In praise of the sci-fi corridor
September 3, 2009 5:01 PM   Subscribe

In praise of the sci-fi corridor -- a geeky look at that staple of sci-fi movie sets - the corridor.
posted by empath (71 comments total) 99 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is not something I have ever really consciously thought about, and yet it is awesome and worthy of attention all the same. And that is one of the things that I love MeFi for. Thanks.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 5:14 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah, so utilitarian and yet stylish and futuristic. Very cool! (I like the corridors of the Serenity, myself)
posted by gemmy at 5:15 PM on September 3, 2009


As do I. I like the way the walls go out. Gives you an open feeling.
posted by cashman at 5:26 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Awesome post, empath. I wish I could favourite it more than once.

And gemmy, there used to be a martini bar in my town that we called "The Firefly" because it reminded us of certain sections of Serenity. (it's since been renovated and lost most of its charm)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:30 PM on September 3, 2009


The aesthetic had even penetrated into the 1980 cover of one of AskMe's all-time favorite "What did I read as a kid?" sci-fi books, This Time of Darkness. Apologies for the size; it's all I can seem to find.
posted by adipocere at 5:36 PM on September 3, 2009


This is something I have thought about quite a lot. Some good stuff in there. Would like to see a twin article about the best corridors in FPS games. For my money it's hard to beat Doom 3, and Dead Space.
posted by autodidact at 5:39 PM on September 3, 2009


Seconding six-or-six-thirty's take: I've appreciated the scenery without giving it the lovingly in-depth analysis the author has. Nice post.
posted by misha at 5:46 PM on September 3, 2009


Would like to see a twin article about the best corridors in FPS games.

Barrels I Have Known And Loved: A Gaming Retrospective coming soon from the good people at wonderchicken industries™
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:48 PM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Very well researched article. Thanks!
posted by zardoz at 5:50 PM on September 3, 2009


I seem to remember having read a book about the writing and filming of The Trouble With Tribbles wherein the author says that corridor scenes were discouraged for Star Trek because they somehow cost more than the normal sets of rooms.
posted by hippybear at 5:50 PM on September 3, 2009


Post of the week. Maybe the month.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:53 PM on September 3, 2009


So *thats* what was so eerie and familiar about the corridors in the Hoover Dam.
posted by The Whelk at 6:01 PM on September 3, 2009


Would like to see a twin article about the best corridors in FPS games.

Barrels I Have Known And Loved: A Gaming Retrospective coming soon from the good people at wonderchicken industries™



Boxes.
posted by The Whelk at 6:03 PM on September 3, 2009


I know the article is talking mostly about movies, but no love for the corridors of Moya from Farscape? Especially those doors that pivot from the middle rather than the sides. :)
posted by snwod at 6:04 PM on September 3, 2009


The Importance of Walls in Science Fiction


Walls are important to science fiction. There are many examples of walls in science fiction throughout the ages. Without walls, science fiction would not be the same. This is why there are so many walls in science fiction today.
posted by Pronoiac at 6:13 PM on September 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


Very cool. Another corridor I'll always remember is the rotating corridor in The 6 Million Dollar Man - Sasquatch episode. (Sasquatch played by Andre the Giant!)

Needlessly thorough wiki entry about the episode
posted by Kafkaesque at 6:17 PM on September 3, 2009


I know the article is talking mostly about movies, but no love for the corridors of Moya from Farscape?

Maybe it's because I'm rewatching the series right now, but that's the first thing I thought of too.
posted by Cyrano at 6:18 PM on September 3, 2009


I'm sad that there's no love for Cube, which is, in a sense, a movie entirely shot in corridors.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:18 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The aforementioned corridor
posted by Kafkaesque at 6:18 PM on September 3, 2009


Time Tunnel! One season on TV, 1966-67. Each episode began with our hero running through a tunnel. Didn't realize until I checked Wikipedia that it was created & produced by Master of Disaster Irwin Allen.
posted by robotico at 6:20 PM on September 3, 2009


OK, that article pretty much pegged my geekometer. Well done.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:28 PM on September 3, 2009


Barrels I Have Known And Loved: A Gaming Retrospective

There's actually a classic article at Old Man Murray about crates and barrels in video games. The idea is that the first occurrence of a crate or barrel represents the point at which the game designer ran out of ideas and resorted to cliche. To that end they ranked a bunch of games on that scale. A disturbing number of games actually start the player looking at a crate or barrel.
posted by jedicus at 6:33 PM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I meant to say crate but went with box cause I couldn't rember the name of Old Man Murray. This is just to say-oh never mind
posted by The Whelk at 6:36 PM on September 3, 2009


oh yeah...that time tunnel set is amazing...spot-on about curves being expensive, also any set that has to move around (2001, poltergeist)...but i think the most expensive are forest sets (dagobah)...lotta upkeep, and of course, underwater ones...
posted by sexyrobot at 6:40 PM on September 3, 2009


It seems to me that the fact that "corridors" are an identifiable subfield of SF is indicative of a certain monotony of setting.
posted by DU at 6:40 PM on September 3, 2009


Very awesome. But alas, I suspect that no corridor will ever top the (Mariot Hotel-esque) corridors of the Enterprise-D, my first sci-fi hallway loves.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:00 PM on September 3, 2009


I'm sad that there's no love for Cube, which is, in a sense, a movie entirely shot in corridors.

True, but so much more. The entire spectrum of human emotion, based around traps that will kill you only if you are smart enough to defeat them. Cube is a great movie... the sequels, not so much.
posted by Benway at 7:03 PM on September 3, 2009


When I was in high school, my friends and I all agreed that the prototype for all Dr. Who episodes should be The Ventilation Ducts of Womb-World. This appears to be true for all other SF vehicles as well.
posted by localroger at 7:05 PM on September 3, 2009


Get Smart. Well, OK, it's not science fiction.
posted by maxwelton at 7:12 PM on September 3, 2009


It is possible that Cube was based on the Jim Henson film The Cube, which you can view at Google Video.

I think it's a single set with no corridors. I've not watched it entirely yet.
posted by hippybear at 7:13 PM on September 3, 2009


Fans of the vermislitude-laden scifi corridor should visit the late site of Quark's Bar in the Vegas Hilton. The part of the casino surrounding the bar was all decked out in Star Trek decor, but now it's just really out-of-place since the Trek exhibit passed.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:13 PM on September 3, 2009


Look, I'm one of the System Shock developers and I just thought of a crazy way to store ammo: in crates!

Thanks jedicus, for turning me on to Old Man Murray. Very funny.

And this post is awesome!
posted by Mister_A at 7:15 PM on September 3, 2009


What happened to OMM anyway?
posted by Mister_A at 7:18 PM on September 3, 2009


Awesome post. And further proof that House is Sci-Fi

However, it fails to mention Das Boot (who cares if it's not sci-fi), which I'd say is the ultimate "corridor" movie.
posted by qvantamon at 7:19 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've always thought that the Enterprise D needed some potted plants and bellhops, and maybe a few expensive prostitutes hanging around.

As for me, I liked the corridors of Babylon 5, especially the doors that were designed to swing down in case of a power outage.
posted by happyroach at 7:29 PM on September 3, 2009


Oh so we're starting off with the Nostromo. -swoon-
posted by butterstick at 7:32 PM on September 3, 2009


... and finishing with Aliens.

BRA-FUCKING-VO!
posted by butterstick at 7:43 PM on September 3, 2009


Event Horizon gave good corridor.
posted by Zack_Replica at 7:50 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


What happened to OMM anyway?

Erik Wolpaw ended up doing a lot of the writing for Portal. (Which, ironically, features quite a few crates.)
posted by blenderfish at 7:51 PM on September 3, 2009


"What do you think, what do you think that surface looks like to you, that hallway?"

"Carpet."

"It is. I'm just saying it, more in terms of what - in the reality of the motion picture it looks like. What do you think: it's a spaceship, what kind of surface might he be running on?"

"I dunno. Space Floor?"

-Modern Romance
posted by Iridic at 7:53 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is great. An architect would a corridor a "transitional space," noting that it is neither the entry, nor the terminus, and thus somewhat minor and only intended to facilitate movement from point A to point B, and perhaps become supportive of reaching Point B in some heroic or significant manner. But this focus on "corridor," a real subset, illustrates the possibilities. Somehow, airports should be this interesting. It is like the garage--ignored, therefore pregnant with possibility.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 7:54 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Event Horizon gave good corridor.

Fuck that ship.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:59 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Very nice, and I must admit it made me realise I like corridors :)

A worthy mention of the WORST corridors, must go to Star Crystal which featured tunnels you had to crawl through.
posted by lundman at 8:03 PM on September 3, 2009


Somehow, airports should be this interesting. It is like the garage--ignored, therefore pregnant with possibility.

I've just spent the last half hour trying (and failing!) to find photos of my favorite real-life sci-fi corridor--the main passage of Grand Central North. Two or three blocks long, with something like a 2:1 width-to-height ratio, and a slight curve like it's the bottom deck of a rotating space station. (I've thought way too much about this--thought about using it as a cheap set for a cheap sci-fi movie myself).

I also think that the LIRR departure space of Penn Station is a fairly accurate rendition of what the first colony on Mars would look like, 10 or 20 years in. So I might be just a little bit weird.
posted by thecaddy at 8:04 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


My favorite real-life sci-fi corridors are the Washington, DC, Metro stations.
posted by needled at 8:16 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is nice, and the eclecticism is a nice change from sci-fi picture-blogs... with one notable exception.

When talking about this corridor from Soderberg's serviceable remake of Tarkovsky's classic Solaris, he might have noted that it's pretty much an exact copy of the corridor in the original, which (one might note) actually predates every single film on there except 2001: A Space Odyssey, since it came out in 1972. In fact, I've always felt like the special effects and settings in Solaris are sort of the Soviet answer to 2001; the sets kinda have that particular Soviet feel. I like 2001 a lot, but I still think Solaris is a lot more more fun to look at. (Seriously, stare at this for a while; what the hell is going on there?)

Of course, Tarkovsky could still do better. Sci fi corridor? Sci fi corridor.
posted by koeselitz at 8:38 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Soderberg's Solaris corridor | Tarkovsky's Solaris corridor
posted by koeselitz at 8:43 PM on September 3, 2009


I'd never heard of Old Man Murray. It was quite funny.

It would have been better if I didn't have to spend five minutes writing a new greasemonkey script to change black backgrounds to grey.
posted by Netzapper at 9:00 PM on September 3, 2009


Dammit, iridic, I spent the last hour looking for that clip.

I got nuthin' else except that the younger guy on the sound console is Albert Brooks's brother, Cliff.
posted by stargell at 9:09 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Awesome post. More, please.
posted by signal at 9:16 PM on September 3, 2009


Barrels I Have Known And Loved: A Gaming Retrospective coming soon from the good people at wonderchicken industries™

You mean this?
posted by dammitjim at 9:18 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Erik Wolpaw ended up doing a lot of the writing for Portal. (Which, ironically, features quite a few crates.

I'd go so far as to say that Portal made the final statement on crate usage in video games. In fact, Portal was to "Crates in Videogames" as Watchmen was to "Superheroes in Comics".

(Also, the other half of OMM also works for Valve--mostly on Left 4 Dead stuff now).
posted by empath at 9:47 PM on September 3, 2009


needled: awesome corridor, thoroughly overdone, but real life, in other words, perfect for SCI-FI.
posted by uni verse at 10:24 PM on September 3, 2009


"It is. I'm just saying it, more in terms of what - in the reality of the motion picture it looks like. What do you think: it's a spaceship, what kind of surface might he be running on?"

"I dunno. Space Floor?"


"I told you it was too slow."

"Too SLOW? He's screaming!"
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:37 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


My OCD is so bad that all I can do is look at those corridors and think how hard it would be to mop them. And then all that stuff in the walls, those tubes and those electrical looking things...Gah! What a nightmare. How am I suppose to clean that?
posted by cazoo at 12:22 AM on September 4, 2009


Whoever designed my Alma Mater's hospital clearly was deep into dystopian sci-fi, corridors included.
(Yes, it really looks like "Red Dwarf" inside and out, only creepier.)
posted by Skeptic at 1:15 AM on September 4, 2009


There's only one thing to do now... run up and down lots of corridors!
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:34 AM on September 4, 2009


Yeah even though it was on films (and awesome) I was missing an aside on Dr Who... On one of the commentaries I listened to recently Peter Davison even takes time out to give an in depth analysis of his corridor acting.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:30 AM on September 4, 2009


London's underground system always gives me a "sci-fi" feeling. Especially Westminster, which must be the coolest piece of public transport architecture in the world.
posted by jonesor at 3:24 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


The corridors in System Shock 2 have always struck a chord with me.
posted by Kikkoman at 4:44 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


London's underground system always gives me a "sci-fi" feeling.

I remember visiting Southwark Tube Station soon after it was done up... has a very science fictional feeling too.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:55 AM on September 4, 2009


this is really only a subset of sci fi corridors, that being, corridors in space, what about the matrix reloaded corridor? or the corridors of tron? also it seems like once you get out of space and back onto land corridors stop being infrastructural pipes making utilitarian connections and start being chthonic carvings/growths of varying ornateness (alien, dune), with the exceptions of wormholes which often look like gaping cosmic vaginas of space-time. the labyrinthe or maze is of course the ur corridor, and marks the climactic fate of all sci fi corridors, tracking the descent from civilised, manageable traffic (modernist planning) to anarchic pandemonium (primordial chaos) and the greatest thing about the london underground is that it can do both at any given time of the day.
posted by doobiedoo at 6:33 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


also, aren't all 2D sidescrollers essentially one HUGE ass corridor?
posted by doobiedoo at 6:49 AM on September 4, 2009


Nah. Mario goes outside and into different buildings.
posted by hippybear at 9:30 AM on September 4, 2009


I'm continually surprised by which of my posts will get large numbers of favorites. I thought maybe 5 or 6 at the most for this.
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2009


Sir you failed to get one from me, because this post is about corridors and not toilets. In the future, humans and other creatures appear to never have to take a piss. The entire list of sci fi toilets I can recall are:

1) The three seashells
2) ... nope that's it.

In particular, one wonders how toilets were arranged on ships with a mixture of humanoid and non-humanoid crews. Are they all unispecies? One can only begin to imagine the misunderstandings, not to mention the cleaning issues.
posted by vanar sena at 12:12 AM on September 5, 2009


vanar sena, it's too bad the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton is no longer there. The toilets in the Trek themed casino were the main attraction.
posted by localroger at 6:29 AM on September 5, 2009


The entire list of sci fi toilets I can recall are:

1) The three seashells
2) ... nope that's it.


2001.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:27 AM on September 5, 2009


9 science fiction toilets.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:03 PM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow... a veritable gaggle of shitters. Thanks Pronoiac.

2001

Didn't come to mind, but you're right. Is there anything that movie didn't have?

Speaking of ROUs though; I dimly recall an explanation of facilities in one of the Culture novels but I can't recall which book it was.
posted by vanar sena at 1:54 PM on September 5, 2009


Speaking of ROUs

"Rodents of unusual size? I don't believe they exist!"
posted by hippybear at 2:32 PM on September 5, 2009


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