Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Building the Golden Throne part 7 - Salvation and Doom

I was first introduced to Gothic architecture at around the same time as miniatures.  In High School I was part of a class "knowledge bowl." Sort of a spelling bee but for facts.  I joined the Gothic section, which was the arts offering, and began to memorize different architectural elements of different cathedrals.  What ended up being more fascinating however, and would always slowly take my attention away, was the visual message and the "why" behind them more than the "how."  I have over the years expanded upon that, and also come to understand something - these buildings are very much taken for granted.

This is also coming from a New-Worlder.  I am sure those of you from across the pond who pass these massive and elaborate structures on a regular basis must become accustomed to Gothic era architecture.  More than any other style of architecture this is intersesting. The Gothic feels almost manic in it's need to get it's message to you. The message the encrusted, stretching towers scream silently from their rooted positions, is also the reason the Gothic is more than any other style inspiration for so much science fiction:

"Behold, a grand place of love and worship of a true god; which if crossed, can annihilate you."

The threat is the key.  The duality of love and destruction is not present in many other forms of architecture, if any. Why this was introduced when it was is an essay in itself, but consider if it could be an outward threat, or a new understanding of human nature and the society underneath the men who built these very expensive and labor intensive buildings. Regardless, the Gothic cathedral has influenced modern science fiction.  The beloved Nostromo, to the less considered Event Horizon.

Event Horizon the movie was unfortunately a dud in revenue, despite the efforts of the visual department behind the movie. The 90s weren't the greatest decade for science fiction; Fifth Element and The Matrix would come a year or two after, and not much before. If you could sit through the movie though, you were treated to some of the best model design of what was released: Event Horizon the ship.

The ship was made digitally, by taking and stretching out Notre Dame cathedral while keeping it's basic elements.  Keep all the arches, add a locomotive undertone for the industrial feel, and then greeble the heck out of it, and you have one pretty impressive ship model.  It wasn't just great for it's design in a vacuum (no pun intended) but within the movie it built upon the existing themes in the writing.  The scene becomes a cross over Neptune.  Duality of this religious symbol of saviors becoming the doom and living hell of the rescue team.  Watch it again with this is mind, and one can see why Notre Dame and the Gothic style was chosen.  Life and death.  Salvation and doom.  This duality is important in the Throne as well.  The Emperor protects, burn the heretic.