Tuesday, 1 July 2014

5 Science Fiction Scenes Better Than Rose's Departure

Okay, with the Doctor Who ones out of the way, now we move onto the rest of those from science fiction. As you read this, just remember that all of these were passed over, some ignored entirely, in favour of a brief scene which isn't even considered that noteworthy within its own franchise. Is there any memorable, iconic lines? Is are there any truly monumental changes to their characterisation? Are there any weighty subjects being covered? No, none of this, yet it somehow beat out everything. The power of shippers is even greater than people give it credit, I guess.

So, without further ado here's five scenes from science fiction which deserve praise over Rose leaving the show at long last.

5. Data Lives

Often cited as the first truly great episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Measure of a Man was the first to really examine what Data's presence in Starfleet meant. The episode confronted the idea that Data could be viewed as property rather than a person, and that he could be taken to pieces and examined without question. With Riker forced to serve as prosecution and Picard serving in his defence, almost the entire episode was devoted to the trials and conversations.

Impressively, while the actual scientist wanting to dissect Data is self centered beyond words, the episode is surprisingly balanced. It introduces certain reasons for why Data might legitimately need to be taken apart, examined and eventually replicated for the greater benefit of all, and ends on a surprisingly amiable note. The scene which needs to be singled out here however is where Picard successfully argue's Data's rights as a person. Riker has effectively proven that Data is undoubtedly artificial, and can be easily regarded as property, rejecting Picard's initial attempts completely. As a result, Picard moves onto more metaphysical subjects and the events of Data's life to prove he is truly a person.

While there are certainly enough great moments, episodes and details to fill out this entire list from Trek, this is the one which represents the series at its best.

4. Beyond The Infinite

Even in a film of iconic scenes, the ending to 2001: A Space Odyssey has stood out as something truly memorable. Departing his vessel to investigate the monolith in orbit around Jupiter, Dave Bowman is pulled into a coloured tunnel of light by the mysterious object, dragged beyond time and space. Witnessing strange landscapes and cosmological phenomena, he soon witnesses an aged version of himself touching the monolith one final time before being reborn as a new being orbiting above the earth.

What makes this scene so truly memorable is how much of it is delivered without dialogue of any kind, exclusively using visual storytelling and imagery to convey the scene and its meanings. What it ultimately shows the audience is Bowman's transformation and rebirth into a new being, shedding his former self and being turned into something entirely new. 

While this was conveyed in the novel via lengthy descriptions, exposition and the thoughts of Bowman himself, here we see it being presented in a far more subjective light. The exact nature, meaning and connotations of the imagery mean that while the weighty subject matter remains, there is far more for people to individually examine and understand for themselves. The scene above this image, the meanings of Bowman's surroundings and the positioning of the monolith, are things I have personally heard analysed in a dozen different ways.

3. "I am your father."

Quoted, parodied and appreciated time and time again, there are far scenes in Star Wars better known than the twist reveal of the second film. After a grueling battle between Luke and Vader throughout the innards of Cloud City, Luke is finally bested and on the edge of death. Only then does he learn the true identity of the man fighting him.

While subtle hints had been laced throughout the Empire Strikes Back, you only really see them after this scene is shown to the audience. It takes Luke to his lowest point and then truly twists his world view entirely, completely changing the nature of the enemy he faces, giving them an angle to emotionally exploit. Atop of this however, the scene also represents the death of Luke as he was until that point in the trilogy, willingly sacrificing himself rather than be captured by Vader. When we next see him, he is a far more controlled, focused and mature individual, more akin to a Jedi than the Rebel him ever been.

This is also to say nothing of the music and delivery of this scene, which greatly helped to make it such a powerful moment within the film.

2. The Birth of Batman

Another effective metaphorical death of a character came about in one of the most underrated superhero films to date, Mask of the Phantasm. Adapted from the popular animated series of the 90s, the film closely examined Bruce Wayne's path to vigilantism and depicted flashbacks to his early life. Most interestingly, it showed just how easily he could have turned away and become a normal man after meeting and falling in love with Andrea Beaumont.

The film shows Bruce conflicted over his decision, to the point to apologising in front of his parents' graves, torn between the promise he made and an opportunity for genuine happiness. Then the decision is made for him. After sending a wedding wing and marriage proposal to Andrea, Bruce is shocked to see it returned and his offer rejected, with the claim she "needs time." Disappointed and dejected, he turns completely over to becoming the dark knight. The film transitions to the newly established Batcave where he is donning his costume for the first time, and heads off into the night to face Gotham's criminal underworld. 

To quote writer Michael Reaves himself "When Bruce puts on the mask for the first time, and Alfred says 'My God!' he's reacting in horror, because he's watching this man he's helped raise from childhood, this man who has let the desire for vengeance and retribution consume his life, at last embrace the unspeakable."

1. Tears In The Rain

And now for the big one.

Of all the speeches, quotes and lines of science fiction, few have stood out more than the Tears in the Rain monologue delivered at Blade Runner's conclusion. Facing death, with his life finally ticking down to its last seconds, the replicant Roy Batty opts to save Deckard, the protagonist, changing his decision at the last second from killing him. Kneeling next to the astonished and exhausted Deckard, Roy makes one final speech to him of life and death:

The exact meaning of the speech has gone back and forth many times. Some argue that it is Roy establishing that, despite being artificial human, he has experience far more than anyone on Earth ever could. To others it's how he has experienced horrors, wars and sights unbelievable to humans, but with no record of that it is ultimately meaningless. Some think that his final line "like tears in the rain" are a comment upon how countless such memories, moments and experiences are lost  at every second with another death. What is clear however is the effectiveness of its delivery and the subjects it touches upon are what make it truly stand out. This is without getting into the Christian iconography of the scene, which could have entire books written about it.

Actor Rutger Hauer himself would later comment that it was Roy attempting to "make his mark on existence ... the replicant in the final scene, by dying, shows Deckard what a real man is made of." Understandable as one final act to prove his superiority over basic humans.

So, those are five scenes which are better than the supposedly "Best Scene In All Of Sci-Fi" thanks to themes, content delivery and their meaning to the plot. If you have a few more to add or disagree with any of them please feel free to say so in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment