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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science Fiction > Compilation > A Century Of Science Fiction

A Century Of Science Fiction


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Program: B



Christopher Lee hosts the 1996 program A Century of Science Fiction, a sometimes mixed but always interesting show that breaks down the Science Fiction genre into sub-topics, all of which are marked by chapters.  They may not always be scholarly, but they are always entertaining.




Aliens – Focuses on the state of the genre in the 1950s and has some great trailer clips, often for films you may not have seen, then jumps to the classic teaser for Ridley Scott’s Alien.  Many greats are missed, but the relation between the two makes sense.


Time Travelers – It begins with the 1960 (and only respectable) Time Machine, then Nicholas Meyer’s 1979 Time After Time.  After some B-movies, we then get Woody Allen’s Sleeper, the Buster Crabbe Buck Rogers, the original Planet Of The Apes, Slaughterhouse Five, and even Back To The Future.


Mad Doctors – Bela Lugosi and several Dr. Moreau films, The Fly films, and David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers fill this section.  It misses its origins in German Expressionism and even Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, but it is good.


Robots and Computers Metropolis, Forbidden Planet, Colossus Of New York, Colossus – The Forbin Project, Terminator, Robocop, Day The Earth Stood Still, Westworld, the infamous and idiotic Short Circuit, and HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Sci-Fi Lunacy – The few highlights include The Amazing Colossal Man, Village Of The Giants, Empire Of The Ants, the 1976 King Kong, and other “works” that live up to the category.  Some laughs.


Lost Worlds – The 1925 silent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Lost World, several Verne/Nemo films, and an amazing amount of schlock fill this one.


Future Worlds – Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Death Race 2000, Judge Dredd, Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451, Richard Fleischer’s Soylent Green, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall, Five, On The Beach, The Road Warrior, Escape From L.A., Waterworld, and other items fill this section.


Weird Worlds – Georges Mélies’ A Trip To The Moon, First Men In The Moon, the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon, the “unique” 1980 remake, Destination Moon, Rocketship X-M, Robinson Crusoe On Mars, Barbarella, Missile To The Moon, Queen Of Outer Space, Abbott & Costello Go To Mars, 2001 (again), Star Wars, Star Crash, Battle Beyond The Stars, the 1936 Things To Come and the wrap-up.


The image is usually full frame, but is occasionally interrupted by letterboxed (or partly letterboxed) footage throughout.  Originating on professional analog videotape of the time, some footage and all the digital graphics tend to show their age, but many clips are not seen often and many of those are in better shape than expected.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is on the monophonic side, but Lee is clear enough.  There are no extras.


Ina recent slap in the face, the conclusion of Lee’s role in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy was unacceptably hacked out of the film by an ever-obnoxious Peter Jackson.  After using Lee to push the first two films, he was abandoned by the third, relegating his conclusion to a footnote on the upcoming expanded DVD set.  How ignorant can you get?  Lee is a legend who brings this program up to a higher level than it would otherwise be, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the whole thing.  It is also why it has survived its age.  You just can’t beat Christopher Lee.  As for Jackson, like Justin Timberlake, he has yet to apologize!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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