To wrap up this semester, I would just like to make a few reflections. Although this class has been fairly laid back, mostly because it meets once a week, we have collectively had some great presentations, discussions, and group efforts to understand the reality behind Hollywood science. From the first day of class we were encouraged to think critically about what the movies tell us by examining real life natural disasters and then natural disaster movies. Magma and Dante’s Peak became a running joke in the class as we discovered when we aren’t just watching movies for please, but watching with the intention to analyze, that they can be beyond ridiculous when it comes to the scientific liberties they take to make an action packed film.
From B movies like Absolute Zero to blockbuster films such as The Day After Tomorrow, we covered nearly every natural disaster scenario. I personally feel I have made two major realizations from analyzing these movies in depth. First, scientific films like to take a major concept, such as the Earth’s core stopping or a viral outbreak and have a field day with it. While some concepts may have a pretty good amount of merit to them in that they could potentially happen somewhat like the movie portrays, any film is going to take reality and make it “Hollywood.” For example, while my movie Outbreak could potentially happen, the chain of events that lead to the climax and resolution are extremely far fetched and could only happen in which everything was timed perfectly. Second, movies like to impress their audiences by portraying the unknown in detail –detail most people would accept as fact because they do not know any better. For example, in the movie Sunshine, the sun is going out and there are eight astronauts that travel through space. There are small details about space travel portrayed in the film that are technically false but because they come across as realistic, no one would give a second thought to them.
Besides being able to watch movies that I may not otherwise have interest in seeing, a very rewarding aspect was the final project in which we got to present to elementary school children some of the clips of movies we’ve seen in class and then ask them questions about whether they are realistic or not. It was putting into practice the course concept of whether the public will believe the science that Hollywood presents. Surprisingly, the 5th graders we conversed with were extremely smart and caught on to most of the discrepancies in the movies. Furthermore, they were extremely logical in their thinking and many of the points they made I doubt would occur to a majority of the American public when it comes to science fiction movies. It proves that while Hollywood can provide great entertainment –their science still can not fool a 5th grader. There have been some awesome elements to this course and I have definitely learned to think a bit more critically about what movies portray –and not just with science films.