Sunday, June 06, 2010

Battle Beyond The Sun

Battle Beyond The Sun is a 1963 Americanization of a 1960 Soviet science fiction film. Wikipedia says,
Roger Corman acquired the film for US distribution and hired a young film-school student named Francis Ford Coppola to Americanize it. In addition to preparing a dubbing script free of anti-American propaganda and supervising the dubbing, Coppola filmed a few shots of two Martian animals fighting and cut them into the Soviet material. This Americanized version was titled Battle Beyond the Sun

watch it online via Youtube:

Before the opening credits a voice says,
The future of mankind is being decided behind closed doors.In laboratories all over the world scientists are working on projects designed to take man beyond the confines of this Earth. You are looking at the actual models of spacecraft now being developed by agencies of the United States government. This is an Apollo spacecraft designed for elliptical orbit of the Moon. It's lunar landing vehicle can transport 3 men safely to and from the Moon's surface. These are other types of manned and remote-controlled vessels, each designed for a specific function -many already in operation as satellites in orbit around this Earth, some in readiness for the Moon shot, others designed for probes in deep space, a few to serve as space stations, and the most complex of all, prototypes of craft capable of putting a man on the surface of another planet. The wheel was one of man's first inventions and has been with him all of his civilized life. But now it, like so many other of his creations, must be modified to fit his new demands. These are 3 types of variable radius wheels, designed to transport a vehicle over a rocky surface. New concepts are being created almost daily. Some will never get beyond the drawing board, but others or their descendants will become part of man's greatest adventure -the exploration and colonization of space. All over the world men and women are working to make that dream a reality. Every aspect of the journey is being analyzed from the tiniest control devices to the mightiest rocket engines. But it's not enough to just get there. Just as the great explorers sailed from Spain and England and France to discover the Americas so that the colonizers might come later, so will our exploration space craft precede the colonizers of the planets. Already plans are being made for the colonies. Sources of food and power must be found, artificial atmospheres created, everything done to build an earth away from the Earth. No man living today can predict exactly what the future holds. But this much we do know: All through man's march across this Earth, wildest dreams and fantasies of one age have become the commonplaces of the next. The motion picture you are about to see can be called today a fantasy of the future. But one day, maybe not too far distant, audiences will be able to look back on it in the same spirit in which we view pictures about the first covered wagons crossing the plains.

Then after the opening credits, the word EARTH and the date November 7, 1997 appear on the screen, and the voice continues:
In the fear-ridden years following the Great Atomic War, the Earth and its people had been reduced to a state of death and destruction. Those who had survived the tragedy began building anew with a hope for the future. But still the world remained divided. This time man-made boundaries stretched beyond mere countries, forcing the isolated separation of one vast hemisphere from another. These 2 conflicting powers became known as the North Hemis and the South Hemis. Heading South Hemis' top security project Red Planet was Albert Gordon. Wirking with him was his wife Dr. Ruth Gordon. They and a carefully selected team of scientists had labored in secret for 5 years on the project, which hoped to put the first man on the planet Mars. Now, just days before the launching, the first public information releases were being given to certain journalists who would spread the story to the world if the project were a success. If it met with failure, neither the citizens of South Hemis nor their rivals in the Northern Hemisphere would know that it had even been tried. Astronaut Craig Matthews was in charge of briefing a government journalist on the details. Information had been leaked from North Hemis that their scientists were also trying to reach Mars, and the pressures were building in both governments to make sure that their men landed on the planet first. Man-carrying space stations had been circling the Earth for several years, and trips to and from the station were not unusual. The first step in Project Red Planet was to transport the personnel in a normal manner to a specially-equipped station. The second phase would be the actual launching from this artificial planet, where the spacecraft would no longer be subject to the Earth's gravitational pull.

All that narration takes up the first 7 minutes of the film.

Moria says,
looking back at Battle Beyond the Sun from the ‘not-too-distant future’ of 40 years on, it seems less like an historical portrait of people bravely forging a new frontier than one that taps into the peculiar mindset of its age.

DVDTalk closes with this:
The original makers of Nebo zovyot (which translates as "The Heavens Call") must have been dismayed to see their movie and its message twisted into a kiddie flick about giant space blobs on a Martian Moon.

TCM has an overview.

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