Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, IU Cinema pair to present sci-fi film series

Ray Bradbury in 1975 | Photo by Alan Light

Ray Bradbury in 1975 | Photo by Alan Light

Ray Bradbury, one of the best known science-fiction and fantasy writers of our time, will be the focus of a special four-day film series at IU Cinema on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus beginning March 24.

Ray Bradbury: From Science to the Supernatural” is intended as an exploration and celebration of his works on screen. The series, which includes lectures and panel discussions, was programmed by the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Oskar Werner starred in the 1966 film adaptation of "Fahrenheit 451." | Photo by Anglo Enterprise/Vineyard/The Kobal Collection

Oskar Werner starred in the 1966 film adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451.” | Photo by Anglo Enterprise/Vineyard/The Kobal Collection

In addition to being the author of such enduring books as “The Martian Chronicles,” “The Illustrated Man,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Dandelion Wine” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” Bradbury was a successful screenwriter whose works were also adapted for film and television by other writers.

IU Cinema, an internationally recognized center for the study, presentation and preservation of film, will offer the following events:

  • 7 p.m. March 24, “Bradbury TV and Shorts Program” — The series kicks off with a unique gathering of short subjects, including the 1962 Oscar-nominated “Icarus Montgolfier Wright,” scripted by Bradbury and George Clayton Johnson. This animated film showcases paintings by Joseph Mugnaini, the illustrator closely associated with Bradbury’s books. Other short items include Bradbury stories adapted for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Twilight Zone.”
  • 7 p.m. March 26, “It Came From Outer Space” — Bradbury fans and scholars will have the opportunity to view the 1953 feature film based on an original Bradbury concept and screen treatment. Paper optic glasses will allow the audience to watch the film in 3-D — a unique opportunity to see this classic Jack Arnold-directed film as it was originally intended.
  • 6:30 p.m. March 27, “A Sound of Different Drummers” and 9:30 p.m. March 27, “Fahrenheit 451″ — This double bill showcases two adaptations of Bradbury’s classic novel “Fahrenheit 451.” The evening begins with “A Sound of Different Drummers,” an uncredited television adaptation of Bradbury’s novel for the 1957 season of “Playhouse 90,” followed by a screening of the well-known 1966 film adaptation by François Truffaut. The intermission will include a panel discussion of the fascinating history surrounding these two landmark productions. Separate tickets are required for each film.
  • 3 p.m. March 28, “Moby Dick” — On its final day, the series closes with two films that showcase the broad range of Bradbury’s own screenwriting talents. The first is John Huston’s 1956 production of the classic novel, which was an early success that secured Bradbury’s Hollywood reputation. A panel discussion will be held following this film and before the evening screening of “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
  • 6:30 p.m. March 28, “Something Wicked This Way Comes” — Directed by Jack Clayton, this is the result of a 30-year arc of creativity that transformed an original Bradbury short story into a script, a novel and finally a successful film production.

IU Cinema director Jon Vickers has worked closely with Bradbury Center director Jonathan Eller and the center’s senior advisor, Phil Nichols, to develop the program for the Bradbury film series.

“Every session has fascinating cultural connections,” said Eller, an IUPUI Chancellor’s Professor who is also the editor of Bradbury’s early collected stories and the author of two Bradbury biographies. “The Academy Award-nominated ‘Icarus Montgolfier Wright,’ a story of our quest to reach the moon, was screened in the Kennedy White House just as those dreams were beginning to move toward reality.”

The Bradbury Center has preserved Bradbury’s master 35mm reel of that animated film, along with thousands of other Bradbury artifacts, books and papers.

“The highlight of the week may be the chance on Friday to view John Frankenheimer’s masterful direction of ‘A Sound of Different Drummers’ as a prelude to the screening of Truffaut’s adaptation of ‘Fahrenheit 451,'” Eller said. “The uncredited ‘Playhouse 90′ adaptation led to legal actions and appeals that Bradbury eventually won, but these events are outweighed by the unique opportunity to compare the Truffaut film with Frankenheimer’s seldom-seen television precursor. Frankenheimer was not involved in the legal actions, and his acknowledged mastery of television drama would soon translate into a major Hollywood film career.”

“These screenings offer the first curated overview of Bradbury’s legacy in film and television,” said Nichols, a well-known Bradbury media scholar on the Faculty of Arts at the University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom. “Selecting the films for this event has been a challenge, because of the range and diversity of Bradbury’s work.”

In discussion panels March 27 and 28, Nichols will reveal some of the findings from his research among the papers in the Bradbury Center.

All “Ray Bradbury: From Science to the Supernatural” events are free and open to the public, but tickets are required for IU Cinema film screenings. Due to expected demand and limited seating, tickets should be secured in advance.

Tickets can be obtained at the IU Auditorium box office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; or by phone at 812-855-1103 for a $10 service fee per order. If seats remain, tickets also will be available in the IU Cinema lobby 60 minutes before each screening.

“Ray Bradbury: From Science to the Supernatural” is sponsored by IUPUI’s Center for Ray Bradbury Studies; IU Bloomington’s College Arts & Humanities Institute; IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute; IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab; Science on Screen, an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; and IU Cinema.

The symposium and series will take place at the IU Cinema, a 260-seat, THX-certified cinema that is dedicated to the scholarly study of film and the highest standards of exhibition. IU Cinema is one of a small percentage of theaters still able to project 35mm and 16mm films properly, as well as using the latest digital technology.

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Anthropologist and English lecturer comment on popularity, cultural themes of ‘Planet of the Apes’

Paul Mullins 1227544_w296Why does the idea of a dystopian world ruled by apes continue to pique moviegoers’ interest nearly five decades after the original “Planet of the Apes” debuted?

With the newest installment of the franchise, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” opening in theaters this weekend, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis anthropology professor Paul R. Mullins and IUPUI English lecturer Michal Hughes are available for comment on the popularity and cultural themes of the movie series.

The original series — a five-film saga — began in 1968 with Charlton Heston as astronaut George Taylor marooned on an ape-ruled planet. This year’s film follows the 2011 “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” a reboot of the original series.

On the big screen, we’ve had seven films, with a third in the reboot series announced earlier this year. What piques our fascination and keeps us coming back for more?

Mullins: “The fundamental attraction of the series remains its dystopian narrative of the price of human folly and the potential that the meek may inherit the earth; in much of the ‘Apes’ franchise, we root for the apes and are indifferent to (if not actively rooting against) the humans.”

Hughes: “A large part is the desire for answers to our questions. Why do the apes hate humans so much? What did the humans do to stir that hatred? When did the animosity between the species of apes start? How and why did it start? What caused the apocalypse? How did the humans lose speech after the apocalypse? Ad infinitum. As a prequel to the original series, viewers are hoping to discover some of the answers to these and other questions.”

There has been a change of themes in the movies, reflecting changes in society, according to Mullins and Hughes.

Mullins: “The franchise was a bit more focused on race in the ’60s and ’70s and now addresses somewhat different costs of human agency (e.g., genetic engineering, environmental impacts, etc.).”

Given that “Planet of the Apes” debuted during the civil rights era, can we expect this movie to carry the same weight as a commentary on American culture and/or history?

Hughes: “To some degree. It should show us how the seeds of hatred were sown for both the hatred between apes and humans and the class struggle between the species of apes. (Science fiction) often masks subjects like this and is able to present it to a far larger audience than other genres of film or literature. I expect the film to distinguish the subtle differences and keep these issues in the background of the story.”

Michal Hughes teaches science fiction literature in the Department of English in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. His academic interests include science fiction and fantasy. Hughes’ writings include “The Confessions of a Science Fiction Reader: Notes upon values taught by Science Fiction and Fantasy” in “Reaching Young People Through Media.”

Paul Mullins, chair of the Department of Anthropology in the School of Liberal Arts and a popular culture expert, has taught a class that includes “Planet of the Apes as American Myth: Race and Politics in the Films and Television Series” as a required textbook.

To arrange an interview with Mullins or Hughes, contact Diane Brown at 317-274-2195 (office), 317-371-0437 (cell) or

Ray Bradbury biographer to present lecture in the humanities

Legendary American science-fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury will be the subject of the 2012 John D. Barlow Lecture in the Humanities at IUPUI on Nov. 8.

“Becoming Ray Bradbury” author Jonathan R. Eller, professor of English and director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies in the Institute for American Thought, a research component of the IU School of Liberal Arts, will present the illustrated lecture, “Cry the Cosmos: Ray Bradbury and the American Imagination.”

The lecture will begin at 6:15 p.m. in the IUPUI Campus Center Theater, 420 University Blvd. A reception precedes the lecture in the Campus Center atrium at 5 p.m.

“For more than 60 years, Ray Bradbury has been one of the most recognized figures in American literature and popular culture,” Eller says. “Between 1950 and 1962, he captured the American imagination with such enduring titles as ‘The Martian Chronicles,’ ‘The Illustrated Man,’ ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ ‘The October Country,’ ‘Dandelion Wine’ and ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes.’ His increasing commitments to film, television and stage adaptations of his work led inevitably to his decline as a storywriter, but his early tales and media work soon combined to make him the nation’s most prominent public advocate of the Space Age — a role he fulfilled for the rest of his long life.”

Eller co-founded the Bradbury Center within the Institute for American Thought in 2007, and he became the center’s director in August 2011. He first met Ray Bradbury in 1989, eventually developing a working relationship that lasted until Bradbury’s death in June 2012. Since 2000, Eller has edited or co-edited several limited-press editions of Bradbury’s works, including “The Halloween Tree” (2005), “Dandelion Wine” (2007) and two collections of stories and precursors related to Bradbury’s publication of “Fahrenheit 451: Match to Flame” (2006) and “A Pleasure to Burn” (2010).

The IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI hosts the Barlow Lecture in the Humanities in honor of Liberal Arts Dean and Professor Emeritus John D. Barlow. The lecture is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. To RSVP, email with “Bradbury” in the subject line.

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