Simanaitis Says

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SPACE TRIPPIN’

I MARVEL AT WACKOS who believe that NASA’s six manned Moon visits were hoaxes. People of this sort tend to profess that the world is flat, jet contrails contain mood-altering medications, and MoonWalking Michael Jackson was a perfectly normal person.

Counterexamples to the NASA hoax are abundant: High-def photos taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show the lander modules and tracks of the astronauts on the Moon’s surface. Five of the six Apollo Mission flags are still standing; Apollo 11’s got blown over by the return rocket’s takeoff exhaust.

Image by NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

And, geez, don’t these wackos ever go to movies? Following are tidbits of cinematographic proof, the earliest dating from 1902.

Le Voyage Dans la Lune was George Méliès’ 1902 movie inspired by Jules Verne’s novels From the Earth to the Moon, 1865, and Around the Moon, 1870. Méliès used substitution splicing, mechanical scenery, pyrotechnics, and other cinematographic effects to document this first visit to the moon.

Wikipedia cites modern scholars who regard Méliès’ work as “one of the earliest examples of pataphysical cinema, saying it ‘aims to show the illogicality of logical thinking’ with its satirically portrayed inept scientists, anthropomorphic moon face, and impossible transgressions of laws of physics.”

The statue of Barbenfollis, seen here from a hand-colored print of Méliès’ Le Voyage Dans la Lune.

Barbenfollis is a pompous, bullying politician in the flick. I’m not sure who the young ladies are.

Die Frau im Mond,, was Fritz Lang’s 1929 documentation of a similar lunar visit, this time with a love triangle tossed in. Helius is an entrepreneur interested in space travel, sort of a 1929 Elon Musk. One of his assistants, Windegger, has the hots for another assistant, Frieda. But so does Helius, who names his rocketship Frieda.

The young ladies surrounding Barbenfollis are now beginning to make sense to me, cinematographically.

Image from offscreen.com.

Lang gives away plenty of space travel secrets in Woman on the Moon. Spaceship Frieda was assembled in one building and then transported to the launch pad. The spaceship had two-stage propulsion, ejecting its first stage and firing up the second en route. The crew reclined on horizontal beds to cope with g forces of acceleration. The launch was preceded by “Zehn, Neun, Acht,…, Drei, Zwei, Eins, Jetzt!”

Maybe Lang used “Now” to save Null for Fußball?

Destination Moon, 1950, identified the potential challenges of a lunar trip, apart from love triangles.

Image from imdb.com.

As noted in Wikipedia, the movie’s premise is that “private industry will mobilize, finance, and manufacture the first spacecraft to the Moon, and that the U.S. government will be forced to purchase or lease the technology to remain the dominant power in space.”

Are you listening, Elon? And what about you, Donald?

Not to give secrets away, but Destination Moon has a stirring conclusion: “This is THE END… of the Beginning.”

Rocketship X-M, 1950, predates my favorite satellite radio service, albeit with a hyphen.

Rocketship X-M sums up a half-century of lunar documentation. This time, the spaceship overshoots its mark and ends up on Mars. There, its crew of five, four men and a woman, discover a degenerated Martian civilization that perhaps had its fill of Barbenfollis.

Image from imdb.com.

Wikipedia says of the crew’s Martian adventure: “Dr. Eckstrom is killed by a stone axe; navigator Chamberlain is badly injured by a thrown rock. The survivors finally make their way back to the RX-M.”

Wouldn’t you know, their fuel gets them back to Earth, but not enough to land safely. Colonel Graham and Dr. Van Horn (she’s a Chemistry Ph.D.) console each other as the RX-M plunges uncontrollably toward the wilds of Nova Scotia.

The movie’s last comment, though, is uplifting: “A new spaceship, the RX-M-2, begins construction tomorrow.”

Well, there. That ought to put those wackos in their place. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019

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