Cover of Æon Flux DVD box set (2005)
|Genre||Avant-garde, Science fiction|
|Created by||Peter Chung|
|Voices of||Denise Poirier
John Rafter Lee
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||16 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Japhet Asher
|Running time||Season 1: 2 minutes (6 parts)
Season 2: 3–5 minutes (5 episodes)
Season 3: 30 minutes with commercials (10 episodes)
|Original network||MTV (Locomotion in Latin America)|
|Original release||September 1991 – October 10, 1995|
|Preceded by||Liquid Television|
Æon Flux / / is an avant-garde science fiction animated television series that aired on MTV in various forms throughout the 1990s, with film, comic book, and video game adaptations following thereafter. It premiered in 1991 on MTV's Liquid Television experimental animation show as a six-part serial of short films, followed in 1992 by five individual short episodes. In 1995, a season of ten half-hour episodes aired as a stand-alone series, rated TV-14. Æon Flux was created by Korean American animator Peter Chung.
The live action movie Æon Flux, loosely based upon the series and starring Charlize Theron, was released in theaters on December 2, 2005, preceded in November of that year by a tie-in video game of the same name based mostly on the movie but containing some elements of the original TV series.
Æon Flux is set in a bizarre, dystopian future world. The title character is a tall, leather-clad secret agent from the nation of Monica, skilled in assassination and acrobatics. Her mission is to infiltrate the strongholds of the neighboring country of Bregna, which is led by her sometimes-nemesis and sometimes-lover Trevor Goodchild. Monica represents a dynamic anarchist society, while Bregna embodies a police state—referred to on one occasion as a republic by Goodchild. Although Bregna is shown to be repressive, in the first full-length episode, "Utopia or Deuteranopia?", Clavius, the president deposed by Goodchild, is described by a questioning journalist as having been democratically elected. In the same episode, an upper house of parliament is also mentioned by the character Gildemere.
Although continuity is virtually non-existent in the original shorts — Chung made some adjustments for the 2005 DVD collection to improve this — the primary unchanging elements in the episodes are the two main characters of Trevor and Æon. For the DVD release, the main series was rearranged and grouped by director, making them more continual. A fourth season of half-hour episodes was considered, but never materialized. In late 2005, around the time the DVD collection was released, Chung announced plans to work on another Æon Flux project. In an online interview conducted after the release of the film, Chung indicated that it was to be a made-for-DVD animated feature.
Some authors consider the title a reference to the Gnostic notion of an Æon, seeing the influence in the use of a demiurge in one episode, and that the relationship between the main characters parallels the Valentinian notion of a syzygy. Peter Chung, the creator, says the main character's name "started out just being the name of the cartoon and then eventually it stuck, so that's her name." The character Aeon Flux was not meant to be part of the series, but MTV pushed to keep her in it, despite Aeon dying at the end of the first batch of shorts. Chung intended the cartoon to be a reaction to heroic Hollywood action films, not as a spoof, but rather as a way to make the audience wonder about the wider context of these action heroes and evoke thought. Aeon Flux is therefore notable as one of the very few American adult animated series to be a drama rather than a comedy.
One peculiarity of the early shorts is the violent death of Æon Flux, which occurs in each installment. According to the commentary by Peter Chung in the 2005 DVD release, she dies in every short episode after the initial six-part pilot because he never intended to make more episodes and felt the best solution was to have her keep dying; by contrast, she only "dies" once in the half-hour series. Often her death is caused by fate, while other times she dies due to her own incompetence. One of the half-hour episodes, "A Last Time for Everything", ends with the original Æon being killed and replaced by an identical clone. (In the episode "Chronophasia", Æon is apparently killed repeatedly by a monstrous baby, but the reality of these events is ambiguous. In "Ether Drift Theory", Æon is suspended indefinitely in an inanimate state, but remains technically alive.)
Chung describes the style of the show as "academic": "I was interested in experimenting with visual narrative, telling a story without dialogue and also trying to create a style of telling a story with animation that wasn't influenced by the usual kinds of things that you see." Graphic violence and sexuality, including fetishism and domination, are frequently depicted in Æon Flux. In the featurette Investigation: The History of Æon Flux (included on the 2005 DVD release), Peter Chung says the visual style was also influenced by the animated series Rugrats; Chung had worked on Rugrats prior to Æon Flux and had been extremely frustrated by the limitations of the characters.
With the exceptions of the exclamation "No!" in the pilot and the single spoken word plop in the episode "Leisure", all of the short episodes are completely devoid of intelligible speech. Instead, the sound track employs a variety of sound effects, including sounds such as laughter, grunts, and sighs. It would not be until the beginning of Season 3 that dialogue would be used much more extensively.
The music and sound design for the original television series was created by Drew Neumann. Peter Stone (of Xorcist) served as assistant sound editor for the original MTV series. The music was later compiled on an album titled Eye Spy, Ears Only Confidential. The initials "AF" were used on song titles and in the credits to replace the words "Æon Flux" due to the lack of licensing permissions from MTV. The album includes two discs worth of material from the series and also from the defunct original (1995) PC and PlayStation videogame project. A CD entitled Æon Flux: Music from the Animated Series was included as a bonus with certain editions of the 2005 series compilation DVD that included 11 songs from the show with dialogue snippets featuring Æon and Trevor in-between the songs as standalone tracks. The extended fully remastered soundtrack Eye Spy: Declassified, Freedom of Information Act was re-released in 2010 as high quality MP3s with new artwork by Peter Chung and a previously unreleased third volume of music.
- Denise Poirier: Æon Flux
- John Rafter Lee: Trevor Goodchild
- Julia Fletcher: Benzenhurst
- Steffan Chirazi: Bambara
- Alex Fernandez: Aemon
- Paul Raci: Onan
- Susan Turner-Cray: Hostess Judy
- Japhet Asher: Clavius
- Andrea Carvajal: Una
- Morgan Creaves: Rordy
- Shawn Cuddy: Celia
- Joseph Drelich: Clavius
- Taichi Erskine: Boy
- Kelly Gabriel: Lindze
- Christianne Hauber: Principal Lorna
- Mark Mars: Sinnah
- Matt K. Miller: Ilbren
- C.W. Morgan: Bargeld
- Adam Paul: Nadir Zenith
- Elizabeth Sampson: Hedrick
- Patrick Stretch: Gildemere
- Grace Whitefeather: Sybil
- Phil Brotherton: Additional Voices
- Jack Fletcher: Additional Voices
- Frank Ottiwell:Additional Voices
- Andrew Philpot: Additional Voices
- Max Redmond: Additional Voices
- R. Carl Voight: Additional Voices
MTV was the exclusive broadcaster of the series in the United States. In Canada, the shorts aired on MuchMusic and the third season aired a year or so later on the youth-oriented network YTV in a late-night timeslot during a period when the network was trying to appeal to an older audience. In Australia and New Zealand, during the early- to mid-1990s, the Liquid Television shorts and the first series were shown on the program Eat Carpet on SBS television. In South East Asia the third season was broadcast in 1996 via the MTV South East Asia channel, which at the time was free to anyone with a satellite dish. In the UK, MTV first showed the shorts and the 30-minute episodes from 1992. In the mid-1990s, the BBC showed the Liquid Television shorts, which included all of the Æon Flux shorts. Locomotion played the third season repeatedly, between 1998–1999 and 2002–2003, in Spanish and Portuguese for Latin America. The series was also aired on Norwegian channel NRK2, a sister channel to state channel NRK, alongside The Maxx, Phantom 2040, and The Head in the late 1990s. Teletoon Detour also aired it with Maxx.
In the lead-up to the 2006 international release of Æon Flux on DVD and the live-action movie, MTV UK replayed the third season of Æon Flux from October to November in 2005. The episodes were played at 2 a.m. on weeknights. MTV Australia followed with replays of the third season beginning in December 2005, scheduled at 1 a.m. on weeknights. The episodes were titled Æon Flux Animation and were not played in the original order from 1995.
As of 2009, MTV2 shows Aeon Flux shorts as a part of the block MTV2 Legit. During January and February 2011, Aeon Flux was aired once again in El Salvador on VH1, in English language with Spanish subtitles. Since August 2, 2016, the series returned to MTV Classic.
The entire series was issued as three VHS tapes between 1996 and 1998, entitled Æon Flux, Mission Infinite, and Operative Terminus. These were later collected in a box set. A few of the shorts also appeared on a Best of Liquid Television compilation around the same time. The first VHS volume (which contained four of the half hour shows, and all of the shorts, sans "Night") was later released in 1997 on a now out-of-print DVD that was distinct as it did not utilize any menus.
With the 2005 release of the live-action movie, the complete series including the shorts and the episodic series was collected in a DVD box set, which was released on November 22, 2005. The set features director's cut versions of several episodes, with added special effects, and in a few cases, new scenes written by Peter Chung and recorded by the original voice actors in order to improve character continuity between episodes (this according to a note by Chung included with the DVD set). Among the many changes to the dialogue in the DVD release, the voice of the character Clavius in the episode "Utopia or Deuteranopia", originally recorded by voice actor Joseph Drelich, was re-recorded by series executive producer Japhet Asher for the 2005 release.
In some releases, the first disc of the DVD set opens with a CGI short created to promote the movie's tie-in video game, with Flux taking on the likeness of the Charlize Theron version. The short, which ran about the same length as one of the Liquid Television shorts, sees Flux conducting an unclear mission, killing many Breen soldiers while pursuing some small, insect-like robots. In a throwback to the ongoing theme of the original shorts, the character is ultimately killed due to human error.
The PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld system received a 2-Universal Media Disc set release of the complete animated series in January 2008. This set included all ten digitally remastered episodes and the original MTV pilot and shorts.
CyberpunkReview.com gave the series a glowing review, saying the series was "one of the really creative shows to come out of United States Television. This show validates the purpose of cable TV – we get to see talented folks like Peter Chung let loose their creative energies to produce something truly unique".
Nina Munteanu of Europa SF reviewed and compared both the movie and the series; she said that while the movie sacrificed character development in pursuit of a coherent story, the series chose the path of deep characters and themes. She summed up by saying "While the film’s moralistic tale resonated and lingered like a muse’s long forgotten poem, the subversive kick of the comic series (which I thankfully saw later) struck deep chords and left me breathless with questions".
In other media
An Æon Flux Hollywood adaptation, which was released in the United States on December 2, 2005, provoked controversy among Æon Flux fans over initial reports that the film adaptation seemed to bear little resemblance to the original full-length animated series or the Liquid Television shorts, as no one involved with the original television series had a role in the making of the film. While it does take a number of major liberties with the character and concept of the series (such as making the character of Una into Æon's sister and giving Trevor a previously-unmentioned brother who plays a major role), the film also incorporates characters, themes, gadgets, and even specific scenes as featured in the TV version, most notably a reenactment of the TV show's most iconic image: Æon trapping a fly in her eyelashes. The movie was a critical and box office disappointment.
The creator of Æon Flux, Peter Chung, gave an interview to the "Monican Spies" community on LiveJournal in 2006. He was asked many questions about Æon Flux and her universe, including how he really felt about the movie. Chung called the movie "a travesty," relating that its public screening made him feel "helpless, humiliated, and sad." He described his primary objection to the film as being its portrayal of the Aeon and Trevor characters and their re-imagined history and relationship. Chung went on to state, "Ms. Flux does not actually appear in the movie."
A "graphic novel" called Æon Flux: The Herodotus File (actually consisting of an assortment of false documents from the world of Æon Flux and a short story-board style sequence described as "security camera footage" rather than a comic strip story) was published in 1995, which vaguely explained some of the show's setting and backstory, including how Trevor and Æon met. One hint suggested in the series and confirmed in the graphic novel is the character's foot fetish modeling; it is suggested she augments her income posing barefoot for magazines devoted to the fetish. The graphic novel fell out of print in the years following the show's conclusion, but was temporarily re-issued in 2005 with new cover art to tie-in with the movie.
As another tie-in to the movie, Dark Horse Comics published a four-issue comic book mini-series, collected as a trade paperback, based upon the film versions of the characters. Although the characters and situations were based on the newer movie versions, the penciling technique deliberately emulated Peter Chung's unique style from the TV series.
Though not directly connected to the series, a live-action/animated Diet Pepsi commercial titled "Something Wrong?" was directed by Peter Chung and starred Malcolm McDowell as a Trevor Goodchild-like character and Cindy Crawford as an Æon Flux-like character. It was made for Super Bowl XXX in 1996, but was pulled and later aired for broadcast exclusive to MTV. "Something Wrong?" is available online at YouTube.
A PlayStation game by Cryo Interactive based upon the series was advertised in the mid-1990s, but never released, pictures of which can be found on various sites. It was later adapted into the title Pax Corpus after being stripped of all copyrighted association with Æon Flux.
To coincide with the release of the 2005 movie, Majesco Games and developer Terminal Reality released a video game adaptation on Xbox and PlayStation 2. While primarily based on the film, elements from both the movie and the television series are included, as the game sets out to be something of a canonical link between the two—although the Æon character in the game is modeled only after Theron and is also voiced by her.
- First broadcast as a series of six 2 minute parts, which were combined into a pilot episode of 12 minutes for the VHS and DVD releases of the series.
- Kronke, David (August 8, 1995). "Inventive but convoluted 'Aeon Flux' on MTV". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- "THEY'RE CHANGING AEON'S TOON". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-11-12.[dead link]
- "About Aeon Flux". MTV. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Mentioned in the episode "Ether Drift Theory": "Ahhh, the Republic's tax dollars hard at work."
- From Æon Flux DVD release, discs one and two
- Voorhees, Patty (January 4, 2006). "The Peter Chung Interview!!!!". Monican Spies. LiveJournal.
- Aeon Flux: All You've Ever Needed From Sci-Fi, by Alison Veneto, SMRT TV, April 24, 2006, "...Aeon Flux has a serious Gnostic bent. The ancient mystery religion is where they got the concepts of aeons and the demiurge, amongst other things."
- Nina Munteanu (6 Dec 2012). "Aeon Flux: motion picture and animation review". Europa SF. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
- Ed Stastny (November 1992), "Interview with Peter Chung", Sound magazine, retrieved June 25, 2016
- Animated Series Soundtrack
- Æon Flux Motion Picture Soundtrack
- "MTV Classic bringing Beavis and Butt-Head, Aeon Flux and music videos back on-air". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- 1997 Aeon Flux DVD at TVShowsOnDVD.com
- Denise Poirier (Actor), John Rafter Lee (Actor), Howard E. Baker (Director) (November 22, 2005). Æon Flux: The Complete Animated Collection (DVD). Paramount/MTV.
- Todd Gilchrist (November 23, 2005). "Aeon Flux: The Complete Animated Collection". IGN. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
- SFAM (March 25, 2006). "CyberpunkReview = Aeon Flux". CyberpunkReview.com. Retrieved 2013-07-28.
- Mars, Mark; Singer, Eric (December 1, 1995). Æon Flux: The Herodotus File. MTV Publishing. ISBN 978-0-671-54524-6.
- Mars, Mark; Singer, Eric (November 29, 2005). Æon Flux: The Herodotus File. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-1-4165-1697-2.
- Kennedy, Mike; Green II, Timothy (May 3, 2006). Æon Flux. Dark Horse Comics. ISBN 978-1-59307-528-6.
- "Something Wrong?" at YouTube
- "Video Game Graveyard". GameSpot.com. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
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