Classic Science Fiction Videos and Future Predictions at SciFi DriveIn
Scene from Le Voyage Dans La Lune
I just discovered the SciFi DriveIn and it's collection of old, old science fiction movies, serials, and non-fiction predictions of the future. It's great to be able to watch these old classics online – though you're going to need a high speed connection.
The first video I watched was in the section labeled Misc which is actually the most interesting as it consists of a selection of old non-fiction videos. Leave it to Roll-oh! was an entertaining look at the future of robots with an excursion into the importance of machines in everyday life.
Next was The Big Bounce, a film about Project Echo. Echo was an inflated aluminum coated balloon 10 stories tall that was launched packed inside a 26 inch sphere. Once in orbit, transmissions were aimed at Echo from New Jersey, bounced off, and were received in Goldstone CA.
Project Echo balloon inflated in its hanger
I watched this video with interest as one of the few memories I have of my father, who passed away while I was still a child, was his taking me into the back yard to watch Echo 2 as it passed overhead. Echo 2 was launched into an 85.5-deg inclination orbit on January 25, 1964.
Heading over to the Serials section, I turned my neurons off and watched Radar Men From the Moon: Moon Rocket featuring Commando Cody who, with his trusty but aerodynamically impossible jet-pack backpack, must stop an invasion of the Earth. Yep, human agents employed by the evil lunar dictator are using an atomic ray to wreck havoc and prepare the way for an invasion from the moon.
Finally I headed over to the Movies section and was able to watch for the first time Le Voyage Dans La Lune in its entirety. This classic science fiction short was made in 1902 by Georges Melies and is generally considered to be the first science fiction movie. The movie was chock full of special effects. My favorite effect had to be the bonking of the moon men who, upon being whacked, vanished in a puff of smoke.
Earthrise over a bizarre lunar landscape.
What I found most fascinating about the movie was Melies' depiction of the lunar surface, shown above. It reminded me somewhat of the lunar features that illustrated the classic James Nasmyth and James Carpenter book “The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite”, first published in 1874. It must be said that those depictions are far more naturalistic than Melies'.
Get yourself some popcorn, get comfortable, and take a trip over to the SciFi DriveIn for some old time sci-fi.
Ad Astra, Jim