The Science Fiction and Romance genres naturally intertwine. Think of your favorite sci-fi films and quite often there is a love story nestled in the fabric of it. Through dystopian futures, modern tales of intrigue and advancing technology, or even long after most human beings are even gone; love (either literal or as a concept) is at the center of it all. These sci-fi films use romance as a means to tell their tales with a deeper and more intimate ferocity. They play with the rules of the world as we know it to stretch the human heart past the breaking point.
Can love last forever unbounded by space and time, monsters and men doing monstrous things, or even technology itself? These five films put romance to the task and are all sad, beautiful, and sublime. It’s okay to cry. But please, not on your laptop.
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
What if you could hire a company to erase painful memories? Would you still be the same person or do our relationships affect you in ways that go beyond simple neurons firing? This indie sci-fi classic from the minds of Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry tells the story of Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) and the cyclical nature of their romance and relationship. Their rise and fall and rise again is in no small part due to the Lacuna, Inc. company that has found a way to erase the memories of its customers including Joel and Clementine. Throughout Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, the film fights for the idea that it’s not the outcome that matters. It happened and that’s a miraculous thing.
Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)
If a person falls in love with a phone, is that love real? In Her, Spike Jonze’s future-chic romance puts Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) under the microscope as he lumbers along half-heartedly after his divorce from the hardened and ambitious Catherine (Rooney Mara) until he downloads a new operating system (OS) blessed with an artificial intelligence that evolves with its user. The OS, naming herself Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), emerges bright-eyed and ready to learn about the world around her. Theodore is almost instantly smitten, but the detritus of his past and Samantha’s non-corporeal being complicates things. Her examines deeply the fundamentals of how romantic relationships are formed, maintained, and then break. Marvelous and frustrating, the act of loving ultimately means evolving, and that’s undeniably real.
Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010)
If you knew you were just being harvested for your organs could you still live a full and loved life? Never Let Me Go, based on the Kazuo Ishiguro book of the same name, follows three characters on a journey of love and doomed self-discovery. Kathy H (Carey Mulligan), Tommy D (Andrew Garfield), and Ruth C (Keira Knightley) are all clones and all grow up attending the Hailsham School where they are groomed essentially for harvest later in life. They are resigned to their fate until whispers of a possibility of deferral if they can prove that two ‘donors’ are in love. This is literally a matter of life or death for these three, but time inevitably catches up with us all. Never Let Me Go ruminates on whether love really is worth it.
Upstream Color (Shane Carruth, 2013)
How would you move on with your life after a devastating stint as a host to a mind-controlling parasite? Upstream Color, the second film from the mind-bending genius of filmmaker Shane Carruth, gives us two broken characters attempting to connect and stay connected while recovering from their ruined lives. Both Kris (Amy Seimetz) and Jeff (Shane Carruth) feel drawn to each other, each having pasts they would rather not touch. In coming together, they begin to unravel the mysteries of their own trauma. In the end, they are still broken, but maybe together they can learn to live again a little better, a little brighter, and with a little more color.
Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
Pixar’s ninth feature film Wall-E (directed by Andrew Stanton), doesn’t just ask if two robots can fall in love; it asks if love is a universal truth, a natural impulse, and something that can change the world. The titular hero, Wall-E, is your typical trash-compacting robot working long after humans has abandoned Earth for a sedentary life among the stars. Eve is a shiny robot dedicated to finding any sign of life no matter the cost. When her and Wall-E’s paths collide over the first plant found on Earth after hundreds of years, their relationship has implications for the rest of humanity. Their growing partnership shows that love can inspire good in others.
What are your favorite romantic science fiction films? Do you like your love stories attached to genres like sci-fi and fantasy? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures