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Filmmakers as Archivists of Science

Chambers, Amy (2018) Filmmakers as Archivists of Science. ARC Magazine, 346. pp. 26-27. ISSN 1745-2120

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Abstract

Science fiction filmmakers often create their own ‘archives’ of science-based materials (articles, newspaper cuttings, interviews with scientists/manufacturers) in order to produce artefacts (e.g. a film) that in turn produces an archive of materials that should be of interest to both cultural and science history/communication scholars. This paper makes specific reference to Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and A Clockwork Orange (1971), and primary research conducted at the National Air and Space Museum (The Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Archives (Margaret Herrick Library, LA, CA), and University of the Arts London. Stanley Kubrick’s now iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey, released a year prior to the moon landing in 1969, explored ideas of alien control over evolution and presented futuristic images of space travel and colonisation, an imagined future that continues to influence scientists and creative practitioners. Science fiction media (film, TV, literature, new media…) should be understood as valuable cultural artefacts that allow historians to analyse and interpret the era of production/dissemination, and the way in which ideas about science and society are communicated to historic and contemporary audiences. This paper explores how filmmakers have sought out their own science advisors and collated publically and privately held documents about emergent/future scientific advancements and procedures to give their science fiction works ‘scientific’ legitimacy and thus increased ‘believability’ (and often popularity).

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