Yup I agree completely, "Dark Star" is one of the best unknown movies around, and even better it predates Star Wars by 3 years. Dark Star had demolition on a planetary scale, whereas Star Wars had construction on a planetary scale. I still kind of think I should go on a road trip to Benson, Arizona...
Forbidden planet is another classic, my favorite was Robbie the robot.
Favorite mad scientist is Dr. Brown from Back to the Future. The Delorean is so much more exciting than the Tardis!
But these are really all sci fi rather than engineering.
I have a big vote for "man in the white suit" starring Obi Wan from long before he became Obi Wan.
"The Dish" is a quirky little Australlian movie that centres around the role played by the Parkes radio telescope in relaying the live video of the first moon landing. Patrick Warburton plays the American engineer flown in to make sure the locals don't stuff it up, Sam Niell is the pipe-smokng manager of the telescope and Tom Long plays a nerdy engineer who makes a change to the formula used to track the signal. When Patrick Warburton asks him why he made this unauthorised change, he replies that the original formula only works in the Northern hemisphere. I am one of a very few people to appreciate this exhange, as I had to change a plus sign to a minus in a similar program, to stop an antenna I was working on from trying to point to the centre of the Earth (you can guess I am writing from the Southern hemisphere).
You know, Ripley aka Sigourney Weaver, saves the day again by driving a future armored vehicle, wielding state of the art Marine rifles, flame throwers, and, of course, the climatic final fight scene where she climbs into the powerful electro-hydraulic exoskeleton to defeat the Alien Queen. Maybe not a purists engineering movie but it has a gritty, mechanical sensibility throughout the movie from the planet atmospheric processor to the wasp-looking troop transport to the deep space travel while in stasis. This is one of my all time favorites. I still want to build my own exoskeleton power suit for all those chores around the house!
I was surprised that this wasn't listed. Maybe its importance had more to do with my age at viewing rather than the content. This started it all for me, important work done by solving problems with engineering tools. The passion portrayed in the film inspired me and I never really looked back.
And I did love Dark Star, though I hope I never think of it as an Engineering film! Even if I do find myself sometimes trying to reason with these AI wannabees.
Colossus: The Forbin Projusct: I originally saw this on a double bill with the film version of Michael Crichton's first book, The Andromeda Strain - great book, stinker film. Colossus was a sleeper - little press or advertising, but a fascinating movie about a cold war program to bring up a "defensive" supercomputer to protect the US. (Its first demand - a communication link to the "other" - it figured out the Ruskies were bringing one on line as well...)
2001: A Space Odyssey: I loved the understated way it treated the space-faring technology as something that would just be mundane and matter-of-fact to those who used it. (e.g. boosting up to the orbiting station via a commercial PanAm flight; any technical bits passed on with the same sort of zeal as our usual instructions on how to use a seat belt or the location of flotation devices...)
Lots of choices, but "The Great Escape" is one of my favorite movies of all time, and the ingenuity used to overcome adversity in a POW camp helps make it great. "The Right Stuff" about the Mercury program is also powerful, and the book is much more insightful about the conflict between the test pilots like Yeager and Crossfield and the more highly publicized astronauts. "Apollo 13" - the geeks win! "Castaway" "Swiss Family Robinson" and "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" have a similar theme of using ingenuity in a shipwreck situation. "Bridge on the River Kwai" and "October Sky" are both excellent, as well, portraying perseverance in the face of defeat. Having worked in automotive industry, "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" is a great film, although bittersweet on many levels, familiar to most engineers.
On a humorous note, "Real Genius", "Best Defense", and "Short Circuit" top my list for engineering comedies.
At the Design News webinar on June 27, learn all about aluminum extrusion: designing the right shape so it costs the least, is simplest to manufacture, and best fits the application's structural requirements.
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