In film there has been a continuous trend aimed towards fusing the wonder of space and fictional horrors or high-stress situations. Gravity, a film by Alfonso Cuarón Orozco, is one such movie that follows this trend. In this film there is one enemy the film shows to the viewer, physics. The Russians destroyed a satellite and inadvertently caused a chain reaction resulting in the deaths of multiple crewmen and pushing the plot along to the end of the film. There are many other films that have accidents, deception, monsters, and even robots pushing the idea that space is dangerous and we shouldn’t go there. Moon, Stranded, Mission to Mars, Armageddon, The Blackhole, War of the Worlds, Independence Day, and many others.
The movie is beautiful, the shots looked much like the ISS photographs. There is only a vacuum between the camera and the astronauts, which results in an incredibly clear image.
The problem with this trend is the impact it has on viewers, young viewers especially. When I left the theater after seeing Gravity a little boy told his mom, “Remind me never to work for NASA.” Is that really the mindset our youth need to have? What happened to kids saying, “I wanna be an astronaut when I grow up!”
Apollo 18, by Gonzalo López-Gallego, is about fictional NASA footage of a secret moon mission and the horrific demise of the astronauts. I took my little brother with me and he was in tears. The astronauts eventually realize they are being deceived by NASA and are trapped with these terrible creatures.
Europa Report, by Sebastián Cordero, it’s about a manned mission to the moon of Jupiter named, Europa, and an attempt to search for life under the frozen surface. It’s a horror film, whatever they find down there is going to spend the rest of the film slaughtering the crew. I don’t understand why the aliens are usually aggressive in space films, but its incredibly unoriginal. The Alien and Predator films handled the vicious alien with great originality and have left an impact in other TV shows and movies to this day.
It is possible to have a film set in space, show the wonder and beauty of space exploration, and have a tense and powerful plot. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Stanley Kubrick, is one of the few films that does this so successfully. You are taken from the dawn of man to the future where the film guides you from Space Plane to the Moon. There are no dangers, no monsters waiting to mutilate people, just a beautiful classical piece set to the ballet-like dance between the space station and the space plane. You learn that the moon base is under quarantine, but there isn’t something horrible happening, no its the greatest discovery in the history of mankind. Again, it is possible for a film to be about space without pushing viewers away from space exploration.
I hope there will be a director who will take the high ground like Stanley Kubrick and give viewers a film about space exploration that won’t push them away. There are few other directors that have taken this approach, but there simply aren’t enough.