FOX’s 201 Days of X-Files is well underway with the revival on the horizon, but what about those who’ve never been introduced to the 90s paranormal phenomenon? 201 episodes is a lot to get through, but luckily The X-Files has two feature films at its disposal – although, a lot of fans seem to discount the second one altogether. Instead, it’s the 1998 debut The X-Files: Fight the Future that perfectly encompasses the series as a whole. It manages to serve both as an extended episode for fans of the series, and a plethora of sci-fi conspiracy for the casual viewer.
The X-Files: Fight the Future is a team effort from those who worked on the show, with series executive producer and director Rob Bowman taking the directing reigns, and creator Chris Carter and writer/producer Frank Spotnitz creating the story, with Carter himself writing the screenplay.
Eight characters from the show appear in the film: FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), FBI Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), the Well Manicured-Man (John Neville), the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and The Lone Gunmen (Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood and Tom Braidwood). The film also introduced famous Hollywood actors Martin Landau and Blythe Danner. This broke Carter’s original tradition for the show of casting unknown actors at the beginning of the series through Duchovny and Anderson, and guest roles littered throughout to make the show more believable.
The story occurs between seasons five (finale episode ‘The End’) and six (premiere episode ‘The Beginning), and is based solely on the series’ famous extra-terrestrial mythology. FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have been reassigned after the closure of The X-Files, and are investigating the bombing of a federal building and the destruction of criminal evidence. What they discover is what appears to be a larger government conspiracy to that of which they already believed, an attempt to hide the planned alien colonisation of Earth.
If there was ever an introduction to The X-Files without having to watch an actual episode of the series, this is it. Whether you’ve been brought up on the show, or it’s all new to you; The X-Files: Fight the Future fits not only the tone and aesthetic of the show, but also the 90s era in general. With a combination of doubt against the US government, the belief in life outside of our planet and the compilation of 90s musicians on the films soundtrack – it gives off such a unique vibe and helped the show become a cultural touchstone of the decade.
This unique vibe is a commendation to the writers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, as they were able to write a film that panders both to an audience that have never seen The X-Files and to diehard fans. It doesn’t spoil anything if you haven’t seen the show, yet it makes complete sense and answers questions once you’re up to the point in the series where the film bridges the gap between the two seasons it’s placed between.
It’s not just the show in general that you get introduced to either. You’re also introduced to the famous believer-meets-skeptic relationship of Mulder and Scully – a character dynamic template that is still in heavy use today. You get an instinctual representation of their relationship throughout not just the film, but the series as a whole. Both as FBI partners and best friends, the film doesn’t shy away from the more emotional aspects and romantic growth of their relationship – as it does similarly on the show.
The film also highlights the show’s dependency on music, including the work of the series composer Mark Snow on the score. Carter wanted a very minimal score to accompany the film. Nothing too grandiose, more like ambient music to match the film’s tone perfectly.
The same goes for the film’s accompanying soundtrack, The X-Files: The Album. Only three of the fourteen songs are heard within the film, with the album’s producer David Was intent on using the album as an additional piece to match the film’s overall feel. The album consists mainly of covers and reworkings of earlier material, with the goal being to let the artists stray away from their usual sound to fit the show’s aesthetic appeal. The album featured bands such as Foo Fighters, Filter, Ween, Noel Gallagher and Soul Coughing, with many of those musicians being contributors to the accompanying soundtrack album to the show, Songs in the Key of X: Music from and Inspired by the X-Files.
The X-Files: Fight the Future is the definitive introduction to the series. It sets the tone of what’s before it and what’s to come right off the bat, and serves as a creative testament to a collaboration of talent that is rarely seen in both film and television today.
The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998), directed by Rob Bowman, is released on Blu-ray disc and DVD in the UK by 20th Century Fox Entertainment, Certificate 15.