Tales from the Loop concept art - Simon Stålenhag.
Tales from the Loop (2020) Concept art by Simon Stålenhag
Stories & Ideas

Fri 02 Oct 2020

ACMI Recommends: Tales from the Loop

ACMI Recommends Television
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Reece Goodwin

TV & Special Events Curator, ACMI

Technology meets melancholy in this devastatingly beautiful sci-fi series.

It’s been ten years since Never Let Me Go (2010) haunted our screens, yet it still feels strange referring to Mark Romanek’s heart-breaking romantic drama as a science fiction. That element of the story, although key, feels like a tent pole: it holds everything up but hides behind other things – a love triangle, pervasive melancholy and a gut-wrenching tragedy. But it is there, as a source of mystery and, later, anguish. 

Ten years on, Mark Romanek has coproduced Tales from the Loop and has directed the first episode, bringing many elements of Never Let Me Go back for a very welcome return. 

Tales from the Loop transports us to an American town where the main industry is operating a mysterious piece of tech called the Loop. What it does isn't explained, but its very existence invites us to suspend disbelief. Strange things will happen and we won't fully understand the hows or whys, but because of this curious setup, we’ll come for the ride. 

The science-fiction element of the series is ever-present, but like Never Let Me Go, it lurks in the background allowing more human elements to come to the fore. There’s an exquisite sadness imbued throughout the whole series. There are quiet heartbreaks, sad reminiscences, devastating losses, and the everyday tragedy of time passing; lost.

And time is important. Based on the art and books of Simon Stålenhag, the production design merges mid-century architecture with retro-futuristic art design. The result is beautiful ambiguity. It presses our nostalgic buttons while also drawing into question when the series is set (and whether it even matters). And if this vision is a past view of the future, has that slipped through our fingers as well?

Tales from the Loop gives us so much to think about, but much more to feel. Surprisingly, this science-fiction series about technology is a beautiful reminder of our capacity for emotion, vulnerability and compassion.

– Reece Goodwin, ACMI Curator (TV & Special Events)

Tales from the Loop is available to stream on Prime Video.

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