Saturday, April 17, 2010

Way Stations in Space (1961)

 Incredible film aimed at 4th-6th graders that covers the possiblities of space stations. The space race was in high gear in 1961, and so was likely a hot topic of discussion in the schools.
The film starts off with a curious hold over from the 1950s science films; two young children ask (via an all knowing narrator) their uncle, a rocket scientist, about rockets. This leads into a discussion on how rockets work and why they need to be in stages, first using the example of an X-15 rocket plane carried by a B-52.

From there, the design and building of a space station are discussed, primarily in the context of using it as a means to go further into space using animations and models. This was the concept used in the film 2001: A Space Oddessy, and many of the ideas from the Kubrick film are first articulated in this film. The space station is mainly seen as a stopping off point for further destinations. It features a circular design to try to simulate gravity via centripetal force. The interiors are white and anaseptic. It also talks about the problems of landing which the narrator states "haven't been solved yet."

From there, the movie talks about landing on the moon and creating a base there. While many of the issues discussed did come to pass during the real moon landing, there is something oddly 1950s sci-fi about the design of the rocket that lands. This is despite real rockets, such as the Titan (shown briefly at the end of the film) that were existance at the time. There was also mention of using the moon as a base to launch missions further into space, namely Mars. It does hold out that other planets might exist, but they are too far away using the known rocket technology of the time.

At the end, the narrator sums up the key points again, repeating many of the main points, but given the complex nature for such a young age group, this is not surprising. Overall, this is great mix of visionary filming and naive charm. Very recommended.

UNKNOWN (1961)
14 MIN

No comments:

Post a Comment