Best Films On Outer Space (or Space Travel) — II
The Right Stuff (1983)
Philip Kaufman’s ambiguous and consistently compelling look at the initial development of US Space Program had an unjust box-office run, but it is one of the truly great American movies of the 1980’s. Movies based on Space age are always intent on showcasing the victories and joys. However, “the Right Stuff” concentrated on the numerous flops that contributed to the eventual victory. It also pays a fitting tribute to the astronauts of Mercury Mission, who were then seen as a specimen strapped in a flying machine. Although it’s a history lesson, Kaufman imbues the proceedings with a lot of wild humor.
Legendary Russian Film-maker Andrey Tarkovsky’s haunting and provocative work of art (based on Stanislaw Lem’s 1961 novel) boasts an outer space premise only to explore more on the tribulations endured by the human souls. Made on a mere $829,000 USD, “Solyaris” doesn’t possess any eye-candy elements to pull in the entertainment seekers. The movie demands multiple viewings to mainly ponder over the metaphysical questions it raises. Unlike the Russian movies of that era, “Solyaris” is about the human kind as a whole – its moral conscience and ethics.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick’s majestic and enigmatic space spectacle remains an unforgettable endeavor in the history of cinema. Very often it invariably turns up in film-makers, critics, or movie lovers’ top ten lists. Who are we, what’s our purpose, and where do we go? These simplest, yet timeless, existential questions is what lies at the center of this space epic. The space-docking sequence, psychedelic trip and the jump cuts have inspired the generations of film-makers. The sense of awe and profound questions conveyed by Kubrick and Clarke remains untarnished, still demanding us to jump into the vortex of interpretations.
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)
Byron Haskin’s interesting variant on the famous ‘Robinson Crusoe’ story is (as the title suggests) set in the Red Planet. Visually the movie is dated like many of the post 1950’s B-space flicks, but it is a good spiritual work contemplating the themes of isolation and humans’ will to survive. Despite a wholly different setting, the movie almost stays true to the original novel. This low-budget work stays within its limits, achieving what it could and never opting for phony, contrived action scenes.
Woman in the Moon (1929)
Visionary director Fritz Lang’s last silent film isn’t a heralded classic like “Dr. Mabuse”, “Metropolis” or “M”, but it is one of the very first movies to reflect on the intrigue of space travel. A cartel of German industrialists finances a space mission when they learn there are vast amount of untapped gold reserves on the surface of moon. There are flaws in the movie’s scientific notions, but it boasts great technical skills for its period (especially the ‘countdown’ sequence) and innovative direction. The script possesses many melodramatic and dull elements, but it’s the very first flick to capture the awe-inspiring mystery of outer space.
Other Notable Films: “Silent Running” (1972), “Solaris” (2003), “Sunshine” (2007), “2010: The Year We Make Contact” (1984), “When Worlds Collide” (1951), “Destination Moon” (1950), “Dark Star” (1974).