When a spaceship lands on the moon, it is hailed as a new accomplishment, before it becomes clear that a Victorian party completed the journey in 1899, leading investigators to that mission's last survivor.
During a flight to Mars in the spaceship Mars Gravity Probe 1, Commander Christopher 'Kit' Draper and Colonel Dan McReady are forced to deviate from an asteroid and they leave their spacecraft in pods. Draper lands on the surface of the Red Planet and survives. He learns how to produce oxygen and while exploring the planet, he finds McReady dead in his crashed pod. He finds also the monkey Mona and brings the animal to the cave where he is sheltered. He learns that he can breathe the Martian air for short periods but needs also oxygen. But Mona finds water and an edible plant in the underground. .After a long period alone, Draper feels the loneliness. One day, he sees a spacecraft landing on Mars and he believes it might be the rescue team to save him. But he finds aliens working on the planet and some of them are slaves. One of them flees and stumble with Draper and he names him Friday. Now he needs to find a way to be rescued and return to Earth.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Victor Lundin states on the Criterion disc commentary that his character was originally intended to have non-human physical characteristics, such as hands with just two fingers and a thumb. However, budget concerns caused the producers to abandon this idea. Lundin was disappointed by this, as well as his dislike for the simple costume they chose for him. See more »
At 15:09 you can see a tripod light illuminating the purple column from behind. This is when he discovers the cave that he makes into his new home on Mars. See more »
Even though this movie was made in 1964, it puts to shame the more recent (and astronomically more expensive) "Mission to Mars" and "Red Planet".
The characters act much more like real people/enslaved extraterrestrials than was common in sci-fi films of that era. Mantee is well-trained and resourceful, handling most problems (with the exception of his forced isolation) with reasonable aplomb. He is much closer to what we expect an astronaut to be than the ridiculous characters from MtM and RP.
The equipment is also a notch above the usual 60s fare, with real cables, actual dials and knobs, and that utilitarian look so common in military hardware. I have to give this film and extra half-star just for the realistic technology.
Overall, a good, solid sci-fi film from the golden age. Like many others, I'm waiting for the DVD.
*** out of *****
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