The Most Influential Sci-Fi Films

Chris Marker’s haunting, fractured memory tale La Jetée is getting a Criterion Blu-ray release tomorrow (along with experimental essay Sans Soleil). Dubbed “one of the most influential, radical science-fiction films ever made … ” Marker’s 1962 black and white film is composed almost entirely of still photographs, using voice-over narration to tell the 28 minute-long tale about a man held prisoner after World War III who traverses time, sees the future, and uncovers the secrets of his past.

The film’s themes are palpable in modern science fiction, where the exploration of time travel as an agent of self-discovery, use of looped narrative and multiperiod storytelling, experimental filmmaking, dystopian themes, and more have been carried into the present. Just look at Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, which is directly inspired by Marker’s film.

With that in mind, we wanted to celebrate a few other influential sci-fi movies that have made their mark on filmmakers and cinemagoers throughout history. Check out our picks below, and share yours in the comments section.


Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) 

Elaborately and fantastically designed, Georges Méliès’ Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) is widely considered the first sci-fi film ever made and one of the greatest early cinematic achievements. Running only 14 minutes long, the 1902 movie — borrowing from H. G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon and Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon — finds a group of astronomers on the lunar globe uncovering an alien civilization. Méliès’ film boasts an array of special effects and a more modern, cohesive editing style, which brings the satirical take on science and the nature of space to life. Most importantly: iconic little green men? Check!