Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: Season 4, Episode 12

Mars and Beyond (4 Dec. 1957)
"Disneyland" Mars and Beyond (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Biography | Drama
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The episode begins with an introduction of Walt Disney and his robot friend Garco, who provide a brief overview of this episode, which starts with a look at mankind seeking to understand ... See full summary »

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Title: Mars and Beyond (04 Dec 1957)

Mars and Beyond (04 Dec 1957) on IMDb 8.8/10

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
Paul Frees ...
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Himself - Host
E.C. Slipher ...
Himself (as Dr. E.C. Slipher)
Ernst Stuhlinger ...
Himself (as Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger)
...
Himself (as Dr. Wernher von Braun)
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The episode begins with an introduction of Walt Disney and his robot friend Garco, who provide a brief overview of this episode, which starts with a look at mankind seeking to understand his world, first noticing patterns in the stars. He develops beliefs regarding the celestial bodies. Theories from scientists and philosophers are discussed. Ptolemy's inaccurate but formerly-accepted theories are discussed, as are those of Copernicus. Life on other planets is considered, soon focusing on Mars. Ideas from science-fiction authors H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs are brought to life with colorful animation. Pulp science fiction comics of the time are parodied. Then the program adopts a serious tone as it profiles each of the planets in the solar system, from the perspective of what would happen to man on them. The claim is that whereas most of the planets are either too cold or too hot for life as we know it, life on Mars could almost be normal, something that is of importance for ... Written by Anonymous

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4 December 1957 (USA)  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

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(Technicolor)

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

When the Martians are chasing the Earth woman, Donald Duck can be spotted among the crowd of bizarre monsters. See more »

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Featured in The Mouse Factory: Interplanetary Travel (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

Disney TV special with some very unusual sci-fi animation
18 December 2004 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

"Mars and Beyond" was a one-hour TV special originally shown in 1957 as a Tomorrowland episode on ABC's weekly "Disneyland" TV program. It's basically an educational film done in color with very creative animation supervised by Ward Kimball about man's relation to the stars, conditions for life on Mars and options for exploring Mars. This film is now available on DVD as part of the 2-disc set entitled, "Walt Disney Treasures: Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond." The piece is slow going at first, with a few live educational segments of scientists in offices explaining stuff to viewers. There are a couple of long cartoon sequences, one more serious than the other. The serious one shows the history of man's observation of the planets and stars, with special attention to astronomers' views of Mars and new discoveries made over the centuries. The other shows typical science fiction renditions of Martian invasion stories. These two sequences are done in the limited animation cartoon style perfected earlier in the decade by the UPA cartoon studio ("Gerald McBoing-Boing," "Christopher Crumpet," et al). The sense of humor in the Martian invasion sequence is pretty juvenile (Chuck Jones was doing much funnier Martian-themed cartoons over at Warner Bros), but at least there are illustrated references to H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs and the inclusion of a female in a superhero costume who saves the day in one "typical" scenario.

However, in the last third of the program, the animation style gets more serious and detailed. One segment shows us what life on Mars might be like if conditions were just a tad improved, so we get to see all kinds of predatory vegetation in action in incredibly imaginative depictions of cold hard plant-eat-plant life on this sandy, arid planet. Then there's a segment offering a proposed operation for a fleet of manned ships to explore and travel the Martian surface, with attention paid to each step of the mission. These painted illustrations, while limited in movement, are quite detailed and beautifully rendered in the tradition of the best science fiction art. One can only fantasize what an animated science fiction feature at the time done in this style might have looked like.

One jarring element of Disney's space-themed TV programs was the frequent appearance on camera of German rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun, who'd headed the Nazi military rocket program during WWII and was brought to the U.S. to work on its space program at the end of the war. He has only a short wordless appearance in this one, but hosts long sequences in two other Tomorrowland films, "Man in Space" (1955) and "Man and the Moon" (1955), both of which offer beautifully illustrated speculative sequences as well and both of which are also included in the Disney Treasures Tomorrowland set. As Leonard Maltin points out in his intro on the disc, though, "Mars and Beyond" has more animation than all the rest of the Tomorrowland productions. For this reason, it will continue to be of great interest to fans of animation and its all-too-rare use, at least by American animators, in the treatment of science fiction concepts.


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