While the sublime is most often associated with the theories of Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century, it has increasingly moved away from fine arts and become intertwined with developments in the advancement of technology. It is for this reason that science, and by extension science fiction, becomes an important element in the analysis of the sublime. Film and the cinema can be considered as two of the most prominent elements in translating, what may be termed, the ‘science fiction sublime’, hence it is the medium and setting chosen to illustrate this iteration of the sublime.
This study explores the histories of both the sublime and science fiction in order to show how they have impacted one another. The SF films discussed have been chosen from the past decade, as the bulk of the research into the genre is concentrated on particular older films like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Blade Runner (1982). Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin (2013), Joseph Kosinski’s Tron: Legacy (2010) and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014) are used as examples of how visual effects may evoke the science fiction sublime, as well as how the sublime is represented in the themes of alienation/the Alien Other, technophilia/technophobia and infinity along the space-time continuum respectively.
The study ultimately shows how the sublime is evoked, non-diegetically, through spectacular visual special effects and is represented diegetically, through the plot and themes of particular science fiction films. This is done through what is called “transcendence in immanence”.