Tor.com content by

Gilbert Colon

Finding the Tao: Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time Chronicles the Mysteries of the Universe

October sees the arrival of Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience in theaters as a 45-minute extravaganza from filmmaker Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line), with a 90-minute standard-format edition narrated by Cate Blanchett releasing at a later date. This IMAX version has narration from Brad Pitt, who played the father in Malick’s Academy Award-nominated and Palme D’Or-winning The Tree of Life (2011).

Back when The Tree of Life unveiled, The New York Times hailed the film for having “produced the work at an IMAX level of detail, using 5.5K screen resolution.” Unfortunately, theaters never took advantage of this “crispness to their imagery” and the film was released only on standard screens. Not so with Voyage of Time, the companion piece to The Tree of Life—a nature documentary that is more than a documentary, Voyage of Time employs the most innovative special effects and most current science to reinvent the format. Its ambitious goal is nothing less than to recreate and chronicle the birth, life, and death of the universe and all that it contains.

[A stunning visual exploration of the universe four decades in the making….]

Ayesha, White as Snow: H. Rider Haggard’s She and Walt Disney’s Evil Queen

There are few Disney villains more iconic than the Evil Queen from the 1937 animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was the first, after all, and persists as a vivid and malignant presence in the studio’s pantheon to this day. Perhaps this is unsurprising when one plumbs her little-explored lineage, traceable to another of film and literature’s most enduring villainesses: Queen Ayesha of H. Rider Haggard’s 1887 novel She: A History of Adventure, a timeless, deathless being of unsurpassed beauty—the fairest in the land—who reigns cruelly over a lost African kingdom.

The indelible image of Disney’s Evil Queen adorned in her trademark crown, prominent bejeweled necklace and, most strikingly, severe black wimple is on display in countless Disney Studios spin-offs, all the way up to last year’s Disney Channel movie Descendants. It is, however, first seen in the 1935 film adaptation of She from producer Merian C. Cooper, the creative force behind King Kong (whose personal life reads like that of the Haggard hero Allan Quatermain from King Solomon’s Mines).

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Pulp, Pynchon, and Twin Peaks: True Detective Season Two

“They’re called different things, but a lot of theory insists names are meaningless … I mean, angels, demons, monsters, whatever.”

As promised and predicted, the second season of True Detective retreated from the occult and weird fiction trappings of its first. Early last year, Pizzolatto told HitFix that the second season would be about “the secret occult history of the United States transportation system” before later retracting the concept. Is there an “occult history of the United States transportation system”? Unfortunately conspiracy theorist Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) will not be back from last season to tell us–he would be the one to know.

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True Detective: Pulp, Crime, and the Weird Tales of Nic Pizzolatto

Like Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, HBO’s True Detective adapts none of the stories inside the pages of the magazine from which it tears its name, but the unapologetic tone of the cop characters, their methods and their milieu are, despite the contemporary setting, certainly a refreshing throwback to an older form of crime writing. Interestingly, not only does creator Nic Pizzolatto’s cable drama carry the name of Macfadden Publications’ mystery monthly, it begins its flashback narrative in 1995, the same year that the police pulp folded shop (last season was split into three timelines). But Pizzolatto’s pulp influences come from more than just rough-paper periodicals like True Detective—they are shot through a “weird fiction” prism.

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The Speculative Fiction of Mad Men

“Just reasonable hopes and dreams. Doesn’t have to be science fiction.”
—Roger Sterling, “The Forecast”

After going from the made men of The Sopranos to the Mad Men of his Madison Avenue series, television showrunner Matthew Weiner might want to consider taking the plunge and next make a science fiction or horror series of his own. Weiner’s seven-season reality-based ad-men drama is so rife with references that at times it almost threatens to rocket into realms of fantastique fiction.

[“This device isn’t a spaceship. It’s a time machine.”]