5.7/10
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9 user 1 critic

Earth II (1971)

When Earth II, an orbiting research space station, is menaced by a Red Chinese nuclear weapon, its 2,000 inhabitants take action to disarm and dispose of the missile without resorting to violence.

Director:

Tom Gries
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Lockwood ... David Seville
Scott Hylands ... Jim Capa
Hari Rhodes ... Dr. Loren Huxley
Anthony Franciosa ... Frank Karger (as Tony Franciosa)
Mariette Hartley ... Lisa Karger
Gary Merrill ... Walter Dietrich
Inga Swenson ... Ilyana Kovalefskii
Edward Michael Bell Edward Michael Bell ... Anton Kovalefskii (as Edward Bell)
Lew Ayres ... President Charles Carter Durant
Brian Dewey ... Matt Karger
Diana Webster Diana Webster ... Hannah Young
Bart Burns ... Steiner
John Carter John Carter ... Hazlitt
Herbert Nelson Herbert Nelson ... Chairman
Serge Tschernisch Serge Tschernisch ... Russian
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Storyline

In the near future, a space station dubbed Earth II is built for the purpose of scientific research and world peace. However, that peace is shattered when the Chinese send up a nuclear bomb that is orbiting just a few miles away from the station. Can the crew disarm the bomb before it detonates, not only destroying the station but setting off World War III? Written by Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Just 10 seconds . . . to save a dream from becoming a nuclear nightmare

Genres:

Sci-Fi

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 November 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Killersatelliten See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Wabe, MGM Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lifting bodies shuttles from designs being tested by NASA. See more »

Goofs

In space objects will float away, but will do so based on inertia. So, the screws and panel on the bomb should move in a linear fashion. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Respectable early 70s sci-fi movie
1 June 1999 | by TVholicSee all my reviews

Earth II was a very earnest attempt at serious science fiction, a decided rarity in the early 1970s. It dealt with the establishment of the first orbital space colony in an unspecified year. Today, 28 years later, it's interesting to see many of the ideas represented here creeping toward reality. Only now is the International Space Station being constructed, and it bears a passing resemblance to the fictional Earth II. Both are designed to be independent of any one nation. There's a mention of a Mars mission under construction at E-II, much as today's planners say the ISS is essential to a manned mission to Mars. The early lifting-body shuttle of E-II is finally being realized in the X-33 and the VentureStar spacecraft.

Scientific jargon abounds in this picture, and it's to the movie's credit that it's more often than not used properly rather than as technobabble. The writers, with help from technical advisors and NASA, were respectful of the science -- an extraordinary step for SF movies, especially on television. This is a thinking person's science fiction, with complex situations and human interactions rather than space battles, bumpy-headed aliens, ray guns, post- apocalyptic mutants and the like.

The inspiration and influences of "2001: A Space Odyssey," two years previous, are obvious. First and foremost was the presence of Gary Lockwood, who played Frank Poole in 2001. There's also the reverence of the spaceflight sequences that bear a striking resemblance to their predecessors. Contemporary orchestral music takes the place of classical music from the masters, still trying hard to show the majesty and reality of space. The first third of the movie is spent introducing the wonders of living in this new environment with its unfamiliar physical conditions and a unique social structure very much a product of idealistic 1960s egalitarianism. Adult residents of Earth II were mandated to "attend" all important community functions via TV, and any inaccuracies and unsupported opinions on both sides of the debate were instantly pointed out by on-screen captions. If only today's voters could be as well-informed and responsible.

Where this movie founders somewhat is in its pacing. Sometimes it can be tough slogging, seeming quite a bit longer than its 1:45 running time. It's talky at times, even preachy in spots. A saving grace is that, despite the inescapable aging of much of the technology, the production design holds up remarkably well. There are a few set pieces that are blatantly '70s, but more that would still look good today.

One big, unnecessary dramatic device: If they needed to keep the launch bay out of the sun, why send a tug out to stop the rotation of Earth II? It would have been easier to park the tug in front of the missing hatch, providing shade for the bay, just as the real-life Skylab astronauts rigged a "parasol" to keep their workshop cool after it lost its meteoroid shield on launch.

That this movie was as well-crafted as it was despite notable flaws is a reflection on the crew. Many were involved with "Mission: Impossible," including the producers/writers, cinematographer, and composer Lalo Shifrin. The M:I connection also explains the backdrop of political tension as they tried to deal with an orbital nuclear weapon launched by a rogue nation. This is the movie's one glaring anachronism: Communist China was the nation, unaffiliated with the United Nations, that launched the weapon. It was terrible timing that after the movie was finished but only a month before it was aired, the UN adopted Resolution 2758, which stripped Taiwan of its membership and gave its seat to China. By 1979, the US had followed suit, recognizing China and leaving Taiwan in the diplomatic limbo in which it has existed ever since. There was no way to fix this problem before the movie aired. They needed a nuclear nation unconstrained by international agreements, and China was the last such candidate for the role at the time.

From the credits listing "guest stars" and "special guest star," it's clear that this was intended to be the pilot for an ongoing series. Too bad it was never to be. Now we can only guess at what heights this intriguing concept might have reached.


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