Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ridley Scott on Viruses, The Environment and The Andromeda Strain

Ridley Scott was the Executive Producer of the A&E The Andromeda Strain miniseries that I review below. He told Michelle Alexandria at Eclipse Magazine that this wasn't the first time he had worked on a movie about a killer virus:
At one stage I was going to something called The Ebola which would examine the ‘big daddies’ that suddenly come for no reason out of nowhere, descend on a community, wipe out 90 to 100 per cent, stay for a few weeks and then, inexplicably, go. I got very close to making it with Jodie Foster. I went to this place in the Carolinas called USAMRIID, which is a military facility, which is a seven-acre laboratory – SEVEN ACRES! - Which apart from anything else protects the health of the military wherever they are and also monitors world health and conditions. When something kicks in, they are usually the first out there - I bet they are circling Burma right now – waiting for some terrible outbreak of something. It is almost like a military task force of doctors, which can tell a nation that they are coming in to control the outbreak. The film’s thesis was the more we rip down rain forests and disturb places that have not been touched for millions of years, we are going to uncover things that have been dormant. Ebola was a dormant thing that was believed to have come from a cave in Kenya. Also it is not irrational to believe that from time to time small particles land on Earth. Thank God they are not big ones. These particles burn up as they enter and they are tiny pieces that are probably not worth thinking about – but what kind of bacteria are they carrying?
That is one of the reasons he wanted to work on The Andromeda Strain - it's themes of environmental destruction and out-of-control disease are timely. He also believes that science fiction writers like Crichton have great ideas based on science:
He takes fact and stretches it just a little bit to make it almost fantastical. Most of the things that he has thought up are happening or will happen. I think a lot of scientists sometimes look to the very best of the best science fiction thinkers. We were talking about replicants and replication 25 years ago [in Blade Runner] and then 12 years after Blade Runner the Senate made application to genetically replicate sheep. What they wanted to do was start cloning what would be the perfect animal for consumption. So if you can replicate a sheep, you can replicate a human being. Science fiction frequently is a visionary notion that actually is probably definitely going to happen.
I actually don't agree that science fiction is particularly visionary, except in the most superficial sense. Cloning, for example, was known in science (and science fiction) much more than 25 years ago*, so Blade Runner wasn't really predicting anything scientific.

Read the whole interview to find out more about what Scott has been working on.

(via SF Signal)

* I have a post on that very topic in the works, so stay tuned.

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