[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ny fans of old school science fiction (and science in general) might wish to get themselves over to Greenwich this summer for the Royal Observatory’s ‘Alien Season’. Screening in the picturesque Peter Harrison Planetarium over the coming months will be three films featuring aliens, each followed by a talk concerning the themes of the film.
The first of these screenings, on June 20th, will be Byron Haskin’s Oscar-winning 1953 classic The War of the Worlds, based on the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells. The film centres on an alien invasion of Earth, but also features strong themes of paranoia and nuclear destruction, reflecting fear of the Cold War which was prevalent at the time of the film’s production. The screening will be followed by a talk concerning representations of alien invasion, and also the intriguing question of whether or not aliens are likely to be friendly or hostile towards humans.
On July 18th, the Observatory will screen It Came from Outer Space written by science fiction powerhouse Ray Bradbury, also released in 1953 and also concerned with issues of fear and paranoia relating to the Cold War. This time round, the peaceful aliens crash land on Earth and are trying to repair their ship before they are discovered by humans. The talk following the film will concentrate on what aliens might think about humans, and where aliens might actually be, if they do exist.
This Island Earth, the final film of the Alien Season, will screen on August 15th. In this 1955 film, Earth’s best and brightest minds are abducted in order to assist with an interplanetary war. The talk will be concerned with the film’s portrayal of alien technology and how it reflects attitudes in the 1950s, and also how our attitudes have changed since then.
This season sounds like an amazing opportunity to catch some great 1950s science fiction in the wonderfully appropriate setting of the Peter Harrison Planetarium, and with ticket prices at only £7.00 for adults and £5.00 for children and concessions, what are we waiting for? See you at the observatory this summer for some vintage alien action. Check out the Royal Museums Greenwich website to book your tickets.