientific, is the same from generation to generation. He’s keen to send his daughter and a young man up into outer space via a high tech canon. A rebel tries to stop this voyage railing that this constant movement to progress is bad for society.

The set is brilliant. In the 1960s and 70s Everytown is falling apart. Every wall is decaying. Not one object is new or in good shape. The tyrant’s coffee pot has lost its handle. People use old cars as carriages drawn by horses. That’s the best metaphor for how the war has impacted society. In the sleek, 2040s era everything’s shiny and sleek. No doubt this set inspired subsequent futuristic films.

Everytown, UK, 2045

Everytown, UK, 2045

Since history didn’t exactly pan out the way Things to Come envisioned. The film amused me more than than anything else. The characters we’re to align with are so earnest in their dire prophecies. Unlike 1984 or The Brave New World, I don’t see any metaphoric parallels in civilization. It’s more of an example of early sci fi than a film with a message for me.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

1The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

My friend Kevin recommended I watch The Day the Earth Stood Still for my classic movie challenge. Though I typically don’t think much of sci fi movies, I gave this one a try and it won me over. Directed by Michael Wise, The Day the Earth Stood Still begins with a cheap-looking spaceship landing on earth in Washington DC. Despite the archaic look of the film, I got pulled in completely. Wise mesmerized me with this very cheap, plain spaceship with its clichéd passengers.

A crowd gathers around the ship and soon Klaatu, the archetypical spaceman emerges. Klaatu’s soon shot and his robot Gort defends his master using laser vision against the army. Klaatu’s taken to the army hospital and observed. Klaatu is played as a very serious, really supercilious figure who’s been given the task of letting the inferior earthlings know that now that they’ve gotten nuclear weapons their squabbling could hurt other planets and these other, higher beings won’t tolerate any activity that can upset their peace. His request to speak with all the world leaders is deflected. Things just don’t work that way on earth.

Klaatu escapes in a stolen business suit and finds a boarding house that will take him in. He befriends Bobby, a boy who’s impressed with Klaatu’s knowledge of science and around novelty. Bobby’s father’s passed away and his mother isn’t so sure about Klaatu, but she’s busy dating her perspective husband so Bobby’s got lots of free time to wander the city and go back to the spaceship with Klaatu. It is all rather hokey, but Klaatu is so smart and so above us. We know he’s right about our wars and “petty squabbles.”

Klaatu gives up on the world leaders and tries to get a renown scientist to organize a big powwow with all the top scientists in the world.

Unfortunately, Bobby’s father-to-be gets jealous of Klaatu and tells the army about him. Soon Klaatu must flee for his life and try to war the world that if we don’t stop our nuclear arms development, the rest of the universe will bake us to a cinder.

There are plenty of amusing quotes, such as:

Reporter: I suppose you are just as scared as the rest of us.
Klaatu: In a different way, perhaps. I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.

George Barley: Why doesn’t the government do something, that’s what I’d like to know.
Mr. Krull: What can they do, they’re only people just like us.
George Barley: People my foot, they’re democrats.

All in all, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a fun movie and its dated aspects just add to the fun.

Fun Fact:

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still won a Golden Globe award in the category of “Best Film to Promote Global Understanding.” Who knew that was a category?
  • When Patricia Neal was making the film, she didn’t think much of it and was surprised to learn that it’s regarded as one of the best sci fi movies to date.