As you rejoice in Chandrayaan 3’s successful landing on the surface of the moon, here are a few films that you must see in order to understand how space exploration has been depicted in Hollywood cinema over the decades.
‘Apollo 11’ is a documentary film which was edited, produced and directed by Todd Douglas Miller. It focuses on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, the first spaceflight from which men walked on the Moon. The film consists solely of archival footage, including 70 mm film previously unreleased to the public, and does not feature narration, interviews or modern recreations.
‘First Man’ is a biographical drama film directed by Damien Chazelle from a screenplay by Josh Singer, based on the 2005 book of the same name by James R. Hansen. The film stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, alongside Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Christopher Abbott, and Ciarán Hinds, and follows the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969.
‘The Martian’ is a science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. Drew Goddard adapted the screenplay from the 2011 novel ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir. The film depicts an astronaut’s lone struggle to survive on Mars after being left behind and the efforts of NASA to rescue him and bring him home to Earth. It also stars Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover, and Benedict Wong.
‘Interstellar’ is an epic science fiction film co-written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Matt Damon, and Michael Caine. Set in a dystopian future where humanity is embroiled in a catastrophic blight and famine, the film follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new home for humankind.
‘Gravity’ is a science fiction thriller film directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also co-wrote, co-edited, and produced the film. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as American astronauts who attempt to return to Earth after the destruction of their Space Shuttle in orbit.
‘Apollo 18’ is an American-Canadian science fiction horror film written by Brian Miller, directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego, and co-produced by Timur Bekmambetov and Michele Wolkoff. A Canadian-American co-production, its premise is that the cancelled Apollo 18 mission actually landed on the Moon in December 1974, but never returned, and as a result the United States has never launched another expedition to the Moon. The film is shot in found-footage style, which is supposedly ‘lost footage’ of the Apollo 18 mission that was only recently discovered.
‘Apollo 13’ is an American space docudrama film directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, and Gary Sinise. The screenplay by William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert dramatizes the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission and is an adaptation of the 1994 book ‘Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage’ of Apollo 13, by astronaut Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger. The film tells the story of astronauts Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 for America's fifth crewed mission to the Moon, which was intended to be the third to land. En route, an on-board explosion deprives their spacecraft of much of its oxygen supply and electrical power, which forces NASA's flight controllers to abort the Moon landing mission and improvise scientific and mechanical solutions to get the three astronauts to Earth safely.
‘2010: The Year We Make Contact’ is an American science fiction film written, produced, shot and directed by Peter Hyams. It is a sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and is based on Arthur C. Clarke's 1982 sequel novel, ‘2010: Odyssey Two’. The film stars Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban and John Lithgow, along with Keir Dullea and Douglas Rain of the cast of the previous film.
‘The Right Stuff’ is an American epic historical drama film written and directed by Philip Kaufman and based on the 1979 book of the same name by Tom Wolfe. The film follows the Navy, Marine, and Air Force test pilots who were involved in aeronautical research at Edwards Air Force Base, California, as well as the Mercury Seven, the seven military pilots who were selected to be the astronauts for Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight by the United States. The film stars Sam Shepard, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Fred Ward, Dennis Quaid, and Barbara Hershey; Levon Helm narrates and plays Air Force test pilot Jack Ridley.
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is an epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, and was inspired by Clarke's 1951 short story ‘The Sentinel’ and other short stories by Clarke. Clarke also published a novelisation of the film, in part written concurrently with the screenplay, after the film's release. The film stars Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, and Douglas Rain, and follows a voyage by astronauts, scientists and the sentient supercomputer HAL to Jupiter to investigate an alien monolith.