Thursday, 28 December 2017

Destination Moon - Once Again!

The poem that follows was inspired by the film that really opened the classic age of sci-fi films of the 1950s, George Pal’s somewhat eerily prescient, Destination Moon (1950). I also had in mind President Trump’s recent directive to NASA to have Americans return to the moon supposedly as a stepping stone to Mars and beyond. NASA has had its sights firmly set on missions to Mars and I wonder what impact this directive will have on NASA and the future course of space exploration. A lot will depend on finding the right answer to the questions posed in the last stanza of the poem I suppose. That may have been an important factor in the previous manned missions to the moon….finding the right answer.

Anyway, I close this year with my little poem and wish you A Happy New Year! Never stop wondering…..What If?

Once more unto the Moon, dear friends, once more!

We chose to go to the moon…..
In a George Pal sci-fi spectacular
Just a mere five years after The War,
When Truman was President of these here United States
And H-bomb production pushed up the stakes.

We chose to go to the moon….
In glorious Technicolor and mono sound
As Korea became yet another battleground,
While industry grew fatter with profit,
And a baby boom got set to sky-rocket.

We chose to go to the moon….
Committed and depicted up on the screen,
Beating them Commies so evil and mean!
While winds of a Cold War made us shake and shiver,
And we warmed up with sessions of duck and cover.

We chose to go to the moon….
Believing that we were in a race,
In which we had to set the pace,
To be first to put a man on the moon,
And get it done and done real soon.

We chose to go to the moon…..
With faith in our industry and enterprise
Asking: What’s the payoff? What’s our prize?
Knowing: the race is on and we’d better win it;
Control the moon and all others will submit!

We chose to go to the moon…..
Not yet ready to catch and match the fiction,
Of a Woody Woodpecker demonstration,
Filled with optimism and basic principles,
And all kinds of kids’ cute cartoon visuals.

We chose to go to the moon….
When Kennedy set out a nation’s challenge,
One that would not be easy to manage
And one that would be hard to achieve
But one in which all could believe.

We chose to go to the moon…..
Having once lost a race into space,
Now a new race began to help us save face
Where the goal was to win and claim first prize:
Global pre-eminence and all that it belies.

We chose to go to the moon…
And did we rush in headlong haste -
To land a man on the moon and be the first
To safely return him to earth! Ah, there’s the rub!
Dangers abounded while Time stood poised to drub.

We chose to go to the moon….
With men who had the right stuff,
But would all this prove to be enough,
With the aim just to win a sprint,
To plant a flag and leave a footprint?

We chose to go to the moon….
And by Mercury, Gemini and Apollo we did!
Ethereal images both ghostly and splendid
Hailed us from another world with words well-timed
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

We had chosen to go to the moon….
And for a moment we stood there as if in a trance,
Struck dumb by the stark desolation and silence,
In awe at a blue marble suspended in a velvet black sky,
And then we began to fiddle and fidget and wonder WHY?

We then chose to leave the moon…..
When Cynicism set in as adventure turned routine,
And the latest sitcom was the thing to be seen.
A blanket of boredom spread over a fickle world
Chilled by millions and billions at the moon that were hurled.

Selene: Greek moon goddess

We choose now to return to the moon…..
When what had once been revered and respected;
When what held our world balanced and protected;
And of our imagination sparked and illuminated,
Had for too long been ignored and taken for granted.

Do we now choose to go to the moon…
Because others are there for reasons suspect?
To corporatize a chunk of space unchecked?
To have a stepping stone to Mars and yonder?
Or to help us understand, know and wonder?


2018 will open with a post on the classic 1958 sci-fi film…..

THE FLY!!!!!

©Chris Christopoulos 2017

Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Colossus of New York (1958)

An under-rated, admirable and well-crafted sci-fi film that explores concepts that are relevant to modern audiences.

Directed by Eugène Lourié
Story written by Willis Goldbeck
Screenplay: Thelma Schnee
Music by Van Cleave
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date: 1958
Running time: 70 minutes


John Baragrey: Dr. Henry Spensser
Mala Powers: Anne Spensser
Otto Kruger: Dr. William Spensser
Robert Hutton: Dr. John Robert Carrington
Ross Martin: Dr. Jeremy 'Jerry' Spensser
Charles Herbert: Billy Spensser

There’s something about The Colossus Of New York that I still find to be eerie and disturbing. It is one of the lesser known vintage sci fi films from the 1950s that I believe deserves much greater attention. While watching the film once again recently, I was reminded of the Cybermen characters from the Doctor Who series in which hapless human beings are forced to undergo an “upgrade” by having their humanity and their very emotions stripped away as they are turned into cybernetically augmented humanoids. There have been instances though when the essential humanity of an “upgraded’ individual has managed to break through the impassive impenetrable façade of a Cyberman.

So, what is this technological Frankenstein movie all about?

Following an accident in which he was killed, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Jeremy Spensser has his brain transplanted into the body of a huge cyborg by his scientist father, William Spensser. William wishes to save his genius son's mind so that it can continue to serve mankind, BUT……
What will be the effect on Jeremy Spensser’s brain?

Will there be irreversible changes to his personality?
Will the very essence of his humanity be at stake?

Read on for more.....