South African pilot Dave Randall serves as courier - transporting a briefcase to American scientist, Dr Hendron. Inside the case are documents which state the star Bellus will collide with Earth, destroying it. A plan is developed to build a spaceship to carry a select few to the planet Zyra, a planet orbiting Bellus.Written by
The differential analyzer, a mechanical analog computer seen in this film, was shot at UCLA. It was built in 1947 by General Electric at a cost of $125,000 ($1.5M in 2020). By the time of this film, UCLA had a total of four of these machines. See more »
As the space ship nears landing on Zyra, the engines all run out of fuel; however, as the ship is landing you can still hear the roar of the engines. See more »
[spoken over a shot of outer space]
Needles in a heavenly haystack. There are more stars in the heavens than there are human beings on Earth. Through telescopes men of science constantly search the infinitesimal corners of our solar system seeking new discoveries, hoping to better understand the laws of the Universe. Observatories dedicated to the study of astronomy are set in high and remote places, but there is none more remote than Mt. Kenna Observatory in this part of South ...
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George Pal, Hungarian born Puppetoon creator and fantasy legend made several great science fiction space movies. Adaptations of popular books in the 50's included former German rocket scientist Willy Ley's "Conquest Of Space" using designs and ideas illustrated by space artist Chestley Bonestell, who's work is seen in almost all of Pal's space films in one way or another, considered cutting edge for the time. His others included H.G.Wells classic "War Of The Worlds", Robert Heinlein's "Destination Moon" and the Edwin Balmer & Philip Wylie 1932 novel "When World's Collide".
The results still stand as seminal classics of science fiction filmwork, often copied, referenced and paid homage in one way or another. Although perhaps dated by the computer generated, digitally enhanced SFX of today's so-called masterpieces, these films still stand out as the major influences which helped shape our dream, visions and often spoke to our deepest fears, such as the end of the world.
From the inverted ski jump launch system (used today on aircraft carriers), to expendable booster rockets (a Space Shuttle standard), the Ark spaceship spawned the imagination of many filmakers, including some who reused the model for other films such as "Flight To Mars" and "The Queen Of Outer Space". The movie still stands as a milestone as the first science fiction disaster movie.
Once again, Leith Stevens' musical score enriches the experience, as it did for Pal's previous space adventure, "Destination Moon". The film's special effects won it the Oscar in 1951. All this, and in the rich tones of Technicolor that shall never been seen in a first run movie theater again. Thank you Lord for revival houses that still manage to seek out old time prints for festivals (the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas comes to mind).
There still remains a bit of controversy, though, about the film's ending. A wide, panoramic Bonestell matte painting is seen from the hatch of the newly arrived Ark. In the image can be seen two clearly pyramidal mountains in perfect proportions, as if artificial, as well as the base of what appears to be a building constructed by an alien intelligence. Although the actors don't react to this (the matte effect added in post production), the artwork hints at the planet Zyra as being inhabited (In the novel, the planet is known as Bronson Beta, and is indeed found to be once inhabited, and is explored further in the sequel "After Worlds Collide").
In the 1970s, producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown attempted to do a remake, which eventually mutated into the 1998 film, "Deep Impact". As in "When Worlds Collide", the human interaction was as important as the science fiction elements.
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