I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy.

Network (1976)
written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet

In fact, the apocalypse as male paradise is something you’ll run into again and again in this novel.  Huge swathes of text are given over to lasciviously explaining how, in order to re-populate the earth, men will have to sleep with as many women as possible (whether they like it or not – it’s all for genetic diversity reasons, you see). Using the apocalypse as an excuse to basically legitimise rape, or, at best, polyamory, is all kinds of messed up. There are whole chapters that read like a pervy manifesto or teenage sex fantasy (“they’ll HAVE to have sex with me now”). But it’s stupid in a structural sense too: there are long passages of dialogue explaining why all this would be necessary, but such discussions are taking place only days after the arrival of the blindness/Triffids/plague, when surely the more immediate concerns of finding clean water, shelter and other survivors should be taking precedent over long-term plans for coupling and repopulation?

Apocalypse as Paradise: John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids
Tomcat in the red room blog

ability to do mischief

June 16, 2019

Why give a robot an order to obey orders — why aren’t the original orders enough? Why command a robot not to do harm — wouldn’t it be easier never to command it to do harm in the first place?  Does the universe contain a mysterious force pulling entities toward malevolence, so that a positronic brain must be programmed to withstand it? Do intelligent beings inevitably develop an attitude problem? (…) Now that computers really have become smarter and more powerful, the anxiety has waned. Today’s ubiquitous, networked computers have an unprecedented ability to do mischief should they ever go to the bad. But the only mayhem comes from unpredictable chaos or from human malice in the form of viruses. We no longer worry about electronic serial killers or subversive silicon cabals because we are beginning to appreciate that malevolence — like vision, motor coordination, and common sense — does not come free with computation but has to be programmed in. (…) Aggression, like every other part of human behaviour we take for granted, is a challenging engineering problem!”

Steven Pinker
How the Mind Works

Dune had to be made. But what kind of spaceships to use? Certainly not the degenerate and cold offspring of present-day American automobiles and submarines, the very antithesis of art, usually seen in science fiction films, including 2001. No! I wanted magical entities, vibrating vehicles, like fish that swim and have their being in the mythological deeps of the surrounding ocean. The ‘galactic’ ships of North American technocracy are a mouse-gray insult to the divine, therefore delirious, chaos of the universe. I wanted jewels, machine-animals, soul-mechanisms. Sublime as snow crystals, myriad-faceted fly eyes, butterfly pinions. Not giant refrigerators, transistorised and riveted hulks; bloated with imperialism, pillage, arrogance and eunuchoid science.

Alejandro Jodorowsky
Jodorowsky’s Dune

In December 1974, a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon purchased the film rights to Frank Herbert’s epic 1965 science fiction novel Dune and asked Jodorowsky to direct a film version. Jodorowsky planned to cast the Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, in what would have been his only speaking role as a film actor, in the role of Emperor Shaddam IV. Dalí agreed when Jodorowsky offered to pay him a fee of $100,000 per minute of screen time.[26] He also planned to cast Orson Welles as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen; Welles only agreed when Jodorowsky offered to get his favourite gourmet chef to prepare his meals for him throughout the filming.[27] The book’s protagonist, Paul Atreides, was to be played by Jodorowsky’s son, Brontis Jodorowsky. The music would be composed by Pink Floyd and Magma.[26] Jodorowsky set up a pre-production unit in Paris consisting of Chris Foss, a British artist who designed covers for science fiction publications, Jean Giraud (Moebius), a French illustrator who created and also wrote and drew for Métal Hurlant magazine, and H. R. Giger. Frank Herbert travelled to Europe in 1976 to find that $2 million of the $9.5 million budget had already been spent in pre-production, and that Jodorowsky’s script would result in a 14-hour movie (“It was the size of a phonebook”, Herbert later recalled).[28] Jodorowsky took creative liberties with the source material, but Herbert said that he and Jodorowsky had an amicable relationship. The production for the film collapsed when no film studio could be found willing to fund the movie to Jodorowsky’s terms. The aborted production was chronicled in the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. Subsequently, the rights for filming were sold to Dino de Laurentiis, who employed the American filmmaker David Lynch to direct, creating the film Dune in 1984.

(Wikipedia entry for Alejandro Jodorowsky)


Most science fiction dystopias use custom-made sets to communicate an aesthetically consistent, fantastical and disturbing new reality (Blade Runner, Metropolis, Brazil). But Alphaville was more interested in deriving confusion and anonymity from already-existing places. Establishing shots are rare, and Godard uses abstract imagery, like flashing lights partially cut out of frame, to signal psychological dead ends and spatial breaks. Alan Woolfolk’s essay “Disenchantment and Rebellion in Alphaville,” explains that Alphaville is a rat’s nest of transitory zones: corridors, lobbies, and stairs, all powered by an unaccountable bureaucracy. It even throws our protagonist Lemmy Caution off his game. When asked what he thinks of Alphaville, he says, “It’s not bad, if I knew where I was…” The film is defined by the denial of spatial understanding, not any grand stroke of world-creation.

Zach Mortice
Alphaville is 50: After Modernism Lost its Meaning, it Still had its Looks

I love this film

June 8, 2019

Sinister motives

May 25, 2019

So if an alien child crash landed on Earth (shades of Kal-El from Krypton: aka Superman) with apparent ‘superpowers’ whose sole motivation isn’t to benefit mankind but to dominate and destroy – what then?

today’s film

May 13, 2019

Secret Self

March 19, 2019

Art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self.

Jean-Luc Godard
Les Amis du Cinéma

I wasn’t sure…I didn’t know what I was until about 1952 or ‘53. I knew that I loved very much my roommate at college, where I had had my first lesbian experience. But it wasn’t until I was a camp counsellor in West Virginia that I had the experience that gave me some notion of what my life was about to be all about. I was sitting on a hill…and I was reading a letter from my roommate, the lover of my life, the very first lesbian relationship that I’d ever had. Her parents had taken her off to Scandinavia because they had found out the nature of our relationship. She had written me a goodbye letter, and I was sitting there on Vesper Hill, looking out over the beautiful Greenbrier River, crying like a baby, because I didn’t think there was anybody else in the world like me. I had never heard the word ‘lesbian.’ I had never dreamed that there was anybody else who had any kind of orientation like I did or who loved the way that I did… Suddenly a shadow fell across the paper, and I looked up, hiding the letter, into the face of the camp bugler, a rather butch-looking woman that I had had some questions about. She was standing up there and she was toking on her cigarette… and then she sort of squatted down beside me. And here we were, the two of us, sitting there looking out over the beautiful Greenbrier River. And then she puts her hand on my shoulder, she takes another toke off of the cigarette, and she blows it off and she says, ‘We are growing in numbers every day.’”

Sally Miller Gearhart
Last Call at Maud’s (Film)