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Oblivion: welcome back classic science-fiction

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For classic science fiction I do not mean the one relegated to a specific period, but the one close to a romantic vision that tells stories where the protagonist is the man, his deeds, his heart. But the heart is not just a human being’s inner side, there is also an outer side connected to the world in which man lives, the environment in which he is immersed, be it a spaceship, a space station or – as in the case of “Oblivion” – the Earth in a post-apocalyptic version. Here, the interaction between human beings and the environment acts as a conscience, able to tap into an energy that flows in the human mind but at the same time survive outside of it, maybe in that “place” that we call soul.

oblivion-cruise

In Oblivion the apocalypse was willed by alien invaders who destroyed the Moon first, then waited      the devastating consequences, earthquakes and tsunamis, finally they stuck with their army and nuclear bombs a land now uninhabitable, against a population already wiped out by disasters and hunger. Human beings have still won the war but were forced to emigrate on Titan, a moon of Saturn. The aliens, called Scavengers, are left on Earth.

Two human technicians – Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) – living in a house above the clouds and carry out work of territorial control and maintenance of the drones.

These drones patrol the pumps designed to draw the water of the oceans, water taken to ensure the survival of the human Oblivio-Olgarace on Titan. But there is something strange that disturbs Jack Harper’s sleep, dreams of a life never lived, never known images of a woman and an almost ancestral attachment to a planet that can not host him but on which it would like to stay. Questions and uncertainties begin to crowd the mind of Jack.

All this is just a long prologue that prepares us, slowly but also with absolute clarity, to subsequent events marked by major twists. The unpredictability is left to the attention of the viewer, in fact the plot twists are not created to impress or destabilizing, but they act as engines to give push to the story; they remain consistent to the plot and rather than subvert, they widen the overall vision allowing the story to develop into a compact and progressive way, without undue entanglement. The beauty of the script – written by Michael Debruyn and Karl Gajdusek – just lies in its fluidity and in its gradual growth that captivates without resorting to bombastic special effects.

Above I mentioned the “romantic sci-fi” that, in Oblivion, it’s just like a knightly science-fiction but without the epic space opera  – that we see in Star Wars, for example – . Oblivion’s plot focuses on the path of the single character: so, Jack becomes a sort of Parsifal of 2077 and his research is not only external but also internal and is always directed towards the human soul.

The script is from the unpublished graphic novel developed by director Joseph Kosinski with Arvid Nelson.

Joseph Kosinski had already demonstrated with “Tron: Legacy” its ability to handle complex scripts without taking refuge in the frenetic style for the most difficult moments to interpret, on the contrary, he resorts to the elegance with moments of pure aesthetic inspired, even in action scenes, from great sci-fi movies.

Viewer goes by images and by association of ideas, through small details that recall the classic science fiction as “Planet of the Apes”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, first and second Star Wars’ trilogy, but also “Indipendence Day”, “Moon” and “Wall·E”. Nothing is left to the case.

“Oblivion” is a film of high stylistic level: elegant in the setting with a sophisticated photography, shows personality for what concerns the actors, of great emotional impact content and surrounded by charming soundtrack.
A science fiction film that leaves its mark where the environment creates poetry, poetry becomes action and every action tells the soul of the human being.

If we have souls,

they’re made of the love we share.

Undimmed by time, unbound by death.

Jack Harper

 

first image: Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper

second image: Olga Kurylenko plays Julia

all images in article ©Universal

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I have seen Oblivion yesterday and it was great! I love thoughtful stories focused on a single character. It also showed great landscapes, both natural beauty and post-apocalyptic ones. And the architecture was breath-taking!

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  4. I only recently watched Oblivion. It’s a shame so many critics are biased against sophisticated SciFi and probably Tom Cruise because of his personal life, however, I totally agree with this article. It’s beautifully filmed, full of suspense and like all the greatest SciFi films, highlights the best of humanity when challenged with impossible odds. One additional movie I’d add to the list of highly underrated classics is Vin Diesel’s labor of love The Chronicles of Riddick.

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