One of my favorite science fiction films from my youth, perhaps surprising to some int that it is not your typical sci fi film that might attract a young person, is The Andromeda Strain (1971). The source material for the film came from an adaptation of a Michael Crichton best-selling novel, and this movie also benefited from the directing of Robert Wise. (See a clip from the film at the TheoFantastique YouTube channel here.)
The storyline involves the mysterious deaths of an entire desert townspeople in connection with the return of a U.S. satellite. To add to the mystery, a team of scientists called to unravel the mystery by the U.S. military find two survivors in the middle of the town, an elderly man and an infant, and it is up to the scientists to discover the cause of the deaths brought from space, and to contain the potential for destruction. The story that unfolds makes for an interesting mix of sci fi, suspense, and a CSI detective story.
The movie came to my attention recently not only because I taped a rare television broadcast for it, but also because of advertising for a forthcoming two-night television adaptation of Crichton’s story for A&E. It will be interesting to see how the story is treated and how it compares to the 1970s film. I remain somewhat skeptical, but I do hold on to some level of optimism given Ridley Scott’s connection to the film as producer. His work as a filmmaker in general is impressive, and he has done good work in sci-fi. In brief “behind the scenes” video vignettes, Scott is featured, and he shares his appreciation for both Crichton’s novel as well as the 1971 film which he describes as a “cult classic.” His respect for this material bodes well for how it may have impacted the new incarnation of the story. The Andromeda Strain premieres on A&E on Memorial Day and I hope it provides a good treatment of Crichton’s story and a good contribution to television science fiction.