Adrian Graham

Man in t-shirt making phone call

The Kid Detective

The Kid Detective is a Neo-Noir detective story from 2020 is about a detective who is haunted by a case that he could never solve as a child prodigy. As an adult he is still working in the same small town, his life on hold, respected by no one, working on trivial cases, and still traumatised by the past. It’s a film about the loss of innocence and not being able to grow up. The film has been compared to Brick. I think it is more together, and a more satisfying story. It follows in a long cinematic tradition, from Under the Silver Lake, going back to The Long Goodbye, and The Third Man. These are stories about shattered loyalty, people in positions of trust who are not what they appear to be, realising ones own limitations – lost or alienated protagonists observing the world around them. The Kid Detective confidently navigates and expands on this story form. It’s a homage that surprises and adds a contemporary twist, while staying clear of cliché or delving into parody.

The five stages of British science fiction and fantasy

  1. The horror of scientific invention. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) is a remarkable gothic novel and science fiction and fantasy story. Frankenstein poses one of the biggest questions – what if a person becomes ‘god’ and creates life? What happens then?
  2. The uncertain promise. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) the society of the future is refined and made more efficient, much like a factory production line. But in its attainment of the shiny new arena, humanity will lose something of itself. In Brave New World the culture of this future society is more shocking than the technology it possesses. The whole of society has turned into Frankenstein’s monster.
  3. A retreat from the abyss. J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937), and The Lord of the Rings (1968) is an escape from industrialisation and mass destruction of the two world wars. It’s a return to a simpler world, the eternal fight of good against evil. The Gormenghast trilogy, by Mervyn Peake, includes Titus Groan (1946), Gormenghast (1950), and Titus Alone (1959). It’s a series about the pomposity of rites and rituals, much of it takes place in a isolated and decaying society, followed by a visit to a futureopolis where the protagonist wonders if Gormenghast might have been the byproduct of his imagination (a lost world, much like the pre-War England might have seemed to many English people after the Second World War).
  4. A new fear. In the post-War world the only certainty is uncertainty. In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) the good intentions of English socialism have been hijacked by hate politics, turning a rational-based movement for social improvement and enlightenment into a quasi-religious hate cult. There is no ideological right or wrong. The only truth is the party exercising its power. It’s not just the overzealous implementation of bad ideas or manipulations of language that are causing the problems... In John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids (1951) nature itself has conspired against humanity. Lights in the sky are blinding the population and walking plants are unleashing their own retribution. This is the eco-disaster science fiction and fantasy story. Harking back to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, our inventiveness has a sting in its tail.
  5. The magician. In a world of depressing problems, and an encroaching new millennium, we need an escape from reality, to go back to that magical place where heroes possess special powers. J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series is not quite a full-on return to the shires of The Hobbit, but nonetheless, Harry Potter takes place in an old-fashioned and ‘reassuringly’ wood-panelled environment, a private school for magicians. The hero is a kind of child Hobbit, an ordinary person, who isn’t actually ordinary. This echoes our own notions and hopes about ourselves, that although we are ordinary there might be something special, magical even, about us.
  6. How much does the world really change?

    For someone from a deprived 1920s British working class slum, a visit to a wealthy person’s house in 1921 would be an eye-opener in itself, let along being transported to 2021. Someone landing is 2021 Las Vegas is going to get a very different experience than someone finding themselves in the Lake District in 2021. What this means is that people live within personal experiences of relative ‘advancement’ and ‘progress’. 2021 would look a lot less intimidating for a wealthy Manhattan socialite from 1921 than it might perhaps be for a rural farmworker. There are people today who are living ‘in the future’ in some respects. Not literally of course, but they are enjoying things in their life that most of us will only begin to access in the future. But, a significant amount of the environment (especially in the UK) hasn’t changed as much as we might think. How much of 2021 would only look superficially different to someone from 1921? The cars are more advanced but work in much the same way. Would it be such a shock? If we were travelling 100 years into the future, the culture might shock us more than the technology.


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