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Capricorn One

Film (1977). Capricorn One Associates/Associated General/ITC. Directed by Peter Hyams. Written by Hyams. Cast includes James Brolin, Elliott Gould, Hal Holbrook, O J Simpson, Brenda Vaccaro and Sam Waterston. 124 minutes. Colour.

The premise of this Paranoia movie – made at a time, in the wake of Watergate, when secret-political-conspiracy films had become commonplace – is that a supposedly manned mission to Mars cannot carry a crew because of a malfunction in the life-support system. Fearing a public-relations disaster and a cut in funding, NASA decides to fake the mission: an unmanned craft is sent and a remote film-set is used in place of Mars, the "astronauts" being blackmailed into taking part in the deception. But, after the real Spaceship burns up in the atmosphere on its return to Earth, the astronauts are officially "dead", and will probably be murdered to keep them quiet. Escapes, desert chases and confusions follow.

The provocative theme of appearance vs reality in a media-dominated world could have been interesting, but Hyams raises the issue only to ignore it in favour of routine spectacle. That NASA should have cooperated in making this film is mystifying, especially with the hindsight realization that it has undoubtedly fuelled the now well-established conspiracy theory that NASA's Moon landings were all faked. Unusually, the film was novelized twice: in the USA as Capricorn One (1978) by Ron Goulart, and in the UK as Capricorn One (1978) by Ken Follett writing as by Bernard L Ross. [JB/PN/DRL]

see also: The Astronaut.

see also: Alternative 3 (1977).



Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 14:33 pm on 25 January 2022.