How Have Space Movies Evolved?

'Interstellar'Credit: Paramount Pictures
Space used to be the final frontier, but now we go there all the time... in movies. 

Some of the earliest films ever made were about traveling from the earth to outer space. Nothing has changed. Humanity's fascination with space and what's "out there" has always been prevalent. From people gazing at the sky to billionaires blasting off, space captures our hearts and minds. 

Now, more than ever, we're making some of the most interesting and exciting space projects for film and television. Technology has gotten better, but how has it evolved from the early days until now? 

Check out this video from Insider, and let's talk after the jump. 

I have always been a space nerd. I loved watching things like 1902's A Trip to the Moon and even 1950's Destination Moon, where they used wires to lift actors off the ground. Still, growing up loving space movies means seeing the eventual shift away from practical effects and into something else. While it's true they still use the wire technique to this day, science and science fiction are always evolving. And Hollywood grows right next to it. 

Even 2001: A Space Odyssey broke new ground when Stanley Kubrick and the crew built a centrifuge and a camera rig to better capture upside-down ship movements. Those visuals blew our minds then and now—it was all about innovation. 

George Lucas took space fights to the next level using motion-control cameras in the first Star Wars movie. And Ron Howard used actual zero gravity in Apollo 13, as he had his crew riding the Vomit Comet. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton were in an actual weightless environment thanks to a plane that free falls and allows you to float. 

Of course, not everyone has that kind of budget, and CGI and VFX with a mix of wires replaced a lot of that for space movies today. Gravity, First Man, and Interstellar used groundbreaking CGI and LED projection to make space feel more realistic. And even ILM is revamping Star Wars with StageCraft, which adds different backgrounds and assets around practical sets. 

As you can see, the journey to make space even more realistic than before is a constant struggle between innovation and technology. Who knows what the next decades will bring, but I'll be there watching the movies. Will you?      

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The only film depicting the Trip to Space is 2001. Is like a 3D ride. And Space is the main subject, not an excuse to tell some drama. After that, the weightless scenes in Apollo 13. The rest tell dramatic personal stories with a space wrapping that could be, for example, underwater or in Antartica. Hope to see who nails it after Kubrick...

July 21, 2021 at 12:49AM

Javier Diez