Following the huge success of its season in London the BFI now offers a programme of key titles from Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder for international tour. Highlights include a specially commissioned score by Matthew Herbert and the BBC Radiophonic Orchestra to accompany the first British silent sci-fi film, Message to Mars.

Sci-fi has come to define the cinematic experience for audiences everywhere. We celebrate the originality, the craftsmanship and the vision behind some of the most important film and television ever made. Its calling card is visual spectacle, but at its heart sci-fi is the genre for big ideas, revealing our hopes and fears for tomorrow’s world. We have only glimpsed its full potential.Heather Stewart, Creative Director, BFI

Touring programme features

  • Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder brand identity
  • clips from each of the films included in the package on DCP
  • relevant BFI commissioned web content including in conversation sessions and interviews
  • specially-written film notes for distribution to cinema audiences
  • Days of Fear and Wonder publication and merchandise
  • full details of how to acquire non BFI owned international rights and materials

Booking and rights information

Contact us for international booking enquiries.

The BFI will provide all rights information to allow you to clear the rights for non-BFI owned rights and materials.

Films in the programme

Message from Mars

UK 1913. Dir J Wallett Waller.  59min.  With Hubert Willis, E Holman Clark, Charles Hawtrey
Music and sound design by Matthew Herbert
With additional material from the New Radiophonic Workshop

Britain’s first full-length science fiction feature has been restored by the BFI National Archive and is now accompanied by a new score by composer Matthew Herbert and New Radiophonic Workshop, commissioned by the BFI and the BBC. The plot, which echoes A Christmas Carol, concerns a Martian exiled to Earth with the mission to change the heart of a selfish man. This fascinating film was based on a highly popular stage play which saw many revivals over 30 years in Britain. It features the first on-screen imaginings of Martians by a British filmmaker, as futuristically clad members of the Martian court. Thought transference, instant space travel, mind control and the use of a far-seeing crystal ball all feature in this groundbreaking film. Restoration specialists at the BFI National Archive, in collaboration with Dragon Digital in Wales, spent over 6 months painstakingly assembling the full-length film from 2 shorter versions and a tinted print held by the Museum of Modern Art.

Booking: BFI

High Treason (silent version)

UK 1929. Dir Maurice Elvey. With Jameson Thomas, Benita Hume, Basil Gill. c82min. With live piano accompaniment

A futuristic London, rendered through lavish (for the period) special effects, provides the spectacular setting for British cinema’s answer to Metropolis. When avaricious financiers and arms manufacturers attempt to foment war between the world’s dominant power blocs (not least by blowing up the Channel Tunnel), only the Peace League (and Benita Hume in a stunning dress) can prevent the world from slipping into oblivion. A highpoint of British silent cinema.

Booking: Park Circus

High Treason (sound version)

UK 1929. Dir Maurice Elvey. With Jameson Thomas, Benita Hume, Basil Gill. 67min

Produced when cinemas were on the point of converting to sound, High Treason was consequently shot in 2 versions. The sound version had been thought lost for many years until a print of the US release was discovered in 2005, and preserved by the US Library of Congress in 2010.

Booking: Park Circus

Things to Come

UK 1936. Dir William Cameron Menzies. With Raymond Massey, Edward Chapman, Ralph Richardson, Margaretta Scott. 100min. Digital. PG

HG Wells himself worked on adapting his vast, labyrinthine novel into this ambitious and expensively-mounted production. Things to Come details the fortunes of 2 families from 1940, when the world is first engulfed in a war that nearly wipes out humanity, to the year 2036, where advances in technology have turned man’s attention to conquering outer space. Sir Arthur Bliss’s monumental score crowns a major British achievement.

Booking: Park Circus

The Man Who Changed His Mind

UK 1936. Dir Robert Stevenson. With Boris Karloff, John Loder, Anna Lee. 66min. Digital. U

With the visual design, subject matter and hiring of Boris Karloff, The Man Who Changed His Mind was clearly a British emulation of Universal’s sci-fi and horror productions – and the end result was a fitting match to its Hollywood counterparts. When mocked by his peers, Karloff’s previously only mildly-deranged scientist goes completely off the rails, and his experiments with a mind transferral machine graduate from chimpanzees to humans.

Booking: Park Circus

X: The Unknown

UK 1956. Dirs Leslie Norman, Joseph Walton. With Dean Jagger, Edward Chapman, Leo McKern. 80min. Digital. PG

An ancient horror emerges from deep beneath the remote Scottish moorland. Hungry for radioactivity, it causes havoc before heading for the biggest meal of its life: an atomic research establishment. Chief scientist Dr Adam Royston (Dean Jagger, leading a terrific cast) races to thwart the nightmarish creature. This fast-paced Hammer thriller is taut, tense, intelligent and chilling, with gorgeously horrid effects. Described by The News Chronicle as ‘bowel-loosening,’ X The Unknown is guaranteed to delight all Quatermass fans.

Booking: Park Circus

The Day the Earth Caught Fire

UK 1961. Dir Val Guest. With Edward Judd, Janet Munro, Leo McKern. 98min. Digital. PG

Former golden boy of the Daily Express newsroom, Peter Stenning (Judd) is managing a messy divorce and battling the booze when he breaks the Cold War story: nuclear testing has knocked the Earth off its axis, tipping it towards the sun. Guest’s apocalyptic thriller sizzles with a BAFTA-winning screenplay, fantastically sweaty (occasionally sexy) performances, and a vision of end-of days London that really burns.

Booking: StudioCanal

Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150AD

UK 1966. Dir Gordon Flemyng. With Peter Cushing, Bernard Cribbins, Roberta Tovey. 84min. Digital. U

The Doctor travels forward in time to the year 2150. He arrives in London to find that the Daleks have invaded, and are either sending human beings to toil in their vast mines or turning them into Robomen – their slaves. Working alongside the resistance movement, the Doctor and his companions must find a way of thwarting his arch enemies before they too are brainwashed and turned into Robomen.

Booking: Park Circus

Quatermass and the Pit

UK 1967. Dir Roy Ward Baker. With James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover. 77min. Digital. 12A

The film version of Nigel Kneale’s third Quatermass story boasts one of the finest British scripts ever written. As boffins, army officers and politicians argue over a mysterious object – an unexploded Nazi bomb or a spacecraft? – unearthed at a London tube station, Kneale introduces and interweaves numerous narrative threads to intriguing and increasingly apocalyptic effect. The effects might have been more spectacular, but the devil is in the thematic detail.

Booking: Park Circus

A Clockwork Orange

USA-UK 1971. Dir Stanley Kubrick. With Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates. 136min. Digital. 18

Kubrick’s disturbing and surreal vision of the near future seems more relevant than ever 4 decades on. Malcolm McDowell is mesmerising as Alex, whose teenage rampage makes him ideal for a government experiment in behavioural modification. But if we’re simply programmed to not do bad things can that still make us good people? A potent meditation on personal responsibility and free will, A Clockwork Orange caused outrage on its release, and remains as unsettling.

Booking: Park Circus

The Man Who Fell to Earth

UK 1976. Dir Nicolas Roeg. With Rip Torn, David Bowie, Candy Clark, Buck Henry. 138min. 18. Digital

An alien, stranded on Earth while on a mission to find water for his own world, initiates a plan to amass a fortune in order to fund a space programme that will help him return to his home planet. David Bowie’s impressive acting debut (in his first major screen role) built upon his other-worldly public persona. Roeg’s mesmerising direction, combined with Bowie’s performance, turned The Man Who Fell to Earth into a cult film.

Booking: Park Circus

The Glitterball

UK 1977. Dir Harley Cokeliss. With Ben Buckton, Keith Jayne, Marjorie Yates. 56min. Digital. U

An extra-terrestrial spaceship crash-lands on Earth. Separated from its own people, the alien pilot explores the local area while looking for a way of restoring communication. With its insatiable appetite linked to its ability to generate power, the alien sets out on an eating spree. Made by the Children’s Film Foundation, The Glitterball is often cited as being a pre-cursor to ET, which was released 5 years later.

Booking: BFI

Flash Gordon

UK 1980. Dir Mike Hodges. With Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Timothy Dalton, Max von Sydow. 115min. Digital. PG

Alex Raymond’s popular comic strip character bounds on to the screen to heroically save the Earth from Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow on splendid form), ruthless ruler of the planet Mongo. Mike Hodges directs with verve and wit, Queen provide the memorable score and Fellini’s frequent collaborator Danilo Donati provides costume and set designs that ravish the eye.

Booking: Park Circus


UK 2010. Dir Gareth Edwards. With Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able. 94min. 12A

South America is a quarantined zone after alien life-forms crash-land on Earth, and this is where we find photographer Andrew (McNairy), who is tasked with escorting his boss’s stranded daughter (Able) back into the safety of Central America. The pair begin a journey that is part romantic road movie (think It Happened One Night) and part sci-fi adventure, complete with stunning giant octopus-like creatures, which are included thanks to director Gareth Edwards’ (Godzilla) BAFTA-winning background in visual effects.

Booking: Protagonist Pictures

Attack the Block

UK 2011. Dir Joe Cornish. With John Boyega, Sammy Williams, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost. 88min. 15

It’s a normal evening on a south London council estate; Nurse Sam (Whittaker) is mugged on the way home by a teenage gang, posh boy Brewis (Luke Treadaway) visits his dealer, and some kids get attacked by vicious alien beasts who’ve crash landed in the local park. A sci-fi siege movie with comedy, horror, and plenty of sociological discourse, this fantastic debut from director Joe Cornish follows Moses (Boyega) and an unlikely group of survivors as they defend their urban home.

Booking: Park Circus

2001: A Space Odyssey

UK 1968. Dir Stanley Kubrick. With Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester. 141min. U

Philosophically ambitious, technically innovative, visually stunning, Kubrick’s sci-fi epic is a cinematic milestone. Co-written with novelist Arthur C Clarke, it charts the progress of ‘civilisation’ through the influence of mysterious monoliths on prehistoric apes and, later, on astronauts involved in a mission to Jupiter. The camerawork, effects and production design are hugely impressive, but most striking is the audacity of the largely dialogue-free storytelling.

Booking: Warner Bros

Under the Skin

UK 2013. Dir Jonathan Glazer. Scarlett Johansson, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Paul Brannigan. 108min. 15

Visually and aurally audacious, Under the Skin is a dramatic departure from Jonathan Glazer’s previous work. An elliptical sci-fi and a brilliant amalgam of fantasy and reality, it’s both creepy and luminous in its metaphysical precision, and Johansson is nothing short of spectacular as the alien creature who stalks human prey.

Booking: StudioCanal