x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The magic of now

"Magic" may be the best way to explain 'sufficiently advanced technology' and Hollywood may be the best way to present those magical ideas.

'Magic," as the late science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke once wrote, is the only way to explain "sufficiently advanced technology". Hollywood, as Clarke was aware, may be the best way to present these magical ideas.

Like all futurists of his day, Clarke knew well the power of the Silver Screen. His 2001: A Space Odyssey is still regarded as one of the seminal cinematic works, capturing the possibility of future technology. Characters from that 1968 epic phoned home from space and fiddled with iPad-like devices. It would be decades before for these gadgets would be developed, let alone taken seriously.

Yet the list of films that have made accurate predictions of the future don't end with Clarke's. Who can forget Princess Leia's holographic image pleading for help from Obi Wan, an idea that, as Robert Matthews wrote in The National yesterday, is no longer so far-fetched? Or Ray Bradbury's burning of books in the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451, an eerily suggestive theme that hints at the current Kindle-era?

If life does indeed imitate art, our future may be more miraculous than even Clarke could have considered. Perhaps we'll one day find ways to trick time, or dodge bullets. Who knows, maybe we'll even find ourselves journeying inside video games, an idea that the sequel to Tron - set to close the Dubai International Film Festival next month - pitches as possible.