The Andromeda Strain (1971) is one of the building blocks of my scifi cinema education. I was born as science fiction films really began to lean into realism and more serious subject matter. The fears of the atomic age were beginning to wane and anxieties about artificial intelligence and what we might be bringing back from our explorations with the Apollo missions were on the rise. As a result, we saw fewer glowing, mutant monsters and more lethal microorganisms. As the threats grew smaller, the facilities to deal with them grew more extravagant. We entered a golden age of production design for cinematic laboratories and space stations and this film is one of my favorite examples of that. In addition to the classic aesthetic, it also addresses one of the great scifi themes – the potential end of life as we know it. It works as meticulous procedural, warning about humankind’s arrogance regarding our place in the cosmos, and triumph of art direction. I love the atmosphere of isolation that it generates, the very specific paranoia of the time that it exudes, and the then-state of the art technology on display. Come get decontaminated and check it out!
What you’ll find in this episode: murderous space germs, gender politics in the scientific arena, color coordinated laboratory/jumpsuit combos, Ericca’s Shirley Booth impression, and our trip to Johnson Space Center.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out The Andromeda Strain on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Sneakers.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Panic in the Streets.
The home of Johnson Space Center and NASA.
A look at the split diopter shots in The Andromeda Strain.
An overview of the five deadliest outbreaks and pandemics in history.
Cole’s Film Discoveries of 2016 list over at Rupert Pupkin Speaks.