Sci-fi Films/Books and Catholicism/Christianity

Not wanting to hijack Cranch’s thread about 30 favorite unknown/not as popular films, I thought I’d start a new one discussing sci-fi films/books and our Catholic/Christian faith.

I’ll start with one of my favorites (although I have quite a few), “The Thing from Another World.” MAJOR SPIOLERS AHEAD!!!

Throughout the film Dr. Carrington espouses Darwinism as if it were absolute truth. The military people, the secretary, the reporter and some of the other scientists aren’t convinced of his position nor of his suppositions based on his ideas that a vegetable form of life would be “our superior, our superior in every way.”

I think G. K. Chesterton would have loved this film because, in the end, common sense by common men wins out over artificial theories about life and its meaning.

Does anyone else share my thoughts on this film or have more to share?

Or please post the sci-fi films/books you think have elements of the faith in them that you picked up on.

Canticle for Leibowitz

OK, but why? What does it tell you/us about Catholicism/Christianity?

It’s pretty much present throughout the book. Have you read it?

Nope, which is why I asked. :slight_smile:

It’s a long standing and acclaimed classic in Science Fiction. Many years ago, I chose it when it was my turn to choose the book for my then-Church’s book group. I liked it a lot, many other folks thought it was weird. It is divided into three sections, the first one clearly better than the other two. I remember that it was one of the first times I heard of the Catholic concept of mortal and venial sins. I think you might enjoy the book, although certainly do not expect to see an orthodox description of the Church. It’s also an interesting take on monastic life.


“Walter M. Miller’s acclaimed SF classic A Canticle for Leibowitz opens with the accidental excavation of a holy artifact: a creased, brittle memo scrawled by the hand of the blessed Saint Leibowitz, that reads: “Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels–bring home for Emma.” To the Brothers of Saint Leibowitz, this sacred shopping list penned by an obscure, 20th-century engineer is a symbol of hope from the distant past, from before the Simplification, the fiery atomic holocaust that plunged the earth into darkness and ignorance. As 1984 cautioned against Stalinism, so 1959’s A Canticle for Leibowitz warns of the threat and implications of nuclear annihilation. Following a cloister of monks in their Utah abbey over some six or seven hundred years, the funny but bleak Canticle tackles the sociological and religious implications of the cyclical rise and fall of civilization, questioning whether humanity can hope for more than repeating its own history. Divided into three sections–Fiat Homo (Let There Be Man), Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light), and Fiat Voluntas Tua (Thy Will Be Done)–Canticle is steeped in Catholicism and Latin, exploring the fascinating, seemingly capricious process of how and why a person is canonized.”

Thanks for the link, rr1213. I read all the reviews. It puts me in mind of both the Foundation Trilogy and the Dune trilogy in which certain themes of faith run, as well, but not as overtly (with connection to Christianity).

The sort of sci-fi that interests me with regard to faith aren’t those that deal directly with the subject, but which can be mined for religious themes. I’m probably one of the few people who see sci-fi films in that way, as I am guessing by the low response to this thread. :blush:

Uh, I think I’ll skip the Canticle. Doesn’t sound Catholic at all.

Spoiler Warning: The following synopsis is quite complete.

I recommend Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964). An astronaut is stranded on Mars and can’t communicate with any rescuers. One night, he’s startled by the arrival of alien spacecraft which begin mining operations. A slave from among the miners escapes, but this alien looks completely human. He begins to understand English. The astronaut asks him about God and he says he knows God, giving God a name in his own language. The pair decide to travel to the Martian pole. On the way, the slave is threatened by discovery by his alien masters. A pair of solid bracelets he wears cause him pain and fear when his alien masters are near. The astronaut uses a wire saw to cut them off. Another Christian aspect is that the alien shares oxygen pills with the astronaut to help him breathe in Mar’s thin air, cutting back on his own use of the pills. Upon reaching the pole, the astronaut, depressed and unsure of ever being rescued, remarks that he may be forgotten. The alien tells him: “God not forget.” Then they witness an asteroid hit the pole, causing the melting of ice. An earth spaceship comes by to investigate and the astronaut is able to make radio contact with him. He’s saved.

An uplifting film of courage, survival and faith.

God bless,

I remember seeing Robinson Crusoe on Mars when I was a kid, Ed. But, I didn’t remember any of the details. Thanks for posting about it! I just looked it up and sadly it hasn’t come out on DVD yet, and I haven’t seen it listed on TV in years. But you know how it goes, you hear about something that’s been unavailable for a long time and then suddenly it just pops up on TV or on DVD. We can hope, anyway! :slight_smile:

Well you always have the obvious…“May the Force be with you, Luke.” :wink:

LOL! Yes, there’s always that.

I must have seen Star Wars (the first 3 films) over a hundred times I was so taken with it in my 20’s (that dates me!).

But, when I saw the animated version of Lord of the Rings and then read the books, I was literally blown away. I saw the spiritual values in SW, but LOTR (from which SW actually takes its thunder) had a depth and gravitas lacking in SW. The next SW films didn’t fulfill their promise for me, although I know others got a lot out of them.

“The Thanatos Syndrome” by Walker Percy.(Book)
A near future where suicide clinics are common and the main character comes back to his Catholic Faith, but I thought it was great because he and the priest in the book had lots of flaws, just like in real life. Deals with the whole question of eugenics.
Of course, the Space Trilogy(books) by C.S. Lewis. I loved all three of these!

Of course the Star Wars movies, with the battle between good and evil and the redemption of Darth Vader/Anikin Skywalker in the end. (Though some of my Christian friends claim “The Force” in the film is a bit too “New Agey” for their taste.

There’s Marooned from 1969.

Basically, three astronauts are returning from a space station and are about to descend to earth. After entering orbit, they try to fire their retro rockets but they fail. With a limited oxygen supply, they ask for help from the ground. While technicians try to figure out what is wrong, a rescue mission is authorized. Using a spacecraft called a lifting body that can land like an airplane, the astronauts wait for help. As time passes, the air supply drops to a level that would sustain two men longer than three. The commander exits the spacecraft and ends his life so that the other two men have a better chance of survival. The rescue craft lifts off. In the meantime, a Russian space capsule approaches the stranded ship and signals to it. A cosmonaut appears and it seems he may be offering a spare oxygen cylinder. The American rescue ship arrives in the nick of time. End.

The commander laid down his life for his men and his sacrifice was not in vain.

God bless,

Forbidden Planet from 1956 is one my all time favorites.

A flying saucer type spaceship from earth lands on Altair 4 in a solar system far away. The commander surveys the landscape and says, “The Lord sure makes beautiful planets.”

The crew discovers a man and his daughter. This man is a scientist who has discovered the technology of an extinct alien race. Although no depictions are shown of the aliens, their technology has allowed him to build a robot named Robby. His daughter is beautiful and soon captures the attention of the crew. But the scientist has also stumbled onto a bizarre secret technology of the aliens. Unknown to him he can create a creature using his mind that begins to terrorize the crew aboard the ship. In a final confrontation, the invisible monster created by his mind enters his home and begins to destroy it. Finally, driven to his laboratory, the scientist is confronted with the fact that this monster comes from his mind and that the alien power plant there sustains it. The scientist is also told that his daughter has fallen in love with the commander of the mission. When he asks his daughter if it’s true, she says, “Yes, body and soul.” He realizes that the technology to create such mental monsters led to the extinction of the alien race that once occupied the planet. He sets off a chain reaction that will destroy the planet but keep mankind safe from such technology. The spaceship departs with his daughter and Robby. The planet explodes. End.

A man sacrifices himself so that a technology capable of destroying an entire race is not used again.

God bless,

The first movie I thought of was Solaris (the remake starring George Clooney). In a nutshell, due to the affects of a strange planet they are orbiting, the crew of a space station begins encountering doppelgangers of their dead relatives, which needless to say is not doing wonders for their mental states. Psychiatrist Chris Kelvin (Clooney) arrives and soon encounters his wife, dead these several years from a suicide, an event which he is still trying to come to grips with. She appears to be a living, breathing human but with a limited awareness of her circumstances and past. Shaken to the core, Kelvin puts her in an airlock and opens the outer door. Was it murder? The next day she (another?) reappears on board. He begins to accept this new reality but is in conflict with another crew member who has no use for these beings. The movie is an exploration of the meaning of existence and identity and I think redemption.

A.I. and I, Robot both involve the ethics of the dignity of personhood as it applies to man-made creations which posess artificial intelligence. Easy parallels can be drawn to our own culture of death.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

From an online article (which puts it better than I can):

The screenwriter of *The Day the Earth Stood Still *Edmund H. North himself admitted that the parallels between the story of Christ and *Day *were intentional: from Klaatu’s earthly name of [Christopher] Carpenter, to the betrayal by Tom Stevens, and finally to his resurrection and ascent into the heavens at Day’s end.
“It was my private little joke. I never discussed this angle with [producer Julian] Blaustein or [director Robert] Wise because I didn’t want it expressed. I had originally hoped that the Christ comparison would be subliminal."


The Day the Earth Stood Still

From an online article (which puts it better than I can):

[quote]The screenwriter of The Day the Earth Stood Still Edmund H. North himself admitted that the parallels between the story of Christ and Day were intentional: from Klaatu’s earthly name of [Christopher] Carpenter, to the betrayal by Tom Stevens, and finally to his resurrection and ascent into the heavens at Day’s end.
“It was my private little joke. I never discussed this angle with [producer Julian] Blaustein or [director Robert] Wise because I didn’t want it expressed. I had originally hoped that the Christ comparison would be subliminal."


I always wondered why the name Klaatu adopted “happened” to be “Carpenter.” I know he took Carpenter’s suitcase and so dressed in his clothes, but never knew why the name Carpenter was used. It makes sense now. And even if North meant it as a “joke” I believe the real Carpenter of Souls used it to send his message of self-sacrifice to modern man under the guise of the modern genre of science fiction.

Everyone’s examples are great! They have given me a lot of food for thought. Thanks, people. Keep 'em coming! :thumbsup:

I think it was intended more as a neat plot twist than an over-arching theme but I thought about the demise of the Martians in the War of the Worlds. After easily invading Earth and destroying world capitals, the Martians seem not just more technically advanced but invincible; all human efforts to counter them defeated. Suddenly just as all hope is fading, the Martian spacecraft begin to fall out of the sky, the alien occupants dying. A voiceover tells the story:"The Martians had no resistance to the bacteria in our atmosphere to which we have long since become immune. Once they had breathed our air, germs, which no longer affect us, began to kill them. The end came swiftly. All over the world, their machines began to stop and fall. After all that men could do had failed, the Martians were destroyed and humanity was saved by the littlest things, which God, in His wisdom, had put upon this Earth."
There it is: trust in God, He has a plan and salvation is in Him alone. Or it could be a paean to adaptation through evolution, :hmmm: but I still love the overt reference to God and His wisdom.

I strongly recommend Canticle. It’s deeply, deeply Catholic, and deals with responsibility, personhood, and the timelessness of the Church.

C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy is Christian but not Catholic. My favourite books is the second, Perelandra. The series is about a scientist who travels to Mars and Venus, and encounters unfallen intelligent life and the ruling archangels of our nearest planets. The trilogy culminates in the battle between the archangels of other planets, and the ruling power of our own, who is fallen. It’s a very good read, and very interesting.

Till We Have Faces, also by Lewis, could be classified as fantasy. It’s a retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche, and I think it’s his best novel.

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