Space Exploration on Film

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About the Book

Over the course of several decades, scientific fact has overtaken science fiction as humankind’s understanding of the universe has expanded. Mirroring this development, the cinematic depictions of space exploration over the last century have evolved from whimsical sci-fi fantasies to more fact-based portrayals. This book chronologically examines 75 films that depict voyages into outer space and offers the historical, cultural, and scientific context of each. These films range from Georges Méliès’ fantastical A Trip to the Moon to speculative science fiction works such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, and Contact, and fact-based accounts of actual space missions as depicted in The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, Salyut 7 and First Man. Each film is analyzed not only in terms of its direction, screenplay, and other cinematic aspects but also its scientific and historical accuracy. The works of acclaimed directors, including Fritz Lang, George Pal, Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky, Robert Wise, Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis, Ridley Scott, and Christopher Nolan, are accorded special attention for their memorable contributions to this vital and evolving subgenre of science fiction film.

About the Author(s)

Paul Meehan is the author of several books on science fiction, film noir and horror films, and a contributor to the Noir City Sentinel, the journal of the Film Noir Foundation and to The Palgrave Handbook of the Vampire. He lives in San Francisco.

Bibliographic Details

Paul Meehan

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 209
Bibliographic Info: 55 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8133-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4437-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction: Space Travel in Science Fiction and Science Fact 3
One. First Flights 11
Two. The ’50s and ’60s: From George Pal to Stanley Kubrick 28
Three. Getting into Space 47
Four. The Chariots of Apollo 63
Five. Red Star in Space: Russian Space Films 80
Six. Working in Space 97
Seven. The Allure of Mars 112
Eight. Disasters from Space 126
Nine. To Infinity and Beyond: Journeys to Deep Space and the Stars 158
Conclusion: Dreams of Space 189
Filmography 191
Chapter Notes 195
Bibliography 197
Index 199