The Spacesuit Film: A History, 1918-1969
Filmmakers employ various images to suggest the strangeness of outer space, but protective spacesuits most powerfully communicate its dangers and the frailty of humans beyond the cradle of Earth. (Many films set in space, however, forgo spacesuits altogether, reluctant to hide famous faces behind bulky helmets and ill-fitting jumpsuits.) This critical history comprehensively examines science fiction films that portray space travel realistically (and sometimes not quite so) by having characters wear spacesuits. Beginning [A] with the pioneering Himmelskibet (1918) and Woman on the Moon (1929), it discusses [B] other classics in this tradition, including Destination Moon (1950), Riders to the Stars (1954), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); [C] films that gesture toward realism but betray that goal with melodramatic villains, low comedy, or improbable monsters; [D] the distinctive spacesuit films of Western Europe, Russia and Japan; and [E] America's spectacular real-life spacesuit film, the televised Apollo 11 moon landing (1969).
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