Login

Roland Emmerich's ten favourite sci-fis

Image for Roland Emmerich's ten favourite sci-fis

Sci-fi runs is in Roland Emmerich's blood. From his first movie, The Noah's Ark Principle, to his new one, Independence Day: Resurgence, his films have been juiced up with singularities, wormholes, mutating neutrinos and the odd rogue USB stick. To mark Empire's celebration of the greatest 50 sci-fi moments, we asked him to talk us through his ten favourite sci-fis. The force is strong in these.

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

"I was in my first year at film school when Close Encounters Of The Third Kind came out. For me, seeing it was nearly a religious experience. It's the only movie I've ever seen where I came out and immediately stood in line again. I've seen it 20 or 30 times. If I want to be in a good mood, I watch that movie. Look at all my movies and they're very similar: super-simple, there's one big event and someone totally normal gets sucked into it."

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey

"It's just a masterpiece, stylistically. For me, Stanley Kubrick is the single most influential filmmaker. There is no-one else who comes close. Do I understand the ending? No, and I'm not afraid to admit it. I've read whole books about it and I don't think anyone does. It had a beginning, a middle and an end, and when they came to the end, I think they said to themselves, 'Okay, let's go psychedelic here.' Kubrick was well-aware that he'd created a big riddle."

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Stanley Kubrick in A Clockwork Orange

"I worked with Malcolm McDowell on Moon 44 and the first thing I did was ask him to tell me everything about A Clockwork Orange. He told me that Kubrick would only ever said 'do it again' to him. 'That's great, do it again.' After 90 or 100 takes, they'd move on. Kubrick used a little from every different way he did it. Malcolm said it was the most masterful editing job he'd ever seen. When I'm filming and I get to about take 20, I'll say, 'We're getting in Kubrick land!'"

Planet Of The Apes (1968)

Charlton Heston in Planet Of The Apes

"I went to America for the first time with my family aged 13½. We'd drive by this drive-in which was showing Planet Of The Apes and I said, 'I want to see that!' From then on, every time they asked me what I wanted to do, I asked to go see Planet Of The Apes. It was mad, I think I saw it three times. You get thrown into a world where everything is different and opposite, and at the end you realise that we did it to ourselves. Did you know that the novelist, Pierre Boulle, also wrote The Bridge Over The River Kwai? It has exactly the same ending. Someone sinking to their knees in despair."

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T.

"George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are my heroes. They influenced movies in a way that perhaps only Kubrick did. I was invited to Skywalker Ranch to watch Episode II with 30 other filmmakers, and there was Steven Spielberg talking to George Lucas. After the movie, they were just sitting there chatting about the movie together. Everyone filled out without disturbing them."

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

Mark Hamill in Star Wars A New Hope

"Like every movie fan, I just thought, 'Oh my god, this is it!' when I saw the first shot of Star Wars. You can't even describe it. What one man – George Lucas – invented with one movie was remarkable. I liked The Force Awakens very much. It's very like A New Hope, but that's fine – it works and it rejuvenates something that got a little bit ruined by its maker."

Alien (1979)

Aliens

"I get terrified during horror movies but this was probably the most terrifying movie I'd ever seen. But I had to go back and see it again, because it was so elegant. Everything Ridley Scott touches is elegant. He has so much taste."

Aliens (1986)

Aliens

"I like the special edition. These movies cannot be long enough for me! I think the early footage of the terraforming colony on LV-426 does ruin the structure in a way, and James Cameron did the right thing in cutting it out, but when you've got to the end it's super-interesting to see it. It's like when you watch a TV show and it slowly unravels: you can watch it again or watch spinoffs, you just can't get enough of it. But as a movie, yes, I probably would have cut it out too."

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day

"It was the script that influenced me first and foremost. I think Titanic and Terminator 2 are James' two best scripts; they're incredibly smartly constructed. The dream sequence is normally a no-no but it works in Terminator 2 and makes the horror of nuclear holocaust quite visceral. James Cameron is also the best with women as heroes."

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

"The Empire Strikes Back is just a super-interesting movie. It goes wild with structure. The stories run parallel, the characters hardly even meet and it ends with one of its heroes frozen into a wall! When people read the script of The Day After Tomorrow they asked me if I wasn't worried that the father and son only see each other at the end. I said, 'Look at Empire Strikes Back. Sure it works!'"

For more features from Empire, including the sci-fi special in the current issue on Independence Day: Resurgence, subscribe now. Hear Emmerich answer reader questions in our special 'ask the editor' Q&A. See the director's list of his favourite disaster movies, read his critique of Empire's 1996 Independence Day feature, and flick through his very special on-set gallery.