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Thursday, June 24, 2021

2021: Space Odyssey

Sci-fi films shot in space risk elbowing out the magic of imagination

By: Editorial |
Updated: May 15, 2021 9:10:03 am
Perhaps Tom Cruise yearns to execute a zero-gravity action sequence and Russian actor Yulia Peresild wants to take a perilous spacewalk.

Space Race 2 is here and like so many sequels in the past, it’s a snooze. What, really, is the big deal about sending actors to shoot on the International Space Station, as Hollywood and Russia are now competing to do? Granted, these films will make money. Perhaps Tom Cruise yearns to execute a zero-gravity action sequence and Russian actor Yulia Peresild wants to take a perilous spacewalk. But it’s not necessary for them to actually be in space to do these things on screen, and for the audience to believe it.

Perhaps it’s the obscene amount of money that goes into making movies these days that is to blame for this rather unnecessary competition. Or maybe the pandemic has exhausted the two film teams to the point where, to quote a character from the sci-fi series Futurama, they don’t want to be on this planet anymore. The real problem may be that those at the helm are out of touch with the one ingredient that matters most in filmmaking: Imagination.

Imagination, along with its sibling magic, lives in the gaps between what the eyes see and what the mind knows. These filmmakers may need to be reminded that their art and that of the magician were once closely linked. It was this bond that helped French filmmaker George Méliès launch a rocket into the moon’s sneering face, in the 1902 film Le Voyage Dans La Lune, just as, decades later, it helped George Lucas transform California’s Death Valley into the desert landscape of the planet Tatooine in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope. And, recall the special effects in using slit-scan photography to create 2001: A Space Odyssey’s groundbreaking Stargate sequence. So, the question is, again: What use is it for actors to fly off into space if the imagination remains earthbound?

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