Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tunnels

Has anyone ever written anything about the visual-spatial-narrative conventions of tunnels and doorways in sf spaceships? (Not just in spaceships - futuristic subterranean lairs and submarine vessels also work.) I'm thinking here, perhaps not completely accurately, of the Alien franchise, Event Horizon, Resident Evil, Sunshine, the rather good Pandorum (Christian Alvart, 2009), Leviathan, Supernova ... one's running from the villain/monster, trying desperately to beat the imminent closing of a portal, or trying desperately to close portals to cut off the v/m. The convention is about as rote as the fireball or explosion outrun by our heroes; I wonder though if there have been unsung developments or experiments in the form and substance of this particular kind of tunnel-portal chase ...

[Similar networks of tropes in these kinds of films - the mutated future of humanity in yesterday's lost ships; insanity and reckoning with the finitude of the cosmos (see also Contact). Also, the question of esoteric knowledge, e.g., a character knowing Latin in Event Horizon, and another decoding Russian in Leviathan.]

5 comments:

traxus4420 said...

hi, great idea!

i haven't seen anything scholarly on the subject, but i'm not a film scholar so that doesn't mean anything. since i couldn't help but comment, maybe this could get you started:

http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/313130/in_praise_of_the_scifi_corridor.html

(i believe the proper SF term for this is 'corridor')

seems like you'd have to differentiate the motif from similar scenarios in slasher and submarine movies, and any spaceship-based sf where they keep the lights on. oh, and first-person shooters.

marcelo said...

Re: slasher, I caught "I know what you did last summer" on TV last night and felt it was almost tiring how so much of the tension derives from that tunnel-portal chase device.

ZC said...

Traxus - yes, thanks for that link! - if I had bothered to do a little research and give the matter more thought, it would have resembled that Den of Geek piece!

I must admit I can't remember I Know What You Did Last Summer well enough to empathize, Marcelo!

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Too confusing for me!

Anonymous said...

Christine Cornea in _Science Fiction Cinema_ talks about the tunnels, going back to metropolis underground, with a key milestone with 2001...

Ken Russel names Metropolis as the inspiration for the Altered States tunnels, and mentions Huxley's Doors of Perception

Cornea calls the 70s tunnels like andromeda strain 'trippy'; that's good I think, the emphasised subjectivity; then she though suggests that these tunnels manifest the auteur of auteur theory, the "tunnels of perception" as unifying counterculture concerns with perception and the apparatus of cinema, both hyper-personalised in this way that is supposed to have a critical effect.

(Made me think of Shock Corridor also)