Thursday, March 26, 2015
Bradbury on Screen: It Came From Outer Space
The film was made from a detailed screen treatment by Ray Bradbury. In 1952, with no real screenwriting experience to speak of, Bradbury was contracted to create and develop a film story for Universal. Being somewhat naive, and perhaps getting carried away with his idea, Bradbury wrote several versions of his treatment, culminating in one which was over a hundred pages long. In all but its technical formatting, this was a screenplay rather than a treatment.
To turn Bradbury's screen story into a shooting script, Harry Essex was brought in. Essex freely admitted that his job was very easy, as all he had to do was re-shape the treatment to conform to the screenplay format, and add some dialogue.
It Came From Outer Space joined the wave of science fiction films which had begun with Destination Moon in 1950, continued with The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951, and with War of the Worlds in 1953. By the end of the decade, the SF film genre would deteriorate into repetitive monster movies - but for now, Bradbury was able to make a significant contribution to an intelligent form of SF in which being alien doesn't necessarily mean being evil or hostile.
Twenty-five years later, Steven Spielberg would declare It Came From Outer Space as one of his key influences in developing Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
My review of It Came From Outer Space includes some extended quotes from Bradbury. You can find it here.
Tonight in Indiana University Cinema in Bloomington, Indiana, we will be presenting the film in 3D. Viewers will be given the classic red and blue glasses. Jon Eller and I will introduce the film, and we will be joined on stage by IU's resident 3D film expert Chris Eller. There will be a post-screening Q&A session. Details of ticketing arrangements can be found here: http://www.cinema.indiana.edu/about/visiting-the-cinema/.