BFF 2017 Curator’s Notes – “Pale Blue Dot” Film Series
Human beings have always had their eyes on the heavens, for purposes of navigation, worship, agriculture, and, of course, the promise of transcendence from earth. It is no surprise that Georges Méliès’ 1902 masterpiece Le Voyage dans la Lune remains so iconic to this day. It was a pivotal moment in the history of cinema, and—in spite of its fantastic silliness—satirized imperialism and the “build first, ask questions later” ethos of the industrial age, which are only more pressing concerns now, 115 years later. Above all, it offered a thrilling glimpse at what it might be like to leave this earth.
It was not mere human curiosity that launched Yuri Gargarin into space in April of 1961, but an arms race that threatened total annihilation of life on earth. The objective of the Star Wars era was not escape, but domination. When Méliès released his film on September 1st, 1902, the Wright Brothers were still a year away from their flight at Kitty Hawk. He could never have anticipated the visions and perils of the space age, how even a commercial craft could be weaponized, as was just ten days before the 99th anniversary of his film’s release.
Méliès and his audiences also couldn’t anticipate the new perspectives that would come as our place in the universe became simultaneously smaller and more precious, the sort of wondrous humility espoused by thinkers such as Carl Sagan, or those who had actually seen earth from above, such as Gargarin himself, who seeing past the arbitrary delineations of borders and nations exhorted: “People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty, and not destroy it.”
Borrowing the title of Sagan’s final work, the Pale Blue Dot film series reflects on space and earth in a broad sense. It begins and ends with personal meditations of birth, time, and borders. It reflects on wide open spaces, travel, imperialism and technology in South America. It tells stories about the often arbitrary and power of borders over human lives. It considers the human effect on our immediate environment before taking us into outer space, with visions that are at turns whimsical and grim. If there is one thing that binds these stories together, it is a longing for place. In case you get lost, just remember: You are here.
Films in this series
- TADA (Before Now)
- Flock of Stars
- The Forgotten Plain
- Jegues (Donkey)
- Deux Rives (Two Shores)
- Alabora (Updside Down)
- RINGO ROCKET STAR and his song for Yuri Gagarin
- Milo-n The Moon
- They Will All Die In Space
- For Our Cockroaches
- To Future Generations (Den Nachgeborenen)