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  • AutorenbildLars Henriks

On the narrative potential of low key Sci Fi Romance

In 2015, I wrote the script to what would become "Leon must die" - The movie that formed "Obsessive Filmmakers" as the group it is today and also the movie, that catapulted us out of our own biotope in the Hamburg underground, into the film festivals of the world (I was invited to travel to Vietnam, England and the USA to attend festival screenings of "Leon"). For the first time, we got not only media coverage, but we also landed a distributor, IndieRights, who put our movie out on many streaming platforms, where international audiences watch it ever since.

All of that started with me reading an article about the untapped narrative potential of romance in Sci Fi. There are a few of those out there if you google it, and I don't remember which of them was the one that really inspired me, but I do remember the movies that got me thinking about how to say the things I wanted to say then in a Science Fiction narrative that wouldn't cost anything.

Of course, first an foremost, there was "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", that heartbreaking, forever fresh, genius classic that laid the foundation to what I consider to be a "great romantic comedy". I have tried SO hard to find something similar, afterwards, but nothing compares. I love it a lot.

Then, there was "Safety Not Guaranteed", that had just paved the way for its director to revitalize the Jurassic Park franchise. Going from indie movies to bigger things was a very real dream back then.

I hadn't then and haven't, to this day, seen any of the "Before" trilogy movies, but as a concept, they were in my head all the time when I thought about how to tell a Lo Fi Sci-Fi RomCom.

In the end, all I needed were a few kinda deep discussions about death with lead actress Nisan and the desire to ironically pay homage to a couple of Sci Fi classics to give me a rounded idea of what I wanted the film to look like.

The short "Eagles turn People into Horses" had a weirdly deep influence on my vision for the art direction of "Leon must die" and I would definitely count it as "LoFi Sci Fi RomCom", so here it is, right before I'll get into why this sub-sub-niche-genre fascinates me to this day and which films I'd recommend you check out ASAP!

Science Fiction in mainstream cinema is mostly conceived of as effects-heavy movies that are light on character - Or philosophy-heavy movies that are light on character.

Of course, bringing a Science Fiction world to life is mostly a big budget effort, so most Sci Fi movies need to be kind of bland to appeal to a mass audience.

The more daring and aesthetically challenging LoFi Sci Fi films of all decades and countries have always interested me a lot more than Stark Trek, Star Wars, 2001 - A Space Odyssey and everything similar to them.

"World on a Wire", "Tetsuo: The Iron Man", "Primer", "Time Crimes", "Alphaville", "Pi", "Melancholia", "Beyond the Black Rainbow" - The list goes on and on.

I am even more interested in completely character driven, personal stories set in Science Fiction worlds. I don't see too many of those.

Except, there are a few movies concerning themselves with love stories set in the future (or featuring sci-fi elements). And that, I love! It's wonderful!

The obstacles you can think up! The elegant metaphors for contemporary, human problems that become apparent! I don't know what it is, but lo fi science fiction romance stories connect with me in a weird way.

Here's a list of films in this category that I would recommend:

964 Pinocchio

Let's start with something for the hardcore underground film connoisseurs.

This Japanese cyberpunk classic tells the story of two truly traumatized people who find tenderness in each other, trigger each other's trauma, have to overcome hostile and destructive urges to then be free of their past together. It's disgusting, exhausting and beautiful.


Let's just get the "Mysterium Pictorum" films out of the way, first. When we discussed "Solaris", Yarin said, his favorite quote in the movie was "Don't turn a scientific problem into insignificant romance", which I think sums up this movie - Which is very much on the "2001" side of the spectrum, but still has a relationship and thoughts about relationships front and center on the outside.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternally one of my favorite films of all time.


Sam Esmail's feature debut has a haunting soundtrack and a brilliant style. I love it to bits! Narratively, it does get kind of thin in between and ultimately ends up just a tad shallow, but who cares! It has one of the best film trailers ever made!

Safety not Guaranteed

Charming & quirky Hollywood "indie" that always puts me in a good mood. Very wholesome!


I can't really tell anymore if I'm just so impressed with the fact, that this has been made on such a low budget (or, has been made at all, really), or if I actually do love it as much as I do for its inherent merits. Watch the Making Of documentary, too, is what I'm trying to say. Monsters is awesome!

The Science of Sleep

Another major inspiration for "Leon must Die"'s "selfmade-Sci-Fi" look. Unfairly expecting another "Eternal Sunshine" when I first watched it, I was pretty disappointed, initially, but have still grown to respect this whimsical, quirky embodiment of 2000's indie.

Never let me Go

I never see this little gem given much love at all. Maybe I'm weird for liking it as much as I do, but there you go. I'd suggest everyone watch this one instead of "The Island". It's a bit cheesy, but it's also quite haunting.

The Lobster

You know as well as I do that this list wouldn't be complete with this very dry, very brown particularity.

I know everyone expects "Her", but I don't like "Her". I love Spike Jonze, usually, but "Her" just doesn't connect with me at all.

Instead, there's a big budget romantic Sci Fi movie that must not be left out.

The 5th Element

You can judge me all you want - This is a masterpiece! It is flawless and I love it!

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