Constructing coherent worlds and woven narratives through storytelling, design and technology
The Retrospective of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival is dedicated to science fiction films, one of the most visual, stunning and spectacular genres in the history of film. This year’s Retrospective will showcase imaginary worlds in an imperfect future, the way the science fiction genre has conceived of them since its beginnings, with a focus on two themes - the society of the future, and the strange and Other.
“The Retrospective takes a look at the history of the genre and shows imaginary worlds. In selecting the films, we were inspired by the subject of our exhibition ‘Things to Come’. The particular appeal of these films is that they provide us with a sensory experience of a distant future." says Rainer Rother, head of the festival’s Retrospective section and artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek.
Bridging the Retrospective programme and the current exhibition on Science-Fiction-Film, the Deutsche Kinemathek has organized a small series of conversations and lectures about Science-Fiction Film at Deutsche Kinemathek at the Potsdamer Platz. As part of this series, Production designer Alex McDowell will be appearing in person at the Deutsche Kinemathek to give the audience a presentation about his personal experiences and aims while creating the production design of science fiction films such as Minority Report, Midnight Special, Upside Down, Watchmen, and Man of Steel - the encountered challenges and also the creative liberties.
For Steven Spielberg’s MINORITY REPORT (USA, 2002), Alex McDowell designed the sets for a futuristic world where crime was prevented before it happened by an elite police unit called “Precrime". Even before the screenplay was finished, McDowell developed a concept for a cohesive future world - future reality, not science fiction - in which preventative law enforcement has influenced things as diverse as architecture, urban planning and social life. That interdisciplinary design became more than just a visual backdrop for the story of John Anderton, the head of the Precrime unit. It had a significant influence on the screenplay itself. The film marked a radical turn in Alex McDowell’s work as a production designer and gave birth to “world building” as a design and narrative process, which he will elucidate using Minority Report amongst other films as an example.
McDowell’s filmography includes productions such as The Lawnmower Man, The Crow, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fight Club, Man of Steel, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In hiatus from his teaching and research work as a professor of practice at USC School of Cinematic Arts, he is currently designing Star Wars Episode IX.
The event, in cooperation with partner OSRAM, is on Sunday, February 12th 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
The exhibition “Things to Come. Science · Fiction · Film” has been on view at the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen since June 2016 and will run parallel to the Retrospective. It also explores the intertwining of science and fiction and will remain open until April 23, 2017 at Filmhaus on Potsdamer Platz.