Childhood's End author Arthur C. Clarke's Top 12 sci-fi movies

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Dec 11, 2015

Syfy's new adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's monumental 1953 sci-fi novel, Childhood's End, hopes to stir up interest in the masterworks of the genre as well as inspire and indoctrinate a new generation of future writers, authors and filmmakers into the wonders of speculative fiction.  Clarke was a tireless champion of the science fiction universe, with refined interests in a galaxy of topics, from astronomy and history to religion and art.

Collaborating with Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey, based on his short story "The Sentinel," Clarke was immersed in the realm of the moving image.  Movies and their adaptations from other material were of prime interest to him, and one day in early 1984, on the set of director Peter Hyams' 2010: The Year We Make Contact, he was asked by someone to list his favorite science fiction movies of all time, resulting in this interesting gallery of film trailers below.  His choices, which include some obvious titles, classics and modern sensations, are a well-rounded group that would serve any neophyte well in studying and experiencing the best that Hollywood has to offer in that corner of cinema.  Besides movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, the silent era triumph Metropolis and Ridley Scott's Alien and Blade Runner, Clarke was also on the fence and still considering two other movies released that decade, Star Trek II and Return of the Jedi.

Childhood's End invades the Syfy airwaves for its three-night run starting on Monday, Dec. 14.

Check out the legend's list and tell us what you think he left out since he delivered his manifesto of sci-fi movies.

 

1. METROPOLIS  1927   (DIRECTED BY FRITZ LANG)

A riveting Silent Age achievement that still resonates today, with striking expressionistic imagery, fantastical cityscapes and a curvaceous chromed robot named Maria.  Check out the color-tinted, synth-heavy version from the '80s, with a danceable original Giorgio Moroder score!


 

2. H.G. WELLS' THINGS TO COME  1936  (DIRECTED BY WILLIAM CAMERON MENZIES)

Hard to pass up this visionary epic from the early days of sci-fi, revealing a nightmarish future Earth in the year 2036, with robed warmongers, glass skyscrapers and a huge spacegun rocketing passengers to the moon.


 

3. FRANKENSTEIN  1931  (DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE)

Seeing this disturbing tale of scientific horror and medical experimentation in the grand movie palaces of Depression-era America must have been an arresting experience.


 

4. KING KONG  1933  (DIRECTED BY MERIAN C. COOPER AND ERNEST SCHOEDSACK)

The giant ape still holds a special place in our hearts, and Clarke recognizes its contribution to the art of cinema by placing it prominently on his celebrated list.  The iconic final scene of the hairy hero swatting buzzing biplanes from atop the Empire State Building may never be equaled.


 

5. FORBIDDEN PLANET  1956  (DIRECTED BY FRED M. WILCOX)

A loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's final play, The Tempest, it's immortalized not only for the quirky Robby the Robot and the frightening Id monster, but the eerie sci-fi score highlighted by the theremin musical instrument, a precursor to the modern synthesizer.


 

6. THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD  1951  (DIRECTED BY CHRISTIAN NYBY)

The oft-forgotten Nyby, whose home my ex-girlfriend cleaned in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, delivered a chilling adaptation of John W. Campbell's 1938 novella, Who Goes There?


 

7. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL  1951  (DIRECTED BY ROBERT WISE)

Remains one of the high points of serious, cautionary sci-fi more than 60 years later.  Klaatu Barada Necktie!  Oops, I mean Nikto!  I knew it was an "N" word.


 

8. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY  1968  (DIRECTED BY STANLEY KUBRICK)

Co-written with Kubrick and adapted from Clarke's short story "The Sentinel," this stunning cinematic gem still reigns supreme.  Never before has a homicidal artificial intelligence performed a sadder rendition of the mournful lullaby "Daisy."


 

9.  STAR WARS  1977  (DIRECTED BY GEORGE LUCAS)

Even Clarke recognized the perfect concoction of old-fashioned space opera fun Lucas conjured up in a galaxy far, far away.  Clarke would be glamping outside the Chinese Theater tonight for The Force Awakens' premiere if he were still alive today.


 

10. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND  1977  (DIRECTED BY STEVEN SPIELBERG)

Sure, it's about a sunburned Indiana lineman who goes nuts and abandons his family, but at least he gets to ride in that sweet mothership!


 

11. ALIEN  1979  (DIRECTED BY RIDLEY SCOTT)

The unforgettable style and elegance of this seminal sci-fi film from Sir Ridley are aspects the Sri Lanka-dwelling Clarke simply couldn't deny.


 

12. BLADE RUNNER  1982  (DIRECTED BY RIDLEY SCOTT)

Based on the Philip K. Dick story that asks the question Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? No, but they do have visions of unicorns.

 

ON THE BUBBLE BONUS PICKS:


STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN  1982  (DIRECTED BY NICOLAS MEYER)

Tying a beige sweater around your neck may have gone out of style, but this fan-favorite sequel to the Star Trek saga is timeless.


 

STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI  1983  (DIRECTED BY RICHARD MARQUAND)

The finale to the original Star War trilogy might not have made Clarke's honor roll if that Ewok "Yub Nub" celebration song had stuck in his head for eternity.