Tomorrow might be best known as ‘Star Wars’ Day – nice play there May 4th – but for those not so invested in the global smash-hit franchise, but still interested in space and the universe, it’s also National Space Day. Not only that, but National Astronaut Day follows on the 5th so it’s a double (okay, triple) whammy! To mark NSD and NAD, Fandor are streaming some of the best space-themed films of recent decades, so why not indulge in your love of the great unknown and watch a few over the coming days? Here are just a few of Fandor’s top picks.
The Titan Find
Directed by William Malone and released in 1985, TTF sees a crew of scientists arrive on a far, cold planet to study some artifacts and find that their rivals, the Germans, are already there. When they seek their help after a failed landing, they only find the Germans’ bodies, obviously slaughtered by one of the archaic creatures, awoken to new life, who is now hunting them.
In the summer of 1977, NASA sent Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 on an epic journey into interstellar space. Both spacecrafts carry a golden record album, a massive compilation of images and sounds embodying the best of Planet Earth. According to Carl Sagan, who worked on the golden records and met his future wife Annie Druyan while doing so, “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.” The 2010 film, in the words of director Penny Lane, is “a love letter to my fellow traveller.”
John Carpenter’s 1974 feature tells the story of a futuristic scout ship travelling far in advance of colony ships. Armed with Exponential Thermosteller Bombs, the ship prowls the darkest reaches of space on a mission to seek out and destroy unstable planets ahead of the colonist, but the ship itself is threatened by one of its own thinking and talking bombs which, lodged in the bay, puts the lives of everyone on board in jeopardy.
The Girl From Monday
A being from a distant constellation called Monday, assumes the human form of a beautiful young woman in order to look for her friend who arrived years before and whom she suspects is in trouble. Tragic, beautiful and funny, TGFM, released in 2005 and directed by Hal Hartley, is a fake science-fiction movie about the way we live now.
Painting The Way to the Moon
This 2014 film, directed by Jacob Akira Okada, brings to the screen the story of how back in the 1980’s, Ed Belbruno, a Princeton mathematician, was determined – obsessed – with figuring out a new way of space travel and how, as a keen painter, it took him five years, and a turn towards his canvas, to make the breakthrough he was looking for.
A new space race is born between NASA and the ESA when Charlie Brownsville, Hank Morrison and Dr. Casey Cook compete against an artificially intelligence robot to find out what’s up there on the red planet. MARS follows these three astronauts on the first manned mission to our galactic neighbour. On the way they experience life-threatening accidents, self doubts, obnoxious reporters and the boredom of extended space travel. This romantic comedy is told in the playful style of a graphic novel, using a unique animation process that director Geoff Marslett developed specifically for the film.
Looking deep into exploration and as research and development into the potential and plans for people to travel to the red planet continues, the feature, released in 2011 and directed by Geoff Marslett, is a timely, reflective look at some important questions that scientists can and do ask and will likely hope to answer in the coming months and years such as why do we want to know what is out there, and how do and will we react to what we find?
Chariots of the Gods
Nominated for Best Documentary at the 1971 Academy Awards, this film version of Erich Von Daniken’s best-selling book of the same name, directed by Harold Reinl, offers viewers stunning visual proof that some form of life from outer space landed on Earth centuries ago. It took five years for von Daniken to document, on film, the physical evidence of visits by galactic travellers who came to Earth and such evidence allows the viewer to be taken into the far reaches of underground caves and tombs and to the tops of desolate mountains on every major continent. A controversial piece of film-making, Chariots answers some questions but also raises many others.
Nostalgia for the Light
Acclaimed political documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzmán travels ten thousand feet above sea level to the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert, where atop the mountains astronomers from all over the world gather to observe the stars. Offering stunning views of the skies and stars, the heat of the Atacama also preserves life, in some form, on Earth, and has allowed for human remains, of Pre-Columbian mummies; nineteenth century explorers and miners; and the remains of political prisoners, “disappeared” by the Chilean army after the military coup of September, 1973, to remain intact. The visuals of astronomers being able to so clearly examine the unknown, distant and oldest galaxies contrasted with those of families still hoping to find the remains of their loved ones close by makes NFTL a truly gorgeous, moving and ultimately, immensely personal, piece of work.
Header photo credit: phys.org.