A trip of peace
The Day the Earth Stood Still


The most famous bit of early science fiction (a more appropriate label might be "science fantasy") is Georges Méliès' Le Voyage dans la lune (1902), the science in question rocket science.  But of course it's not science at all, nor is it fiction; rather it's a kind of magic lantern show that has no pretensions beyond visual trickery.  There have been other early efforts, most notably Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1926), and a few films based on the work of H.G. Welles, the best of which is William Cameron Mendes' Things to Come (1936).  It took the cataclysmic horror of World War II, with its H-bombs and rockets and concomitant paranoia, to give rise to what is now the sci-fi genre. 

By and large, science-fiction films deal with consequences to society (it's them or us) rather than the plight of any one individual.  In horror films, by contrast, our sympathy is directed to the monster (Frankenstein's creation, Kong, Norman Bates); in these films societal concerns draw scant interest.

In choosing the films for this page, I've started with a simple (simplistic?) notion that each film appreciates science, that is, science is at the core of the story.  (I include here not only the physical sciences but also psychiatry and psychology.)  This does not mean that the science is possible--or even plausible--in our terms; but a film's "stance" allows for a scientific explanation and therefore a scientific solution.  Of course things can go amok (Alien, The Fly), and they usually do.  Or our science is comparatively primitive (2001). Or our scientists are just plain dumb (The Thing).  Or we have nasty neighbors (War of the Worlds, Planet of the Apes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) who are out for no good. Or nice ones (Close Encounters, E.T., The Day the Earth Stood Still). The possibilities are endless.  Bon voyage.