L. M. Lloyd (ubik@austin.rr.com)
Wed, 31 May 2000 22:10:14 -0500


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From: Alfred Urrutia <ledzep@d2.com>
To: <gundam@aeug.org>
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 7:40 PM
Subject: Re: OT Alan Moore comics (Re: [gundam] Gyan ancestors? was
Re: Gelgoog!)

> Ah, that is a flawed approach you have there. That's like saying
> that every time you encounter a black guy he's wearing a track
> outfit and a baseball cap therefore they all wear that crap. Yes,
> most *successful* (I use that term loosely) screen writers are shit
> and are incompatible with Gundam. But that's because of what the
> studios have determined that we supposedly like here. There are
> really good screenwriters here who, if given the chance, would do
> Gundam proud. I doubt they'll ever get that far, though.
>

The analogy you give is somewhat faulty. A better analogy would be to
go into a courtroom and see that every lawyer is wearing a suit, and
therefore decide that all lawyers wear a suit into court. Now there
might be lawyers that come into court in a pair of shorts and a
T-shirt, but they aren't going to keep many clients that way. The
reason I say this is because making a science fiction show
necessitates a bigger budget than a show about the love affairs in an
apartment complex. Since it requires more money, it will never get
made unless you can convince the backers that it will show a better
return on investment than they would get out of a show set in a
traditional setting. As a result, you have to write it in such a way
that it will appeal to a large audience. And the fact is that unless
you include elements that the general public is comfortable, you will
not get them into the seats to watch the movie. I am not saying that
an American is incapable of writing a decent Gundam story. I am
saying that a decent Gundam story would never make it through the
American screenwriting system, and remain an intact.

> Does not transfer *easily*, no. Well? Yes, it does. But nobody
> cares to take the time to try. Not enough explosions or nudity,
> probably. Too many dummies in the audience, more like. Should
> movies not be just entertainment? Shouldn't they be there,
> occasionally, as education, to make viewers think? Man, what I'd
> give for a decent adaptation of a James P. Hogan book or a Gregory
> Benford story (to name two hard SF writers who haven't had their
> books adapted).
>

Once again, I am not saying it is impossible conceive of Americans
making a good science fiction movie, I am saying that as a result of
the realities that control how a movie gets made, it will not be hard
science fiction by the time it gets to the theaters. The audience
that wants to see a hard science fiction movie, is not large enough
to warrant the expense of making one, as a result the movie will be
softened up in order to widen its audience. The result, at best, is
something like Twelve Monkeys, where you have a decent science
fiction story acting as the backdrop for a love story or other such
mainstream tale.

> Not completely. Hard SF would only be concerned with the how to do
> it, not so much the should it or shouldn't it be done part.
>

I disagree here. While a Tom Clancy novel might only be concerned
with using science to explain how a military gadget would work, the
mission of Hard science fiction is to realistically extrapolate the
possible implications of scientific principals on our world and
society. Under nothing but the most improbable of circumstances would
any nation or military ever say "what we really need is a 15 meter
tall samurai with a plasma katana to cleave down enemies at close
range." and even if those circumstances did arise, any hard science
fiction worth reading, would be remiss if he did not point out 100
various and different ways to destroy this ridiculous contraption,
without ever having to build an equally ridiculous war machine
yourself.
 
> Depends on the emotion. While more limited, rock and roll is much
> better at, say, conveying the "I'm going to beat you to a bloody
> pulp" vibe than orchestral music. Most movies don't call for that,
> though. The music Queen did for "Highlander" was perfect. Not
> dated, not "rock" in the typical sense.
>

This comes down to an entirely esthetical issue, that is simply a
matter of personal taste, so I certainly can't argue it.

>
> Don't tell me you don't notice the cinematography, the
> live-action-ness of "Ghost In The Shell" and "Spriggan". Both
> those movies seemed, for the most part, like rotoscopes of regular
> movies. Backgrounds with depth, framing like a live action movie,
> understated character movements, etc. It can be done. And it's
> better when it is, if you want a
> realistic anime like, maybe, Gundam? Transfering that to film
> would be almost too easy.
>

And here is where everyone gets pissed at me, because I have to say
that the two movies you just named are right up there with the second
Patlabor movie on my list of the most boring and pointless anime
films of all times. Sorry, but as far as I am concerned all the
scenic pans across downtown Tokyo, and shots of faces starring
blankly at you as characters deliver dialog looking directly "into
the camera," prove exactly what I am saying about how terribly wrong
animation can go if you try to direct it like a live action movie. I
mean I am such a huge Shirow fan that I even love that god awful
Appleseed movie, and I barely made it through GiTH! The only reason I
endured all of Spriggan, was because my boss at the time told me I
had to as part of my job, otherwise it would not have even made it
halfway through the tape before I hit the eject button. Hell, the guy
I was watching it with was a huge Akira fan, and actually fell asleep
halfway through the movie

>
> True. What is familiar is usually what is demanded, here or in
> other countries. I'm getting sick of the 3 act, story arc religion
> that these movies follow, though. I liked "Pulp Fiction" for going
> away from that. Same with "The Thin Red Line" and "Dazed And
> Confused".
>

Well, one of the reasons I like the idea of serialized dramas is
because the lend themselves to a rather more original form of story
telling than traditional movies. however I don't really care for any
of the movies you list above.

>
> Well, the Americans (if you want to view it in those terms) started
> it. Disney, anyway, in a movie sense. They have since decided that
> the medium is there only for children's movies, barring the
> occasional "Heavy Metal" or "Fire & Ice". So, I'll watch "Sleeping
> Beauty" repeatedly *if* I'm in the mood for romantic animated
> movies, which I typically am not. But the Japanese have *got* to
> lose the idol singer/teenage angst ridden superhuman-skilled hero
> deal because it's just as stale as the American romantic leads who
> are from two different worlds but fall in love anyways cliche'.

Yes, Disney more or less invented the modern animated film, and the
Chinese invented gunpowder, that does not mean I will choose a
Chinese firearm over a German firearm. Certainly Japanese sci-fi
cartoons have an annoying amount of requisite cliche, but they seem
to be trying every step of the way to at least redefine, if not break
those cliches, which is more than I can say for American animated
film producers.

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