Science Fiction Cinema and the European Union
Lead: Dr. Aidan Power
ZeMKI Lab "Film, Media Art and Popular Culture"
Funded by the Excellence-Initiative of German federal and state governments
Examining select European science fiction films, while analysing key facets of production, this project questions dystopian representations of the European Union in light of prevailing concerns over social, political and economic crises. Long seen as a genre that thrives in moments of political uncertainty, sci-fi frequently displays a fixation on social allegory and has "been instrumental in visualizing" salient modern fears such as "disorientation, powerlessness, fragmentation, disintegration, loss of boundaries, and hybridization" (Claudia Springer, Psycho-cybernetics in Films of the 1990s). As such then, it is ideally placed to comment upon the EU, which is coming through a level of economic, political and social upheaval unseen since the cessation of the Second World War.
Evaluating a broad cross-section of films from a number of European nations, this project charts the film industry’s response to this crisis and comprises both analysis of production considerations and close textual readings of films. With a special focus on sci-fi, the project studies the industry’s reaction to events in the EU, determining how vital factors including production and distribution impact upon its ability to function, react to and comment upon the affairs of contemporary Europe.
Key concerns include evaluations of the sci-fi of different regions, of national and transnational output and patterns of representation of the EU itself from the year 2000 onwards. Additionally, the re-imagination of Europe and its people in dystopian worlds or alternate realities is scrutinised in order to better understand salient social and political concerns amongst "real" populations.
With specific relation to the EU, the project examines discrepancies between centralised and local funding and between the output of ‘marginal’ and ‘core’ countries, identifying how generic tropes of sci-fi are deployed to address distinctly local concerns.