Foundation: the future of humanity on AppleTV +

Foundation: the future of humanity on AppleTV +


In the same days in which Italian cinemas welcome Villeneuve’s awaited transposition of Dune, the world of streaming entertainment is enriched with another production long supported by fans of classic sci-fi: Foundation. Starting from September 24th, the series inspired by Isaac Asimov's Cycle of Foundations kicks off on AppleTV +, one of the symbols of literary science fiction, considered together with Dune as the pillar of the space opera.

Dealing with a name so charismatic is not a simple challenge, given how Asimov is a fundamental author for modern sci-fi, already approached several times by the cinema, as demonstrated by Bicentennial Man, Io, Robot. With Foundation we wanted to aim at the fulcrum of Asimov's fiction, approaching the heart of his literary universe, a decidedly arduous challenge.

Foundation Before judging the outcome of Foundation, of which we have seen the first two episodes , it seems correct to make a clarification. Transposing a literary corpus such as that of the Cycle of Foundations into a dimension other than the literary one is a titanic undertaking, burdened above all by the difference in narrative grammar between literature and television series. The original work, by its nature, was fundamentally reflective, with few openings to an action soul, preferring to focus on diplomacy, planning and wide-ranging plots.

Unattractive dynamics for today's mainstream serial audience. To this, we must add the consideration that a literary saga that takes place over a time horizon of several centuries, also created to glue all of Asimov's production through essential references, does not make it easy to identify an ideal starting point for a serial transposition. . The choices made by David S. Goyer and his theme, therefore, will certainly be contested by the most uncompromising fans of Asimov, but to appreciate these productions we must focus on the identity of these projects: the adaptation.

Foundation: the nightmare of the future

Adaptation means taking a work, grasping its fundamental aspects and borrowing them in a different narrative context. Inevitably, some elements will be excluded or changed for narrative purposes, but it is part of the game. You can cry out heresy, condemning every choice, but after years of Marvel Cinematic Universe, transpositions and adaptations we should have learned to live correctly works like Foundation, otherwise it would be wiser to make a courageous choice: to go further, avoid these adaptations and continue to enjoy the immutable charm of the book.

It would still be a shame, because adaptations such as Foundation, while allowing themselves some narrative freedoms of a certain importance, allow us to decline in a modern key aspects that inevitably age badly. Asimov wrote this work in a profoundly different social context, he recounted its contemporaneity by offering a possible key to future evolution, but everything was analyzed with the eyes of a man of his time. Goyer has chosen to take the narrative essence of Foundation and give it a modern tone, enriching it with new suggestions, which starting from Asimov's dogmas could find a new dimension.

This is why some characters will appear first, while others are totally absent, thanks to having chosen to be part of the Cycle of Foundations at a point where Hari Seldon's theories are already a reality.

This is what Gaal Donnick (Lou Llobell), a young man, discovers mathematics of a remote planet of the Empire, which thanks to his incredible mind is summoned by the famous Hari Seldon (Jared Harris), theorist of psycho-history, a mathematical science that allows us to predict, with a certain certainty, future socio-cultural evolutions. A science that scares the imperial court, where the three imperial clones of Cleon (Dawn, Day and Sunset) see in this revelation a threat to the established order.

Seldon's aim, in reality, is to render less devastating is the inevitable and now imminent collapse, creating a Foundation in charge of drafting a Galactic Encyclopedia, to preserve knowledge and prevent the arrival of a long dark age. The mathematician's ideas clash with the vision of the Emperor of Eto Demerzel (Laura Birn), his prime minister, who after having Seldon arrested, condemned him to exile on Terminus, together with his followers, allowing him to carry out his project, away from the imperial worlds.

A decision that Seldon had foreseen, considered a necessary step for the creation of his Foundation and to give future humanity a hope of surviving the dark times that are coming.

The first two episodes of Foundation confront us with this reality, focusing on the construction of the current imperial society. The pomp with which the world-capital of Trantor is beautifully rendered reflects the idea of ​​almost divine power of the Emperor, but hides within it the signs of the impending collapse. Seldon's voice, renamed Corvo not by chance, is frightening because it has traces of inevitable truth, and as such is perceived by the imperial clone Giorno as a threat to be suffocated.

Religion, science and nightmares

In Foundation, the confrontation between the imperial clones and Seldon is the synthesis of a series of fascinating themes, which involve religion, power and fear of tomorrow. The imperial trio represents both a messianic-toned trinity, in which Giorno is the dominant tone, and a faded incarnation of immortality and eternal glory, which strongly contrasts with what is represented by Seldon and his psychohistory. Goyer captures these elements and intertwines them in a two-episode pilot, in which the emotional impulses of the characters are defined in a simple but evident way, seeking in the audience an empathy that makes them feel part of this future universe.

It is difficult not to see an echo of 9/11 in the tragic event that strikes Trantor, not only visually but also morally, with a reaction that invites viewers to question themselves about recent history and ask themselves, within the Foundation, if the the much feared collapse has not yet arrived.

The feeling of imminent end, linked to Seldon's thin hope of 'softening the fall', is the emotional tension upon which Foundation is built. The efforts of the imperial power to preserve the status quo at all costs and the desperate search for hope for future generations embodied by the Foundation are the two driving forces of a series that investigates the human soul, the perfect opportunity to let an analysis emerge. profound social dynamics and the impact on the masses, playing admirably on the impact of an imperial doctrine that pilots the emotions of the people, relying on the lowest human impulses.

An emotional richness that embellishes the plot of Foundation , enhancing the social presuppositions of psycho-history. A necessity that forces the series to indulge in sudden exchanges of perspective between the various protagonists, not always spot on as timing, but functional to portray a decadent society.

Essential narrative momentum, which goes hand in hand with a ' a complex world building operation, considered as the original paper was particularly poor in terms of details, limiting itself to outline the essential aspects of the future galaxy. While guiding us in the maze of Trantor during Seldon's escape, Asimov briefly described the environments, only as a function of history. Finding itself having to bring to screen a complex social ecosystem like that of the Cycle of Foundations, the Foundation's production has recreated a credible and compelling Trantor. The design of the imperial capital combines a future style with the presence of classic elements, a symbolism of attachment to the past that plays a central role in the narrative dynamics of the series.

The first two episodes of Foundation are a starting point that aims to give viewers a social vision of the Empire, seen from the eyes of the protagonists, but still perfect for understanding the motivations of Seldon and Garrick. There is a certain slowness in the more narrative parts, an inevitable legacy of Asimov's narrative, but which is nevertheless well managed by an excellent cast, in which Harris and Lee Pace, the face of Brother Giorno excel.

The future of humanity at the edge of the galaxy

Harris's Seldon is a man who is aware of his role, capable of accepting every nuance, but still the master of his own choices. His moves may seem like deus ex machina at certain points, but this feeling curiously comes right where the series tries to stay true to the paper original, letting Harris' charisma and flawless acting convince the viewer, to lead him beyond this perplexity.

The role of Pace, representing the face of a trinity, must be able to reconcile his acting with that of Terrence Mann (Brother Tramonto) and the young Cassian Bilton (Brother Alba) . The Cleon of Peace is regal, authoritarian and perfectly embodies the classic imperial vis, where power must be shown openly but also wisely exercised in the shadows. Pace moves easily in his adherence to the imperial trinity, creates an almost paternal relationship with Brother Alba and shows a certain conflict with Brother Tramonto. The three Brothers are separate parts of the same individual, metaphorically representing the change of an individual in the course of his existence, a concept that leads Pace to play the role of the mature man, at the height of his existence but with the years of decline ahead of him, obsessed with preserving its power.

Visually, Foundation is a joy to behold. The characterization of the different worlds and the technological aspect present us a variegated and human galaxy, divided between the excesses of the capital world, in which imperial opulence is perceived, and the peripheral worlds, which show different examples of humanity.

An enhancement of the central cultural individuality within the spirit of the Cycle of Foundations which is therefore rightly preserved and valued also in the Foundation, which makes the most of this dogma of Asimov's books to offer spectators a priceless visual spectacle, an excellent ticket for a series that represents a challenge for AppleTV, which after the success of series such as The Morning Show and Ted Lasso has decided to aim for an ambitious project to bring high-level sci-fi into its schedule.

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