five films to watch when you're in need of some extra space

by rowena grant-frost

Are you tired of this big ball of dirt? Have you ever yearned for more than just tectonic plates and igneous rocks and the atmosphere? Do you ever find yourself thinking: “I am so sick of the abundance of water on this planet. Surely there is a rocky outpost somewhere that is less forgiving to humankind and my water-drinking needs?”

Yes?

Before you book your flight on Virgin Galactic, maybe watch these five movies about outer space first:

space movies big

Planet of the Apes

Released a year before Apollo 11 landed on the moon, Planet of the Apes sees two astronauts encounter a world turned upside down: intelligent animals enslave humans, humans are wild beasts, and we are led to believe that Charlton Heston, one of our astronauts, is apparently quite sexy. Planet of the Apes is a disturbing allegory of anthropocentricism – the idea that humans have higher moral status than other forms of life and are the most important living creatures on the planet. “You are a menace,” Dr Zaius, one of the ape leaders, tells a group of humans at one point. “A walking pestilence.” Harsh.



2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 epic also takes us on a trip to a planet ruled by apes, but in 2001: A Space Odyssey we meet them by going back in time to pre-history, and then – in one of film history’s most famous pieces of editing – jumping in the blink of an eye to a distant future in space. 2001 is both oddly captivating and sedate – two qualities that might be best summed up in the lengthy still and silent sequences of astronauts working in the vacuum of space. These sequences are, despite their stillness and silence, simultaneously terrifying and amazing – much like the rest of the movie as well.



Alien

Alien is the opposite of sedate and still. It is COMPLETELY TERRIFYING. I have never screamed so loud as I have in Alien – and I am Australian. I am used to encountering things that are trying to kill me. Here’s what you need to know: Alien’s screenwriter, Dan O’Bannon, came up with the idea for the story after he had a fever dream where he was impregnated by a (real) species of wasp, which lays its eggs in the flesh of other living creatures. When the wasp babies hatch, both IRL and in O’Bannon’s dream, they eat their way out of their host. THE HORROR. In Ridley Scott’s film, all you need to do is replace “wasp” with “alien” and “other living creatures” with “humans” and you basically know what you’re in for.



WALL-E

WALL-E might be the nicest and loveliest dystopian movie you’ve ever seen. Set in a far-flung future where Earth has become a giant, uninhabitable rubbish tip, the film tells the story of a small garbage-man robot named WALL-E, who is tasked with cleaning up the planet, so that people might one day return. WALL-E leads a solitary and self-sufficient existence, until he meets another robot – a sleek and sophisticated model named EVE, who has been sent to Earth to look for signs of revegetation. WALL-E swiftly falls in love with EVE and her aerodynamic form and gun-for-an-arm; but, as with all love stories, the path to togetherness is more like an obstacle course, which includes a bad guy, AUTO, who is based on HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.



Galaxy Quest

Have you ever wished your favourite TV show was… real? Have you ever imagined yourself hanging out with your favourite characters and maybe investigating crimes together, or going shopping together, or doing whatever it is that your favourite characters do? Galaxy Quest will 100% toot your horn, then, my friends. You will love it. The film is about a group of aliens who mistake a long-running (but also long-cancelled) sci-fi TV series for a historical documentary about a real-life space crew. The aliens come to Earth to beg the “space crew” – actually a bunch of unemployed actors stuck doing fandom conventions – to help them conquer their enemy: the war-mongering and genocidal alien Sarris, who wants to destroy them and their peaceful civilisation. Galaxy Quest is kind of amazing – it so funny and self-aware, but it’s also very, very moving and heartfelt. If you can manage not to cry when, as he is dying, the alien Quellek tells Alan Rickman that he “always considered [him] as a father” then you’re a stronger person than I.




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