TechWizard Feature: Third Taki Plaza Talk – Future of Science, Tech in Film
The third Taki Plaza Lecture, “MOVIES IN TAKI: Films and the future of science and technology,” was held from July 3 to 7, 2023 at Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza (Taki Plaza), Tokyo Tech’s flagship exchange hub. The event was co-organized by the Student Support Center’s Student Success Support Section, the Student Support Division’s Support Planning Group, and the Tokyo Tech Alumni Association.
This three-day event was one of several sessions comprising the Student Success Support Project, an initiative supported by Tokyo Tech alumnus and Gurunavi Inc. Chairman and Director Hisao Taki, which aims to encourage students who are actively engaged in various activities at Taki Plaza.
Under the theme of “Films and the future of science and technology,” this event included the screening of films related to Tokyo Tech and movies that have received high international acclaim on the large monitors in Taki Plaza. On each of the three days, Associate Professor Yuto Koizumi from the Institute for Liberal Arts (ILA) provided commentary on each of the films, giving away popcorn and drinks to the first 50 people in attendance. Quizzes on the film themes were also organized to encourage interaction and make the event more enjoyable for the participating students. All movies were screened in English with Japanese subtitles.
Before each screening, two Student Success Support Project organizers — 4th-year student Risako Yanagase and 3rd-year student Namkyong Kim — offered their opening remarks in both English and Japanese. Koizumi also offered points worthy of note before each film. Before the screening of Gattaca on July 7, he heightened the viewers’ anticipation by explaining, “This movie has many impressive scenes of the night sky. Watching these scenes today on Tanabata, the annual Star Festival, will be particularly worthwhile.”
All the participants seemed to enjoy the screenings in their own way. Some watched the films with popcorn in one hand and a drink in the other, while others quietly chatted with friends while watching. Yet others viewed the films from beginning to end with serious expressions on their faces.
For each film, ILA’s Koizumi provided plenty of additional details that kept the audience well informed. In addition to explaining the content of Big Hero 6, he also mentioned that the original concept was a less well-known Marvel comic which was discontinued after one year. Koizumi also introduced to participants Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie produced by Marvel Studios, as a related film that he would recommend.
Regarding Ready Player One, Koizumi spoke about the actors’ performances, feelings, and facial expressions, as well as the significance of a memorable scene towards the end of film in which a virtual reality “egg” also begins to glow in the real world.
When discussing Gattaca, Koizumi not only highlighted various visual representations in the film, but also noted that NASA had deemed it the most realistic science fiction movie of our time. He also posed to his audience some of the tough questions that Roger Ebert, one of the most influential film critics in the US, had asked. “Do parents hope that genetic engineering produces the perfect child? Should we roll the genetic dice and then place all our bets on raising that genetically engineered child?”
Each film commentary was easy to understand and provided a wealth of knowledge to the participants, deepening their understanding of the works and sparking interest in other related films.