As part of Scalarama, Electric Sheep and Strange Attractor are excited to present the brilliant dystopian science fiction tale Phase IV, the only feature film directed by genius designer Saul Bass + special guest speakers art historian Petra Lange-Berndt and director of SCI-FI-LONDON Louis Savy.
Famed as a graphic designer of posters and title sequences, Saul Bass only got one shot at directing a feature, and the resulting film is a period masterpiece that is both a microcosm of contemporary environmental issues and a beautiful, intelligent science fiction film.
After an unusual planetary alignment in our solar system exposes planet Earth to anomalous electromagnetic fields, ants start preying on larger animals, including humans, marching across America and destroying whole towns. In an attempt to try to stop them, English entomologist Dr Ernest Hubbs (a frothingly good Nigel Davenport) and American mathematician James Lesko (Michael Murphy) set out to observe a colony of the super-intelligent ants from the apparent safety of a geodesic biosphere in the Arizona desert. What follows is a long, tense stand-off between ants and humans.
Although its interiors were shot at Pinewood, Phase IV‘s arid, ant-ravaged locations convey a convincing sense of a dying America and, as you’d expect from a first-class designer, the film looks exquisite. A brooding score, featuring eerie synthesiser sounds from White Noise’s David Vorhaus, further accentuates the mood of alienation and impending ant-nihilation.
Nobody can have expected this enigmatic, philosophical and ultimately rather downbeat film to be a commercial success, but Paramount still tried to exert control over the final cut, leading to a quarrel over its ending. We are very excited to present Bass’s intended ending after the film.
We’re also thrilled to have art historian Petra Lange-Berndt, author of Animal Art, and Louis Savy, director of SCI-FI-LONDON, in attendance, who will be talking to Mark Pilkington and Virginie Sélavy after the screening.
Buy advance tickets from WeGotTickets.
Scalarama is a UK-wide film season dedicated to all forms of cinema exhibition that will run from 31 August to 29 September 2013. Check the Scalarama website for the full programme and follow them on Twitter for updates.
Watch the trailer for Phase IV: