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Date of Award

Spring 2017


Access restricted for 5 years to EWU users with an active EWU NetID

Date Available to Non-EWU Users

June 2022

Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Communications


Communication Studies


This research explores a collection of science fiction films released in four consecutive years that are wholly unique among the genre, including Gravity (2013), Interstellar (2014), The Martian (2015), and Arrival (2016). These films advance themes first enacted in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Contact (1997). In fact, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, while based on a real event, set the stage for many of the more frantic scenes of the four films under study. The films are examined using genre analysis in order to first illuminate common criteria that are found within the films, and then to explore why this matters in a deeper, philosophical sense. From the first viewing of these films, it was clear that there were reoccurring themes that seemed unique within the science fiction genre and grappling with an under-discussed phenomenon in the human experience. Specifically, the process of grieving, as a precursor to moving forward after a profound loss, binds these films together. By using genre analysis, the results illuminated how these films might be responding to a profound social need. They can also be used to teach communication and the role it serves in processing grieving as a transformative human event.