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Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us (2005)

Directors Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott and James Cameron discuss the science fiction movies of the 1950s that influenced them.


Richard Schickel
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Mark Hamill ... Narrator (voice)
Steven Spielberg ... Himself
George Lucas ... Himself
Ridley Scott ... Himself
James Cameron ... Himself
Edmund Gwenn ... Dr. Harold Medford (archive footage)
Lou Costello ... Orville (archive footage)
Walter Pidgeon ... Dr. Edward Morbius (archive footage)
Anne Francis ... Altaira Morbius (archive footage)
James Arness ... Robert Graham in 'Them' (archive footage)
Michael Rennie ... Klaatu (archive footage)


'Stephen Spielberg', Ridley Scott, James Cameron and George Lucas discuss the importance of science fiction films and the influence of the genre. Following the end of World War II, new kinds of enemies appeared, those that could not be seen such as the atom or the fear of the unknown such as that resulting from the cold war. Movies became metaphors for those fears and science fiction films took many forms. They include giant bugs such as the ants in Them! (1954) or inanimate object such as in The Monolith Monsters (1957). In The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) the terror comes from everyday life - a cat, a spider - as the man gets smaller and smaller. Science fiction involving space travel required more imagination. Destination Moon (1950) and Rocketship X-M (1950) were early attempts at taking a serious look at space flight and its implications. Then there were encounters with aliens, some benign, such as Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) or aggressive aliens as ... Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

5 July 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Watch the Skies! See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lorac Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

Credited actors with the "archive footage" attribute are specifically identified by an interviewee or the narrator as film clips in which they appear are seen. See more »


Features Invaders from Mars (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

Bad Dream
5 August 2005 | by tedgSee all my reviews

There are few things in life that allow you to crease the world without consequence. In the world of movies, those consequences can be profound.

Take Spielberg, a moderately talented filmmaker who eschews originality and insight, instead trusts an extraordinary intuition about what people like. Or think they like. Or can be fooled into liking with a several hundred million dollar promotion budget.

This is part of that promotion, a fake documentary about science fiction movies with a commercial for Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," tacked on a the end. The "history" here is his own version of what happened in the genre, which naturally enough starts when he started watching movies.

So we get a story about science fiction movies from an accomplished storyteller with a selfish purpose. And it is nearly all wrong. I hope this is enough to warn you away from this travesty. It is bad enough that he peppers us with vulgar movies (yes, even the nobly themed "Schindler"); but it is beyond the pale for him to reinvent the history of cinema to suit himself.

Science fiction goes all the way back to the invention of movies (and of course before that in literature). The core notion has always been with us: we enter the world of film to see another world. So far as films about the future and/or space, that element of the genre was fully mature by the end of the 30s and reached its peak in "Forbidden Planet" of 1956.

After that, the genre was reimagined to host technological thrills either in the story or in the effects brazenly displayed. Scott (shown here with the briefest of comments) added horror with "Alien" and improved on the self-reference of "Planet" with "Bladerunner."

All this without the meddling of Mr Dreamworks. Bah.

Incidentally,Spielberg's one really good film ("Close Encounters") is a French New Wave project about movie-making only wrapped in sci-fi like the French (and now the Hong Kongers) like to wrap in the gangster genre. Never was, even by him at the time, considered sci-fi.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.

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