You know the movie "The Hunger Games" – that violent, post-apocalyptic take on Coal-Miner’s Daughter based on the young adult science fiction novel by Suzanne Collins. But please read Alyssa Rosenberg’s post over at Think Progress about two new projects with climate change themes. And be sure to read Jim Laughter's new novel titled POLAR CITY RED, a sci fi book set in 2076 in Alaska. It would make a great movie, too.
First up is J.J. Abrams' ''Revolution'', which was just picked up by NBC TV. Described as a new “high octane action drama . . . following a group of characters struggling to survive and reunite with loved ones in a world where all forms of energy have mysteriously ceased to exist.”
An early PR logline for ''Revolution'' describes it like this, “In this epic adventure thriller, a family struggles to reunite in a post-apocalyptic American landscape: a world of empty cities, local militias and heroic freedom fighters, where every single piece of technology – computers, planes, cars, phones, even lights – has mysteriously blacked out . . . forever.” Hmm. Sounds a little like ''Lost'' meets Cormac McCarthy’s ''The Road''. Jim Laughter's POLAR CITY RED is like this, although his book is more like MAD MAX meets THE ROAD.
Another project is ''Snow Piercer'', an indie science-fiction flick set to star Tilda Swinton and Octavia Spencer. According to The Hollywood Reporter, ''Snow Piercer', is set in “a future where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the ''Snow Piercer'', a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. A class system evolves on the train but a revolution brews.”
Interesting that this is another “global warming ends in an Ice Age” movie – the previous one being ''The Day After Tomorrow'' released in 2004. I guess, psychologically, ''Ice Ages'' must resonate as more unpleasant to the reptilian part of our brain. Oh, and as for that “sacred” perpetual-motion machine, we already have two – they’re called the sun and the wind.
Of course, movies with science and climate themes can be tough to tell. Back in a 1999 essay in the journal ''Science'', Michael Crichton cautioned scientists that “showing the scientific method presents genuine problems in film storytelling. The problems are insoluble. The best you will ever get is a kind of caricature of the scientific process.”
I’d like to think that our best storytellers, like Jim Laughter in POLAR CITY RED, are able to show complexity without falling back on caricature. After all, at the heart of scientific discovery sits fundamental questions about how we might live together on this increasingly crowded planet without destroying it in the process.
In any event, maybe the people working on these projects will connect with scientists via groups like The Science & Entertainment Exchange – a program of the National Academy of Sciences that “connects entertainment industry professionals with top scientists and engineers to create a synergy between accurate science and engaging storylines in both film and TV programming.”
Here’s to seeing some science (fiction) on the big screen . . . and the little one, too! And just wait: POLAR CITY RED may very well be coming to a theater near you, in 2020 or so. Meanwhile, read the book. You will never quite see the world the same way again. Jim Laughter's that good!