Nostalgia for the future

In yesterday’s post I talked about period films, and how much they reveal about the era in which they are made.

Stephan pointed out that this is also true for Star Trek, as in the differences between the original series and the recent JJ Abrams reboot.

Which made me realize, perhaps for the first time, that a science fiction film is a period film. In this case the period is a particular vision of the future that has become built into our culture.

You might argue that a “vision of the future” doesn’t count as “period”, since it’s not a real place or time.

Yet the “old West” that we see in our movies is often the mythological version, not at all grounded in the reality of life in those times, but rather in an idealized collective fantasy about that era. It is not so much whether a period being portrayed exists in reality, but rather, whether it exists in our hearts.

And there is some piece of cultural real estate in our collective history that we all recognize as “science fiction future” that we idealize as a period in our cultural history, like any other. We experience all of the attitudes toward this make-believe place that we have toward any other era in our nation’s history.

We might even feel nostalgia for the future.

3 thoughts on “Nostalgia for the future”

  1. I recall how when I first read “2001” as a youngster in the moonshot era, it seemed a completely plausible future.

    Re-reading the book as an adult in the actual year 2001 it…wasn’t.

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