Back in the days well before the Information Superhighway, fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy would actually have to get together to talk about the films, shows, and books they loved; and that's what a few of us used to do. When we'd go to a movie, we'd make it a bit of an event, planning the entire night out with the movie and follow it up at the local eatery where we'd hash out the good, the bad, and the ugly of what we watched. Sure, it was different strokes for different folks, but I hope that somewhere in reality there's a version of this that still takes place today.
In any event, I can remember one of the biggest argument I probably ever got into with the guys I watched SciFi with involved Special Effects. In junior high school and high school, I had done a few short reports on effects, so I hate to say it but I knew a bit more about the process of creating them than my best buds; consequently, when I took a position, I was adamantly committed to it. While they worshipped at the trough of John Dykstra, I was all in for Douglas Trumbull.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. What can I say? This were the things that fascinated us.
See, I was familiar with Trumbull's work. Granted, I hadn't seen all of it (1972's Silent Running was still elusive as these were the days well before home video, and I hadn't caught any of The Starlost on television where I grew up), but what I had devoured was incredible. His striking and emotional visuals on Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977) could bring tears to my eyes (well, if I cried, that is), and I don't care what anyone says his work on Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) continues to be the Gold Standard for pre-CGI technology. Don't even get me started on how his stuff from Blade Runner (1982) deserves further study. It's all just so damn incredible I can't even begin to put it into words.
And those three films? His three biggest hits, as it were? See anything in common?
All three of them were nominated in the realm of 'Special Effects' for Oscars; and all three were denied. That's the biggest miscarriage of justice in awards circle to this day.
Alas, none of us last forever; and I've just noticed in Variety the announcement of Trumbull's passing. So very, very heartsick over this one. The guy was a true pioneer who just never got the name recognition I think he deserved, but I'm thrilled that maybe a whole new generation of viewers may set out to discover his work now.