Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

Strange Days & eXistenZ: POV & VR

Strange Days is a 1995 Kathryn Bigelow science fiction film featuring a device called a “‘SQUID’, or ‘Superconducting Quantum Interference Device’, an illegal electronic device which records events directly from the wearer’s cerebral cortex, and when played back through a MiniDisc-like device called a ‘deck’, allow a user to experience the recorder’s memories and physical sensations.”

TV Tropes: “Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) is a grungy ex-cop eking out a lonely, miserable existence in the urban nightmare that is 1999 Los Angeles by dealing in dreams. He sells illegal “SQUID” recordings that allow the user to directly experience moments from people’s lives as if they were actually there, living every sight, sound, thought and feeling that the person doing the recording experiences. This allows the user to experience anything – sex, drugs, and even death…

For the first-person SQUID scenes, the film pioneered new, up-close P.O.V.-camera techniques for using headcams.”

Strange Days trailer:


Lenny explains how the SQUID works:




A couple years later, in 1999, David Cronenberg directed eXistenZ, which mashed up gaming with VR. Rolling Stone called it “A sci-fi thriller about sexy keyboard jockeys, corporate espionage and the infecting spread of terrorism, his ode to immersive gaming feels a beat too late to the modem-screech siren call of virtual reality. (The Matrix would come out a month later.)… a great unheralded Nineties sci-fi treatise on our perpetual addiction to a life lived online and a glimpse of the malleable realities on the horizon.”

eXistenZ trailer:

Bonus: in Googling to find stuff for this post, I came across a USC course on Interactive Media, which lists a number of other movies in the same general vein:

Strange Days
Johnny Mnemonic
The Game
Man with a Movie Camera
Serene Velocity
Being John Malkovich
Sleep Dealer

– Alison

Fri, October 9 2015 » future cinema 2015