“How many times have we been here before, Scully? Right here. So close to the truth and now with what we’ve seen and what we know to be right, back at the beginning with nothing.” — Fox Mulder, The X-Files: Fight the Future
Radhika: Just a little more than a year after starting this X-Files rewatch blog, we’re about to hit a major milestone: Revisiting the first movie. In honor of the occasion, we’ll be doing things differently at Apartment 42 Revisited by celebrating “Fight the Future Week,” starting Monday. Instead of the usual single post devoted to an episode, containing both summary and analysis, we’ll break up our look at Fight the Future by themes each day. It may not be the most straightforward way of discussing our rewatch, but let’s face it: Most of you are pretty familiar with the plot.
The X-Files started out as a relatively obscure, low-budget show, focusing on creatures that go bump in the night. It aired Friday nights on Fox, a channel that wasn’t even a decade old when the show launched. There was no indication of its forthcoming immense popularity.
But the show’s actors and its influences, such as The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Kolchak: The Night Stalker, drew an audience. That audience stuck around thanks to the smart writing and compelling monsters, which were pretty spectacular despite the low budget. Suddenly, this cult show was a pop culture juggernaut — by its fourth season, it received a post-Super Bowl slot and moved to Sunday nights. Mulder, Scully and the Cigarette Smoking Man became water cooler gossip. And as The X-Files drew closer to its fifth season, we learned a motion picture was coming.
The hubbub surrounding Fight the Future was pretty great, and the filmmakers’ attempts at secrecy — including printing the script on red paper — certainly contributed to it. The show was promoted everywhere. And the movie attracted a number of big names, from Martin Landau in a key role to musicians including Filter, The Cardigans and Bjork appearing on The X-Files: The Album, which was one of two soundtracks to the film.
I had just become an X-Phile during season five, and I was swept up in Fight the Future fever. Mulder and Scully spoke to me in ways no other characters on television had. I craved everything X-Files (and spent that summer doggedly catching up on the series from the beginning when cable channel FX started airing episodes). I had to see this movie. But I had also just moved to a new town a couple of months before its release, my parents didn’t care for the subject matter all that much and I didn’t really have a lot of new friends yet. So I wound up going with my parents’ friend, whom I think felt sorry for me, but I didn’t care about that. I had a chance to see my beloved agents on the big screen and that’s all that mattered.
If they weren’t already household names, Mulder and Scully were on the tips of everyone’s tongues by the summer of 1998. Mattel had released a special Barbie and Ken set in the style of Mulder and Scully. Action figures were released in conjunction with the film (you can see two of them in the header for this blog, purchased carefully by yours truly, who scoured the clearance sections of mall toy stores with precious allowance money).
The little show that could was officially something of a big deal.
Max: Season five and Fight the Future were the absolute apex of my X-Files insanity, and it was quite an amazing time to be a fan of the show. Mulder and Scully were everywhere, and I mean everywhere! Every day I would log onto AOL to see if anything regarding the film was posted, and by that time I had amassed a good amount of memorabilia, from the official guide to novels to the Entertainment Weekly special issue to the pull-out artworks inside of TV Guide by different artists commissioned in anticipation of the feature film.
By May, HBO aired a behind-the-scenes special where we got to see the most footage since the trailer began running in front of movies earlier in the year. I didn’t have HBO, but I had a family friend tape the special, and it got me really pumped up. Luckily, it was only about a month between the end of the fifth season and the release of the movie, so I didn’t have to wait long (but let’s be honest, it felt pretty long) to get my fix.
As it got closer and closer to release day, it definitely became a challenge to have to wait the weeks and then days, but it was worth it. Then, like magic, June 19th arrived.
The film was now out, and all that remained was when and how I was going to see it. I was at the Bat Mitzvah of my good friend Holly, the same one I just recently interviewed about her love of the show, and after the party wound down, my parents picked me up and surprised me by taking me to the old Amboy Multiplex to see Fight the Future! It was an incredible rush to see Mulder and Scully on the big screen, to hear the famously ominous notes of Mark Snow’s theme echo throughout the auditorium. Chris Carter, in several interviews promoting the film, spoke of it as a real gift to the fans that made a little show into a worldwide phenomena. I heartily agree with this, and it was a real treat indeed.
Come back on Monday for our very special “Fight the Future Week,” where we will shine our patented flashlights on the film.
Our schedule for the week is as follows:
- Monday, we will tackle how the film adds to and complicates the show’s already twisted mythology.
- Tuesday, will be the big day (especially for all you shippers) where we examine the Mulder and Scully relationship in the film.
- Wednesday, we pick apart the film and see if the motion picture aesthetic the show strived for in a lot of episodes was achieved in an actual motion picture.
- Thursday, we check in on Skinner, the Lone Gunmen, the Syndicate, and that cigarette smoking son of a bitch during our look at the supporting cast.
- Friday, we take a lighter approach with our favorite Fight The Future moments, everything wild and wacky.
It’s going to be a packed but fun week, and we look forward to you celebrating the film with us!