A GOOD STORY LINE IS ALL I’M EVER REALLY AFTER. You know, character development, drama, a splice of romance thrown in just to raise the stakes. Special effects don’t matter much to me—they actually tend to get in the way of meaty dialogue. And yet that’s what we seem to get in a movie nowadays, all effects, no plot. Take a recent live feed from the European Space Agency in the ISS, when the film crew decided to impossibly beam a stuffed anime-character or fuzzy alien, whatever it was supposed to be—teddy bear in space, I guess—into the hands of an astronaut, as if this were an episode of Star Trek or something. You do realize we have yet to “invent” the know-how to beam teddy bears into space, right? Oh, I know, that sort of space fiction wows the young folks, but where’s the substance? When it came to the Apollo missions, NASA really knew how to reel the emotions in. But that was fifty years ago! So when it comes to the classics, that’s why I don’t really care about special effects—I can easily look past all the technical glitches of old—if the story is good.
If you’re a fan of NASA, particularly the vintage Cold War stuff, then you likely know what I’m talking about. Satellites dangling visibly on strings, stage crews accidentally showing up behind their toy rocket models and in the background of “outer space” no less, conflicting shadows originating from multiple “cosmic” light sources, electric-lit Earth globes with odd-shaped continents and clouds painted on by the prop man, which looks nothing like the globes they show today both in size and character—not overlooking bubbles rising from astronaut during “space walks,” that sort of thing. Once in a while I might even catch a scuba-diver scrambling by, desperately swimming to clear the shot after a stage-hand yells, “Action!” But it’s to be expected in any Hollywood film of old, the stage crew sometimes shows up in a scene by accident. Besides, those astronauts preform all of their own stunts. They need lifeguards standing by, because nobody wants to see a good astronaut drown.
One of my favorite NASA movies is highly underrated, and apparently rarely watched. It’s from the 1965 Gemini 4 mission, and involves this tense scene where co-pilot Ed White becomes a figure of Claymation in order to preform history’s first-ever spacewalk. I especially love the part where he impossibly turns his helmet (you do realize they’re locked on air-tight, right?) just to salute his “fourth-wall” and the viewing audience behind it.
See, that’s just the thing about the 1960’s. They appreciated good Claymation when they saw it on television. You know, Claymation—as in Gumby, or Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Perhaps American audiences were simply filled with more imagination back then. And there was a Cold War to win. It wasn’t exactly a stretch of story-time logic to assume when astronauts slide into the vacuum of space that the whole of them, skin tissue, bones, DNA, everything becomes a figurine of Claymation. Today’s audience apparently has too much sophistication, and a total lack of imagination where effects are concerned, to buy into such a stretch of logic, their loss.
Kids these days—they won’t sit down for any of the classics. Maybe we just need NASA to put some money into special-editions, kind of like George Lucas did for Star Wars. Are there any Baby-boomers out there who remember seeing Star Wars in 1977 and thinking, “Wow, these special effects look so real, I feel like I’m actually in space!” and then reviewing the film two-decades later and thinking, “Yeah, um, that doesn’t look nearly so good as I once recall.” It’s kind of like that. Only now we have CG to fill in the pot-holes!
It’s just the little things you need to correct, NASA. Like, when you show those vintage 24-hour time lapse videos of Earth, make sure the clouds move. Russia still has that exact same problem with their satellite footage today—the clouds never seem to move day-after-day-after-day-after-day, so you may want to talk with them about it. Makes sense, right, logistically that is. Stuff like that is important to some people. Not me though. I mean, I’m okay with it—the outdated special effects, because I know none of this is real—so long as the plot is good.
That’s just the thing. It’s simply not interesting anymore. Why isn’t anyone turning out scripts that hearken back to the gut-wrenching dramas of the Apollo 13 mission? Oh, that’s right, the Cold War’s over. We’ve got terrorists as boogie men now. No actual conflicts to win this time, just civilian freedoms to steal—particularly where the internet is concerned—-which is why the government’s moved on to other genres, from science-fiction to pure fantasy. The false flag attacks like Sandy Hook or that recent Ariana Grande London explosion hoax are continual. And I nearly forgot the biggest Blockbuster of our time, September 11th. Does anybody still believe it wasn’t an inside job? Look at me, I’m getting off track again. That’s an entirely different topic for another rant.
But you know, getting back to space and Hollywood—I have to admit, I’m somewhat a fan of Stanley Kubrick, and if there is an Apollo 11 moon landing Director’s Cut with his name attached to it, produced of course by Walt Disney Studios, then I’d love to get my hands on a copy.
Until that happens, I have to raise my kids in a world—and I never imagined such a day would come or that I’d even be talking about this—where I’ll explain to them, whenever the television is on, that what they’re watching isn’t real, even if the majority of our sleepy population claims it is.
How do you introduce a human into Flat Earth by explaining to them how this is just one massively-budgeted, delusional, and seemingly unending stage production of the late, great, planet Earth?
Maranatha from Prince Edward Island!