Science Fiction Film
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 27 February 2019
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0152
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 27 February 2019
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0152
Latin American science fiction (SF) cinema does exist, although it is seldom noted by most film critics, scholars, and historians—and perhaps even by major audiences. Unlike other countries across the globe, Latin American countries generally lack more visible and consistent SF film production. This circumstance can be ascribed to limited film budgets and the lack of a consistent film industry in Latin America, which, in turn leads to a type of production and aesthetics that relies on the audiences’ imagination more than special effects per se. The alleged “invisibility” of Latin American SF film can be partially (if not totally) explained by the historical instability affecting the Latin American film industry. Thus, cultural biases align with economic circumstances in the preclusion of Latin American SF cinema. Exceptions, however, may be found in the scenarios of Argentina and Mexico, countries where speculative fiction (including both the fantastic and SF) appear to have developed differently, in comparison with other Latin American nations, such as Brazil. In any case, a systematic and consistent body of film criticism and academic work dedicated to Latin American SF film has yet to be constructed. Unlike the literature on the United States, Europe, and Japan, the available bibliography on Latin American manifestations of this film genre is generally sporadic and scattered. Yet, this situation appears to be gradually changing. Internet and digital technologies have scaffolded a (still) fragile web for film scholars interested in SF cinema. And, interest in Latin American SF—literary and audiovisual—seems to be growing, on the part of international scholars. This article will provide a basic bibliography for further investigation into the field of Latin American SF cinema, with a special focus on three countries: Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.
Despite the marginal approach of most international encyclopedias and companions to SF audiovisual media, fragmentary information on isolated SF films and TV series produced in Latin America can be found in a number of works. For instance, Hardy 1995 is a reliable source that does not overlook Latin American SF film. This work, however, only lists a handful of Latin American films, in contrast to the massive number of US and European productions. This is understandable, given the scenario put forth by the international film industry. Equivalents to what are perceived to be the paradigms for SF cinema—films such as Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Fred M. Wilcox’s Forbidden Planet (1956), Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982)—are much scarcer, or perhaps completely nonexistent, in Latin American film production. However, this so-called serious-dramatic SF cinema has occasionally emerged in some Latin American countries, such as Argentina. Hence, films such as Alberto Pieralisi’s O quinto poder (The fifth power) (1962), an early SF film from Brazil; Eliseo Subiela’s Hombre mirando al sudeste (Man facing southeast) (1986), from Argentina; Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos (1993) and Rodrigo Ordoñez’s Depositários (2010), from Mexico; Alejandro Brugués’s Juan de los muertos (Juan of the dead) (2011), from Cuba; and the Mexican American production Sleep Dealer (2008), directed by Alex Rivera, are undoubtedly eloquent representatives of Latin American SF cinema. Furthermore, SF film parodies have multiplied across South America since the 1930s, when Latin American filmmakers began venturing into the genre. Whereas notes on the roots of the melting pot that is Latin American SF can be found in Haywood Ferreira 2007, one of the most reliable and insightful overviews of Latin American SF cinema is presented in Paz 2008. This work properly serves as an introductory overview, addressing the verifiable aesthetics, production issues, and political subtexts in Latin American SF films, particularly from Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil. A selection of essays addressing sequential art, as well as literary and audiovisual works, Ginway and Brown 2012 contains a variety of approaches to Latin American SF. Finally, general information on Latin American SF film and literature can be found readily in Nicholls, et al. 2011, an online SF encyclopedia.
Ginway, M. Elizabeth. “A Working Model for Analyzing Third World Science Fiction: The Case of Brazil.” Science Fiction Studies 32.3 (2005): 467–494.
Ginway’s essay provides a working model for analyzing Third World, or non-Western, SF. The author investigates selected Brazilian SF narratives published over a specific time period. These narratives are then grouped into generations, or eras, and examined against the backdrop of Brazilian cultural myths.
Ginway, M. Elizabeth. “Teaching Latin American Science Fiction in English: A Case Study.” In Teaching Science Fiction. Edited by Andy Sawyer and Peter Wright, 179–201. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Ginway’s essay has an introductory section on SF cinema, and it also gives an introduction to SF in Spanish America and Brazil that may be useful to researchers who speak only English.
Ginway, M. Elizabeth, and J. Andrew Brown, eds. Latin American Science Fiction: Theory and Practice. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
This anthology of theoretical essays compiles a variety of approaches to Latin American SF. The volume assumes a rather broad scope, exploring Latin American SF in different media from Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean, and the Southern Cone, thus, offering a multifaceted theoretical perspective on Latin American SF.
Hardy, Phil, ed. The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction. New York: Overlook, 1995.
Hardy’s encyclopedia of SF film is one of the most reliable and comprehensive, covering the worldwide production of this genre, from its beginnings in the silent era to present times. The film synopses are straightforward, accurate, and elucidative. However, most Latin American SF cinema, Argentine, and Brazilian films, in particular, are completely overlooked by the book.
Haywood Ferreira, Rachel. “The First Wave: Latin American Science Fiction Discovers Its Roots.” Science Fiction Studies 34.3 (2007): 432–462.
The author departs from “retrolabeling the early works of Latin American SF” (p. 432) in order to present a rigorous investigation and thorough archaeology of Latin American SF narratives vis-à-vis the Western history of the genre. As a result, the roots of Latin American SF are exposed and discussed.
Nicholls, Peter, John Clute, and Barry Langford, eds. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. 3d ed. 2011.
A comprehensive online database including information on Latin American SF. This digital repository features a variety of entries on Chilean SF, Uruguayan SF, Colombian SF, Cuban SF, and that of other countries.
Paz, Mariano. “South of the Future: An Overview of Latin American Science Fiction Cinema.” Science Fiction Film and Television 1.1 (2008): 81–103.
With a focus on Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, Paz’s consistent overview introduces the main trends in Latin American SF cinema. The author studies how Latin American SF cinema rearticulates the narrative and iconographic conventions of American SF and thereby links these elements with local and regional cultural icons and traditions.
Suppia, Alfredo, ed. Cartografias para a Ficção Científica Mundial – Cinema e Literatura. São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda Editorial, 2015.
This collection of essays brings together introductory “maps” for further explorations of science fiction in literature and film. Some of the essays gathered here are unpublished, others were originally published in academic journals, and have been translated into Portuguese especially for this volume. This small “atlas” speculates on topics such as film and science fiction literature in Latin America and Brazil; science fiction and the sense of wonder; science fiction under the prism of Brazilian literary criticism; the relations between horror and science fiction in cinema; science fiction and gender issues in film and literature; archeo-fiction and the pioneers of science fiction in Brazil and Latin America.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas