First Impressions: “Blade Runner 2049” (Film)

Although I originally hadn’t planned to see “Blade Runner 2049” at the cinema, I had a sudden spontaneous moment of inspiration yesterday and decided to see it.

But, since I’ve only seen it once, this won’t be a full review. No doubt, after I’ve rewatched it at least once more when it comes out on DVD, I’ll have formed a suitably detailed opinion about and understanding of the film to be able to review it fully (although I’m not sure when I’ll post said review). But, I wanted to write about it now too.

So, this is a long, rambling “first impressions” article – based on just one viewing of the film. I’m still forming my opinions about the film, so this article will also help me with this too. It might also explain why this article is such a long ramble as well. This article will also contain a lot of comparisons between this film and the original “Blade Runner”.

“Blade Runner 2049” is a different film to the original “Blade Runner” in many ways. I’m still not entirely sure if it’s as good, better or worse. Although many of my comparisons here will sound negative, this is only because they’re the easiest comparisons to notice. But, even though some parts of this article may sound cynical, “Blade Runner 2049” is a very good film. But it is also a sequel to a perfect film.

This article will contain SPOILERS, but I’ll mostly try to avoid major ones.

Firstly, the story of “Blade Runner 2049” is really good. It’s deep, compelling and confident enough to move at a pace that feels right.

Yes, there are a few elements of the story that I don’t fully understand (I’ve only seen the film once, after all) but it keeps the complexity, humanity and depth of the first “Blade Runner” film. The film’s story also has several plot threads that are left intriguingly ambiguous too, such as a group of replicant rebels that the main character encounters at one point.

Like the original film, this sequel raises more questions than it answers. Interestingly, the film’s conclusion focuses entirely on a powerful moment of human drama, with the after-effects of both this moment and the greater significance of the film’s events left unshown – kind of like in the director’s cut of the original “Blade Runner”. So, it’s good to see that the film doesn’t spell literally everything out, and still leaves a lot to the imagination.

This film is actually a lot slower-paced than the original “Blade Runner”. Although there are some frenetic moments, most of the film has a surprisingly slow and contemplative tone to it. But, even though the film feels longer than it’s gargantuan 163 minute running time, this actually works in the film’s favour, since it almost feels like a TV mini series.

There are lots of lingering close-ups, silent moments and slow conversations. Whilst this is in keeping with the original “Blade Runner”, that film tended to use these kinds of moments slightly more sparingly in order to give each one a greater level of dramatic significance. By contrast, the cumulative effect of all of the many “slow” moments in “Blade Runner 2049” is to give the film a more intimate, artistic and human tone. This also makes the film feel more modern too.

The atmosphere of the film is very different to that of the original “Blade Runner” too. Although I still can’t think of a way to articulate this fully, it feels very different in many ways.

One example of this is how the city in “Blade Runner 2049” feels like a much sleazier and more vicious place (eg: nude holograms, high street brothels, anti-replicant graffiti, sweatshops, utilitarian architecture etc..) than the coldly indifferent, but warmly old, city in the original “Blade Runner”.

One interesting thing about the film is that the location design feels a lot more spartan than the intricately cluttered locations of the original “Blade Runner”. Although it is really awesome that this film reveals a lot more of the “world” of Blade Runner, it feels like all of this extra breadth sometimes comes at the expense of depth. The smaller number of locations in the original “Blade Runner” (due to the budget limitations) left a lot to the imagination and allowed for a much more focused aesthetic and atmosphere.

The set design in this film often feels a lot more spartan, post-apocalyptic and utilitarian when compared to the complex aesthetic of the original film.

Yes, there are still beautifully bleak cyberpunk cityscapes (including the Tyrell building 🙂 ), a kipple-filled “old future”-style casino (where Deckard now lives), some 1960s/70s style brutalist architecture and some interesting use of orange mist. But, on the whole, the film feels like a more minimalist “Blade Runner”, grounded more in post-apocalyptic realism than in awe-inspiring visions of the future.

A good example of this is Officer K’s apartment. Although the kitchen looks a little bit like the kitchen from Deckard’s apartment (and there are a few wall tiles that are similar to Deckard’s apartment), it is a rather stark, cramped and featureless apartment.

The bare walls are a cold shade of grey/blue, and the room feels cramped rather than cosy. Again, this might reflect the fact that Officer K is clearly a replicant. A fact emphasised by the fact that the only company he has in his apartment is a hologram.

But, saying all of this, the film’s stark location designs also serve as something of a blank canvas that places a much greater degree of emphasis on the characters and the story than on the world of the film. So, I can understand this creative decision – and, from this perspective, it works fairly well. This film is a lot more story-focused than the original “Blade Runner” was.

“Blade Runner 2049″‘s depictions of violence are both in keeping with and different from the original “Blade Runner”. One of the central themes of the original “Blade Runner” is that violence is almost always presented as slow, painful and ugly. It is meant to be shocking and aversive, rather than slick or thrilling. Whilst “Blade Runner 2049” stays true to this philosophy in many scenes, the violence in the film sometimes has a cruel quickness to it that sometimes feels a little bit too slick (but, other times, brilliantly emphasises the cruelty of certain characters).

Surprisingly, although I’ve been comparing this film to the original quite a lot, there are some interesting connections between the two films.

Deckard (who probably isn’t a replicant) actually makes a few appearances later in the film. However, the events between the first film and the sequel have turned him into a grumpy, bitter, paranoid old man who seems like a tragic shadow of his former self.

Likewise, the scene with Deckard, Wallace and a clone of Rachel is unsettling and shocking – but the dramatic value of this scene is left somewhat understated.

But, on a lighter note, the scene when Officer K visits Gaff in an old folks’ home is a pretty cool scene (with Gaff even making an origami sheep, perhaps as a reference to “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep”). Plus, one central object in this film is a small wooden horse that Officer K finds – which is a rather interesting parallel to the unicorn from the original “Blade Runner”.

Officer K is a really interesting protagonist. He’s a replicant Blade Runner, who knows that he is a replicant. This has a huge effect on the style, tone and narrative of the film. Although the film briefly shows him encountering anti-replicant bigotry during a few early scenes, his replicant nature is often a much more subtle and understated part of the film.

As a character, he’s also shown to be something of a blank slate too – often being something of a nice guy who is also brooding and tough. His curiosity, artificial memories and quest for self-understanding is also one of the main driving forces of the film.

The film’s main villain, Niander Wallace, really doesn’t get enough screen time. Yes, he’s meant to be an evil version of Eldon Tyrell, but he only appears in a couple of scenes – which kind of makes him seem a bit more like a cartoonish villain. An evil hipster with a god complex, a sadistic personality and a love of slavery. Yes, there’s something to be said for leaving his character slightly more mysterious. But it is interesting how he stands in contrast to the more paternalistic, but seemingly benevolent, character of Eldon Tyrell.

The film’s police chief is both similar and different to Bryant from the original film. Although she’s a lot more professional than Bryant, there’s a paranoid bleakness to her character which fits in really well with the atmosphere of the film. She mostly treats Officer K as an equal, even helping him escape from scrutiny at one point. But, she’s also something of a complex character since, during one drunken conversation, she almost seems to view Officer K as a novelty or a machine when asking about his memories.

A more interesting parallel between the old and the new film is how the film’s artificial memory designer seems to be a lot like J.F. Sebastian. The memory designer is ridiculously talented but, due to an auto-immune disease, she cannot leave Earth and also has to live in a futuristic glass bubble that is reminscent of the holodeck from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. As a character, she’s really interesting (and I’d love to talk about her more), but she really doesn’t get enough screen time.

As you would expect, the film has a lot of rather interesting themes and motifs that can’t be fully deciphered on a first viewing. For example, there’s probably some significance to the fact that one character is called Joi and another is called Luv.

Joi is shown to be a companion hologram who is designed to please her owner (and she goes from being a 1950s-style housewife who makes holographic food for Officer K near the beginning of the film to being the kind of brave co-investigator/companion that Officer K needs during later parts of the film).

Luv is shown to be a coldly cruel and sociopathic replicant who seems to be completely devoid of all love or emotion (other than perhaps anger or fanatical loyalty to Wallace). On a side note, she’s also something of an “evil detective” character, who contrasts perfectly with Officer K in this regard.

There are lots of interesting comparisons to make between Joi and Luv, but one is that they both represent opposite extremes of the concept of obedience (which links in to the themes of slavery, exploitation etc.. in the film). Joi is willing to risk her life for Officer K, and Luv is willing to kill if it furthers Wallace’s objectives.

There’s probably a lot more parallels and thematic stuff going on in this film but, again, I’ve only seen the film once. Hence the limited number of examples here.

Musically, the film is interesting – containing things as diverse as loud dramatic music, Elvis music and even a rather dramatic use of the “tears in rain” music from the original film. However, although the music fits the film reasonably well, it doesn’t quite have the consistency of Vangelis’ soundtrack to the original “Blade Runner”.

All in all, I’m still forming my opinions about this film. It’s a very good film. It’s a work of art. But it is also very different to the original “Blade Runner” in terms of characters, themes, atmosphere, visual design, pacing etc.. too.

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“Another Time” By C. A. Brown (Halloween 2017 Sci-Fi Stories #9)

Stay tuned for the final short story tomorrow night 🙂

Time travel is a one-way trip, or at least that’s what received wisdom tells us. My colleague, Dr.Yelport, had other ideas though.

Although her lab door was always locked, it was pretty obvious that her experiments didn’t involve the near-light speed travel that classical scientists like Einstein had suggested were required for altering the passage of time.

Occasionally, you’d get a sign that something was going on in there. The frosted glass windows in the door would occasionally flicker bright blue or the cleaners would whisper about some kind of mysterious bleeping sound when they were mopping the corridors at night.

Once, the entire building trembled and shook. Our in-house seismologist had been quick to dismiss it as the results of an illegal hydraulic drilling operation somewhere within a three-mile radius. He’d even gone so far as to report it to the police. But, there was nothing in the papers about it, and public radio was oddly silent about the matter.

Over time, Dr.Yelport’s appearances in the staff canteen became less and less frequent. Although she looked more and more dishevelled every time I happened to spot her in the corner, there was no denying that there was something in her eyes. A keen brightness that hadn’t been there when she’d first pulled me to one side and muttered wearily about how the only real funding left was for temporal research.

One day, curiosity got the better of me. Getting an extra cup of tea, I sat at her usual table in the corner and waited. My algae cultures were in a dormant phase, so it wasn’t like I’d have to rush back to the lab or anything like that.

I was halfway through the second cup when she showed up. After filling a metal tray with food, she shambled over to the table like one of the robots on the ground floor. With a flash of her keen eyes and a wonky smile, she said: ‘Emily, your timing is perfect.

Did you travel into the future and see me here?‘ I laughed ‘Am I talking to a version of you from two weeks ago?

Dr. Yelport let out a crackly chuckle: ‘It’s theoretically possible, but no. Still, I wouldn’t rule it out. I’m nearly finished – in fact, I’ll be running the first full test tonight.

Oh, wow. Can I watch?‘ I finished my tea.

Dr.Yelport ate in silence for a few seconds, before sighing: ‘I wish you could. I really do. But, it’s all a bit hush-hush. I’ve probably said too much already.

Military contract?‘ I said.

She sighed lightly: ‘I can’t say. But, you should really apply for a temporal research grant. Your talents are wasted on that algae. Let’s just say that I never have to look at the expiry dates on petri dishes or anything like that.

I’ll think about it. But, good luck with your test… unless, of course, you’ve already done it and I’m talking to you from the future.

Dr. Yelport smiled at me before glancing at her watch. ‘I’m afraid not. Anyway, I should be getting back to the lab. Tempus fugit, and all that. I’ll see you.. in the future.

Leaving her meal unfinished, she got up and waved goodbye. I waved back. She scurried out of the canteen. I looked at my own watch, I was already late for the next status report on culture seven.

When I arrived at the facility the next morning, the doors of Dr.Yelport’s lab were wide open. Nervously, I poked my head inside. The sharp smell of disinfectant caught my nostrils as I stared at the bare shelves and the deserted desks.

Barely even thinking about it, I rushed to the canteen and made a beeline for the table in the corner. Dr. Yelport sat in front of a steaming cup of coffee. The spark had vanished from her eyes. Nervously, I said: ‘I just saw your lab. What… what happened?

With a heavy sigh, she turned to me. ‘I scrapped it. Put my notes in the furnace. Dismantled the equipment and sent it back to stores. Scrubbed all traces from every surface. They aren’t expecting a report for another two days. I’ve still got enough grant money for a ticket out of here. You should go too.

Why? What happened?‘ I stuttered.

Staring blankly into space, she just said: ‘It worked. I saw the future.

Today’s Art (29th October 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the ninth page of this year’s Halloween comic 🙂 Stay tuned for the next page tomorrow 🙂 In the meantime, you can catch up on previous pages here: Cover, Page One, Page Two, Page Three, Page Four, Page Five, Page Six, Page Seven, Page Eight

Unlike previous Halloween comics, this one will hopefully be in full colour and I’ll be using the ‘rectangular’ format that I used in my previous webcomic mini series. But, unlike that mini series, this one will be a narrative comic, like last year’s Halloween comic. More comics featuring these characters can be found here.

…And, yes, the glowing portal/sigil thing on the wall in the third panel was originally supposed to be red (it was meant to be a “Silent Hill 3” reference) but I ended up digitally changing it to green instead, so it would stand out better against the purple background.


As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Video Nasty - Page 9" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Video Nasty – Page 9” By C. A. Brown

Three Practical Reasons To Look At Old Art If You’re An Artist

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A while before I wrote this article, I happened to watch a documentary on TV about the history of art in France. One of the interesting things was that I didn’t really learn that much that I didn’t already know. This was mostly because, during 2014, I went through a phase where I was fascinated by old European and Japanese art and ended up doing a lot of online research about it.

Yet, a year or two before that, I wouldn’t have seen the point of learning anything about old art. It seemed like a pompous and pretentious subject that had no relevance to the cartoons that I was drawing every day.

In fact, the only reason I even got interested in the subject was because I realised that most old (19th century and earlier) artwork is out of copyright (excluding, for example, Matisse’s paintings. Which are still copyrighted in Europe), so, I could just paint a copy of any interesting-looking old paintings or drawings I found online when I felt uninspired and needed something for one of my daily art posts.

And, to my surprise, there were lots of interesting-looking paintings and drawings from the 19th century and earlier. But, whilst most of the influences on my own art style are more modern, there are good reasons to take an interest in old art too. Here are three of them:

1) Modern stuff is inspired by old stuff: Chances are, if you see something that looks cool in more recent artwork, then there’s something at least vaguely similar from the past that has inspired or influenced it in some way.

For example, modern manga art styles are at least slightly influenced by the minimalist Japanese Ukiyo-e print tradition of the 18th/19th century. Likewise, “classic” British and American comic book art is heavily inspired by Art Nouveau(by artists like Pamela Colman Smith, Eugene Grasset etc..) that were popular in the 1890s-1910s. These styles were, in turn, probably also influenced by Ukiyo-E art.

Likewise, the wonderfully gloomy lighting style that is used in films like “Blade Runner” and on the covers of many classic heavy metal albums and horror novels of the 1980s/90s isn’t as “new” as it might seem. In fact, it’s just a more modern version of a centuries-old art style called Tenebrism and, if you see a few paintings by Caravaggio, you might be surprised at how “modern” some of the lighting in these pictures looks.

So, if you want to learn more about the really cool modern art styles that inspire you, then it can often be useful to go back to the older things that influenced them. Not only will this give you more influences on your own art (and the more you have, the more unique your art looks) but it will also give you a greater understanding of how your favourite types of art “work”.

2) It’ll show you that it’s ok to take inspiration: As well as copying out-of-copyright paintings, looking at old art can also be a great way to learn how to take inspiration in proper (eg: non-copying) ways. This is mostly because there has been a lot of research into what inspired a lot of old artists, and very few of them produced wholly “original” and “new” artwork.

For example, Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting style was at least partially influenced by Japanese art prints that had made their way to Europe during the 19th century.

Likewise, when you see artistic “traditions” in the past where lots of artists use a similar style (eg: like how Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi often used a very dark and tenebristic style), then this is both an example of artists taking influence from other artists and artists finding their own interpretation of a pre-existing style because they think that it looks cool.

3) Visual storytelling: For most of human history, if you wanted to record an image of something, then you had to draw or paint it. What this means is that a lot of old art tends to be about storytelling, recording interesting scenes for posterity or making mundane events look interesting. Old paintings are also brilliant examples of how imagination and reality can be blended in interesting ways. This all means is that old art usually tends to be a lot more visually-interesting than you might think.

Like with the panels of a modern comic, old artists often had to tell a story using pictures. They had to create artwork that distilled an interesting series of events into one dramatic image. If you want to make interesting art, then it’s worth trying to learn how to do this. If you want to learn how to make art based on real life look more interesting, then it’s still useful.

For example, even a commissioned portrait like Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” can contain a lot of imagination and visual storytelling. This is a painting that is filled with activity and drama… which didn’t happen in real life.

From everything I’ve seen and read about the painting, the organisation who commissioned it had gone from being an actual group of guards to being more of a ceremonial dining club by the time that the painting was commissioned. But, with a lot of imagination and clever design choices, Rembrandt is able to present them as being bold, benevolent swashbucklers who are both needed and beloved by the people of Amsterdam.

Although the painting probably isn’t “realistic”, it is far more visually interesting (since it seems like it could be a scene from a novel or a film) than a simple portrait of seventeen men sitting around a dining table would be. Again, this is because visual storytelling both was and is a centrally important part of what makes art art.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

“A Night Out” By C. A. Brown (Halloween 2017 Sci-Fi Stories #8)

Stay tuned for the next short story tomorrow night 🙂

By the time the neon sign opposite the window flickered and sputtered into life, I’d decided to call it a day. Not that it was really much of a day. Business this week had been deader than a dive bar in December. According to the papers, the freak rainstorm wouldn’t even end for another fortnight.

Still, as I drained the dregs from my coffee mug and tipped the contents of the ashtray into the overflowing bin, I heard distant footsteps. A light clicking sound. High heels. Sitting back behind my desk, I straighened my tie and tried to smile. First impressions matter.

What seemed like five minutes later, there was a knock on the door. ‘Come in.

With a quiet creak, the handle turned. I like to think that I can size up a client immediately, but this one was something else. She looked like she’d just stepped out of one of the ritzy clubs on the other side of town.

The fact she wasn’t wearing an overcoat led me to conclude that she’d taken a sky-cab here. No doubt that it had landed on the roof, maybe with a butler to carry the umbrella too. But, there weren’t any wet footprints on the wood panelling by the door.

With a hint of a smile, she said: ‘Mr. Dillhale? I presume I’ve got the right office. I need you to look into something.

Smiling back, I said: ‘Yes, ma’am. My fee is two hundred credits a day, plus expenses. What is it that you want investigating?

Instinctively, I gestured towards the chair opposite my desk. She remained in the doorway. Without a word, she reached into her bag and pulled out a small brown envelope. Placing it on top of a nearby bookshelf, she said: ‘I expect results.

And I hope to deliver them.‘ I smiled again and began to get up. Before I could even get to my feet, she had already closed the door. Raising an eyebrow, I listened to the clicking footsteps get more and more distant. For a second, I thought about running after her. But, some people like to get dramatic when they visit. I blame the pulp novels.

Sighing, I grabbed the envelope and tore it open. There was nothing inside except for a small typewritten card that read ‘Phobos Club. Tonight. Call ahead.‘ Below it, there was a phone number.

After hefting the latest city directory onto my desk, I checked the address listings. There was a Beef Pho place a few streets away and somewhere called Phoebe’s on Dante Avenue, but no Phobos Club. Picking up the phone, I dialled the directory offices. They hadn’t heard of it either.

With nothing else to do, I rang the number on the card. The phone rang for what felt like two minutes, before I heard quiet piano music. A gruff voice said: ‘Phobos club.

Hello, I’m a private investigator. A client came to my office and asked me to visit your club this evening, but I’m having a hard time finding directions. You aren’t listed in the directory.

The voice went silent. For a second, it sounded like even the piano music had stopped. Finally, the gruff voice said: ‘We’ve just opened. Don’t worry about directions Mr. Dillhale, we’ll send a sky-car.

Ah, I see that I’ve been introduced. You wouldn’t by any chance know anything about my client. She’s…‘ Before I could even finish my sentence, the line went dead.

They weren’t giving out names. They weren’t in the directory. Every instinct told me to run. Maybe it was the head of the Griswold Corportation setting a honey-trap? Maybe it was Vincetti plotting revenge? Maybe it was a hundred things. None of them seemed good. With my gun at the repair shop, I’d have to cancel my plans.

Picking up the phone, I dialled the number again. Nobody answered. As much as I hated to be a deadbeat, I’d just have to skip out and hope that I could come up with a good enough excuse before the client got back.

I’d barely even reached for my overcoat when I heard the knock on my door. It was a sharp, quick knock. I glanced over at the door. There were three shadows in the frosted glass window. With a sigh, I said: ‘Sorry, I’m closed. Come back tomorrow.

The handle began to turn. ‘I said, I’m closed. Beat it.

Before I could even reach for my coat, the door flew open. A man in a black dinner jacket leapt across the room. As he grabbed my shoulders with his bony fingers, I smelled cheap cologne and dusty books. Without even thinking, I swung my knee into his groin. He barely seemed to notice. Instead, he pinned me to the wall and glanced nonchalantly over his shoulder.

A second later, the others had joined him. My client stood at the head of the group. Slowly, she opened her mouth. Any beauty she once had evaporated in an instant as my eyes fixed themselves upon her teeth. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that she’d filed them all down to a point.

Beside her, a burly blond man flashed a jagged smile and said: ‘How exciting! You’ve excelled yourself, Marletta.

Marletta giggled: ‘Well, I was getting awfully tired of the club. So, I thought that we’d dine out tonight. If no-one minds, I’ll take the jugular.

The blond man laughed: ‘You’ve earned it! This is the most fun I’ve had in decades!

Today’s Art (28th October 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the eighth page of this year’s Halloween comic 🙂 Stay tuned for the next page tomorrow 🙂 In the meantime, you can catch up on previous pages here: Cover, Page One, Page Two, Page Three, Page Four, Page Five, Page Six, Page Seven

Unlike previous Halloween comics, this one will hopefully be in full colour and I’ll be using the ‘rectangular’ format that I used in my previous webcomic mini series. But, unlike that mini series, this one will be a narrative comic, like last year’s Halloween comic. More comics featuring these characters can be found here.

So, this was why Roz messed up the “Army Of Darkness” quotes in yesterday’s episode! Seriously though, I’ve never understood news articles that moan about “pre-loading”. I mean, even in the olden days, surely people went to pubs before they went clubbing?

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Video Nasty - Page 8" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Video Nasty – Page 8” By C. A. Brown

The Joy Of… Old Paranoia (In Fiction)

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Well, with Halloween approaching, I thought that I’d write about an absolutely fascinating type of fear-based fiction. I am, of course, talking about older works of fiction that either reflect public fears that didn’t come to pass and/or predicted feared events incorrectly.

This was mostly because I ended up reading parts of William LeQueux’s “The Great War In England In 1897“. Although I unfortunately didn’t have time to read the whole thing, I read the first 60-70 pages, the final chapter and the plot summary on Wikipedia. This was a novel that was first published 20 years before World War One began and it predicted a major European conflict… incorrectly.

Form what I read, the novel predicted a short European war (in 1897) in which France and Russia attempt to invade Britain after learning of a secret alliance between Britain and Germany. The novel alternates between narrative storytelling and stern lectures about the state of the British military in the late 19th century. It’s kind of like a cross between a melodramatic thriller novel and a paranoid political tract. It’s chilling, thrilling and occasionally unintentionally hilarious.

But, it made me think about a lot of other old stories, films etc… that tried to scare people about threats that either never came to be or which weren’t quite the thing people should have been worried about. A good cinematic example of this is an American film from the 1980s called “Red Dawn” about the Soviet Union attempting to invade the US.

The subject of Cold War-era fears was also handled in a much more “realistic” and chilling way in another 1980s film called “Threads” (about the aftermath of a Cold War nuclear conflict in the UK). This is a film which still somehow manages to maintain the power to chill, depress and disturb even when watched today – although that’s mostly due to the writing, acting and style of the film. Yet, I imagine that it would have been significantly more disturbing to watch during the 1980s.

Stories and films about old fears are absolutely fascinating for a number of reasons. The first is, of course, that they’re oddly reassuring. After all, reading stories and watching films about feared events that never came to pass (or at least didn’t come to pass in the way that was predicted) makes us feel better about the fears of today. It makes us think that, in the future, we’ll be able to sit back and laugh at the present day too. And, in the age of Brexit and Trump, we need all the reassurance we can get!

The second reason why this genre is so fascinating is because it’s a subversion of the “alternate history” genre. After all, whilst things that fall into this category might currently be seen as “alternate history” stories – they were, of course, about alternate futures when they were written. So, like with old science fiction, these stories give us an insight into how people used to think about the future.

The third reason why this genre is so fascinating is because it reminds us that people have always been paranoid about something. In this way, these types of stories are strangely timeless. They remind us that our modern fears about things like Brexit, Trump, terrorism etc.. aren’t unprecedented, they’re just the modern incarnation of a tradition that has existed for most of human history.

Finally, this genre is fascinating because it is designed to be attention-grabbing. It is designed to shock and horrify. It is designed to keep people reading or watching out of morbid fascination. This lends these types of stories a timelessly vivid and energetic quality which – for example – can make a novel from 1894 read like a modern thriller novel or “mockumentary” film.

So, yes, stories about old fears are, paradoxically, very much products of their time and yet surprisingly timeless at the same time. They’re both reassuring and disturbing, and they give us an insight into how people used to think about the world.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂