News, Reviews, and Related Issues
MISSION TO MARS
Bill Fentum interviewed Brian
De Palma upon the release of
Mission To Mars at
TOP TEN LISTS:
Mission To Mars made
several critics' top ten
lists for the year 2000:
Armond White-New York Press
White didn't elaborate on his
Godfrey Cheshire-New York Press
Cahiers Du Cinema
Mission To Mars is now
available on VHS and DVD.
The DVD features a documentary
on the making of the film,
with sound bite interviews of
Brian De Palma, Tom Jacobson,
Stephen H. Burum, Paul Hirsch,
Ed Verreaux, and others who worked
on the film. Many other features show
in detail how the film was put together,
with audio commentaries, animatics,
and script-to-screen comparisons.
Exploring Cydonia at CNN.Com
offers an easy to digest view of
Michael Malin's recently released
images of the Cydonia region of Mars.
Visitors are encouraged to take a
closer look at the high-resolution
images taken from Malin's Mars
Orbiter Camera, which has been
taking pictures aboard NASA/JPL's
Mars Global Surveyor currently
orbiting the planet.
SFX May 2000
"Life On Mars?"
Decent article about the making
of Mission To Mars,
including interviews with producer
Tom Jacobson and ex-NASA
astronaut Story Musgrave. Jacobson
on choosing De Palma to direct
the film: "What you're looking
for in a director is something
intangible. First of all, you
look at their body of work.
What have they done before and
what are the qualities that they
might bring to the project,
based on what you've seen? I
think Brian's compositional strengths
are really strong. Also his
visual imagination, his work with
the camera. I think his work with
design, his interaction with the
production designer and the visual
effects people was very strong.
Also his sense of visual drama. And
then when you meet with a
director, you have a free,
creative exchange of ideas about
why they want to make the
movie. Basically, I'm looking for
somebody to say something that
I didn't think of. Brian
had a lot of confidence and
a lot of ideas. He's made
a lot of movies and he said,
'I know how to make this movie,
I visualize it like this.'
Basically, he excited us."
Jacobson admits that the original
script did not have anything
to do with "the face on Mars":
"We had what was described as
giant, symmetrical mound. Then,
once the sand was all blasted
off of it, it was described
as a half-spherical, although
clearly other-worldly artefact.
One that had been left behind.
One of Brian's first ideas when
he came into the room was
that it should be 'The Face
on Mars'. He said, 'It's part
of popular culture, it's fun,
something that the Mars
conspiracists all talk about,
and that's what we should use.'
So then we went into the
design aspect of the face, what
it should actually look like.
And we decided to go with a
very primitive look, with the
eye sockets and everything.
Brian had very specific ideas.
He wanted it to look beautiful
and, since it was something
left behind by a race that
was beckoning us, that it
should have a certain spiritual
quality to it. The phrase
he used to our designers
was, 'I want it to look like
a sleeping goddess.' So we
looked at the Buddhas in Cambodia,
as well as the work of
the modern artist Brancusi."
Musgrave on the actors: "You
can't generalize about astronauts,
because there is no such thing
as a generic astronaut.
In the same way, Gary's approach
to acting as if he was in zero
gravity was very different to
Connie's. Gary had a more
intellectual and analytical
approach, whereas Connie's was
more dramatic; she trained as
a dancer, so she tended to
dramatize the movements. In
the same way, I saw Jerry
as taking an athletic approach
and Tim a more theatrical approach."
The article also includes a
sidebar about Martian
Starlog June 2000
Starlog May 2000
Time April 10, 2000
Cinefex April 2000
shift April 2000
Vanity Fair April 2000
Interview March 2000
Starlog April 2000
Scientific American March 2000
Cinescape March/April 2000
Movieline March 2000
Cinefantastique April 2000
Sci-Fi April 2000
Premiere March 2000
|Posted June 13 2007|
MARS ONCE HAD OCEANS
PLANET HAD MASSIVE TOPPLING OVER, SAY SCIENTISTS
University of California at Berkeley scientists Mark Richards and Taylor Perron claim that Mars once contained oceans of water, the evidence of which has been obscured by the warping of the shorelines, which was caused by a massive toppling over of the planet. The oceans have been gone for at least 2 billion years. The scientists' study is published in the June 14th edition of the journal Nature. According to an article at AOL.com:
Two major shorelines exist on Mars, each thousands of miles long--one remaining from the older Arabia Ocean, and another from the younger Deuteronilus Ocean, said study co-author Taylor Perron of UC Berkeley.
"The Arabia would have contained two to three times the volume of water than in the ice that covers Antarctica," Perron told SPACE.com.
Somewhere along the way to toppling over 50 degrees to the north, Mars probably lost some of its water, leaving the Deuteronilus Ocean's shoreline exposed. "The volume of water was too large to simply evaporate into space, so we think there is still some subterranean reservoirs on Mars," Perron said.
The remaining sea would have been located in the same lowland plain as the Arabia Ocean, but almost 40 degrees to the north.
|Posted December 14 2006|
LIQUID WATER ON MARS
WITHIN THE LAST 5 YEARS, IMAGES SHOW
An article at New Scientist details findings based on images from NASA's now lost Mars Global Surveyor. The images show gullies that some scientists believe were carved by liquid water-- the new images show that the gullies were actively reated within the past several years, with one gully showing significant activity between the time it was imaged in 2001, and then reimaged in 2005. According to the article by David Shiga, "The researchers suggest the deposits were made by liquid water flowing out from beneath the surface. The researchers estimate that each flow would have involved 5 to 10 swimming pools' worth of water."
|Posted March 3 2004|
Mars was once wet enough for life to exist there...
NASA said Tuesday that it believes its Opportunity rover on Mars is currently sitting in what used to be a bed of water that was possibly as big as one of Earth's great lakes. Tom Van Flandern and Richard C. Hoagland spoke on Tuesday night's Coast To Coast AM radio show about that day's NASA press conference. The two agreed that it was a one-and-a-half-hour-long infomercial, designed to promote the idea of more missions to Mars over the next twenty years. Van Flandern and Hoagland pointed out that we already knew that Mars had water, and that there is frozen water on the planet right now. Therefore, NASA's "big announcement" was a PR stunt to get people intrigued. The idea pushed most by NASA in this conference was one to bring back rock samples from the planet, which Van Flandern stressed would be a very dangerous thing to do, as it would mean bringing possible alien life forms onto Earth. A better solution, he said, would be to send proper equipment on the next rover mission that could test the soil for signs of life-- something the current rovers are unable to do. Hoagland and Van Flandern said that the scientists on the conference panel were misleading the press. Van Flandern, wearing a regular press badge around his neck, asked one of the scientists if there had been any new signs of life on Mars. The scientist, not knowing who Van Flandern was (and with the press badge, most likely assuming that Van Flandern was part of the mainstream press), replied that the equipment they had up on Mars right now (the two rovers) had not shown anything of that nature. While this statement is true, it neglects and misdirects the fact that NASA's two rovers are in fact not equipped with any tools that could check for signs of life. Meanwhile, NASA has been insisting that the spheric "blueberries" (pictured above) are not actually blue ("even though we call them blueberries"), but are grayish. Hoagland claimed that they are actually blue-green in color, and that they are probably the result of another planet exploding into Mars sometime in its past. Hoagland did a little PR himself on the show, pointing out that he and his research team have been saying for years that Mars is a water planet, and wondering what has taken NASA so long to see the obvious.
|Updated June 30 2003|
EASTER EGG CONFIRMED ON REGION 2 M2M DISC
BUT GERMAN READER SAYS ONLY A "FUNNY GIMMICK"
Last winter, some DVD websites were reporting that the region 2 DVD (covering Japan, Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East) of Mission To Mars contains a hidden alternate version of the film's ending. At DVD Easter Eggs, instructions for accessing the scene read as follows: "Play sequence 15 (End Credits) until the end, then the same sequence restarts again but finishes before the credits with an alternate end scene." Since being reported here, one reader had written in to say that he has unsuccessfully tried to access any "easter eggs" on the region 2 DVD, even going so far as to copy it onto hard disk in order to run several authoring programs that were nevertheless unable to find any hidden scenes. Someone had e-mailed our reader telling him that in the alternate ending to Mission To Mars found on the easter egg, the Mars spaceship that Gary Sinise is riding in collapses with the NASA ship "in one big crash." De Palma a la Mod posted the above information as an update over the past weekend, discussing the possibility of such an ending being considered for the film, and concluding that for now the scene is only a rumor. But now a German reader has written in to inform us that the easter egg does indeed exist on the region 2 DVD of Mission To Mars: "I own the region 2 DVD (for Germany) and yes there is this sequence. It seems to me, that this is not an official alternate ending, but a funny gimmick. Maybe you have to see it to believe what I mean by that." So there you have it.
(Thanks to Scott and Marko!)
|Posted May 10 2003|
LIFE ON MARS
The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin, the Vice President, NASA, Masons, Egypt, Alfred Hitchcock, The Birds, Tippi Hedren, Matthew Perry, 19.5 degrees... well, it's Richard C. Hoagland, and you just have to see this for yourself.
|Updated February 1 2003 2003|
NASA'S NUCLEAR SPACE INITIATIVE
NEW PROJECT WOULD CUT TRAVEL TIME TO MARS BY TWO THIRDS
In Brian De Palma’s Mission To Mars, set in the year 2020, astronauts travel for six months through space to reach the "red planet," reflecting current technological and logistical facts about space travel and exploration. But President Bush is soon expected to announce his support for NASA’s Nuclear Space Initiative (NSI), dubbed Project Prometheus, which may lead to a nuclear-powered rocket that could cut that travel time from six months down to two months. The space agency plans to make Project Prometheus, named for the Greek god who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to humans, its top priority over the coming years. NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe told Peter Pae of the Los Angeles Times that the agency’s 2004 increased budget request will be “very significant.” NASA is expected to put $1 billion into the research project over the next five years. The talk revolving around this project speculates that it may allow a manned mission to Mars to be developed within the next decade, about ten years before De Palma’s film takes place. Supporters for such a trip are excited, but environmentalists remain opposed to the use of nuclear materials in space, and plan to protest in early February. It is perhaps for this reason that NASA’s spin machine discourages use of the term “nuclear rocket” when discussing the project.
STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
HOAGLAND TEAM HAS A FIELD DAY
|Posted July 25 2002|
NASA's "SO-CALLED 'FACE ON MARS'"
HOAGLAND: CYDONIA IMAGE IS NOT THE ONE WE ORDERED
Richard C. Hoagland received an e-mail late Sunday (July 21st) that he claims came from a very reliable source in the Bush administration. The source had been communicating via e-mail with "a well-informed NASA source" who told him that NASA would be releasing an infrared color "face" image, which would include the surrounding Cydonia region of Mars, taken from the orbiting Mars Odyssey. He mentioned that there would be a caption. When Hoagland's "Bush source" questioned the NASA source further about the caption, he replied that the image would show that there "is nothing particularly unusual about the feature" (the face), and that many other features have similar non-artificial characteristics.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NIGHT AND DAY
HOAGLAND SQUAWKS BLOODY MURDER
WAR WITHIN NASA; IMAGES ALREADY TAKEN?
|Updated May 30 2002|
ICE OCEANS FOUND ON MARS
NASA CANCELS PRESS CONFERENCE AFTER "LEAKS"
NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has provided evidence of vast quantities of water-ice lying just under large areas of the surface of Mars. The ice crystals, which are less than three feet below the surface, would create an ocean 500 meters deep if melted. According to NASA, what they have found so far would fill Lake Michigan two times over, and that may just be the tip of the iceberg. Since Mars has shown evidence of water in its past, researchers have been scratching their heads for decades wondering where the water went. The high-quality data from Mars Odyssey has stunned them by providing answers so quickly. The spacecraft has been in orbit around the planet since September of 2001, sending pictures of large areas, including the Cydonia region, back to Earth. It is equipped with a gamma-ray spectrometer, which allows it to look specifically for gamma rays that come from hydrogen. This hydrogen that it has found is believed to be frozen within the crystals of ice. A neutron spectrometer registers evidence of underground ice in the same areas as the hydrogen was found. According to Dr. David Whitehouse at BBC News, the finding is one of the most significant yet about the Red Planet, suggesting strong possibilities of past (and perhaps present?) life, and has insiders suggesting that NASA may commit to a manned mission to Mars within the next twenty years. The space agency had planned to announce the findings at a press conference on Thursday, May 30 2002, but quietly cancelled it the day before. When the Richard Hoagland team called to find out why, they were told that because the news was leaked almost a week beforehand, NASA no longer saw a need for a press conference. Hoagland sees this as NASA conveniently side-stepping a chance for the public to ask questions about the new findings, and suspects that someone within the space agency may have leaked the information purposely for that reason. Nevertheless, the detailed findings are to be published in the journal Science on Friday, May 31 2002.
|Posted May 26 2002|
SAVING FACE ON MARS
DE PALMA SAYS FILM IS MISUNDERSTOOD
Brian De Palma did a series of interviews recently for CanalPlus where he talked about various films, including Mission To Mars, which he has told many interviewers of late came from his desire to explore the purity of scientific discovery. He told CanalPlus about "the mythology of Mars, which is the Face on Mars, which people have been writing about since we had the first pictures of it." De Palma also discussed the negative reactions to the picture: "I think the reason I got so misread and not particularly critically-liked when I made this film is because it’s so idealistic." He explained that he comes from this scientific world, being a science wiz and hanging out with other science wonks when he was a kid. "Pure science tends to be a very kind of spiritual and idealistic world," he said, "something that we are quite unfamiliar with. And when you talk to these people that have been places and seen things that we will never see, they’ve got a kind of spirituality about them that is difficult to describe. So I tried to bring that kind of innocence and purity to the piece, which somehow everybody misinterpreted because I’m the prime urban cynic telling the story, and they kind of missed the point. People that go on these missions are extremely idealistic. They are extremely intelligent, they are extremely well-trained, and they go through things that we can’t even imagine. And you can only be driven by some spirituality [in order] to endure what these men have to endure. And that’s what I tried to show in this film." De Palma then proclaimed, somewhat sardonically, "And when they find out that that Face is exactly what I said it is, they’re going to reexamine this film in a whole new light!"
|MICROPHONE ON MARS|
FRENCH SPACECRAFT TO CARRY MIC UP IN 2007
Remember NASA's Mars Polar Lander, the spacecraft that got lost just before it was to land on the red planet in December of 1999? The production of Disney's Mission To Mars, working closely with NASA on the film project, was anticipating using real sounds from the surface of Mars via a $100,000 microphone that was aboard the spacecraft. The microphone was funded by The Planetary Society, a non-profit group of international space enthusiasts. The craft was never found, and NASA/JPL, monitoring for a signal, gave up when none was detected by January 17 2000. The atmospheric sounds of Mars would have given the film a sort of planetary travelogue aspect unique in the annals of cinema. Such was not to be, but The Planetary Society has announced that a microphone will be included in the French space agency's NetLander mission, which plans to land four small spacecraft on Mars in 2007. The microphone, which was developed by The University of California, Berkeley, is designed to record any sounds that may exist on Mars, including the crackle of electrical discharges, the rustle of the wind and the spacecraft itself as it operates.
MARS POLAR LANDER MAY BE INTACT
|CLARKE TAPS INTO 2001 ANOMALIES|
AUTHOR CONVINCED OF LIFE ON MARS, "NEW ENERGY"
Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, visited the home of 2001: A Space Odyssey author Arthur C. Clarke February 25th on the island of Sri Lanka. Talking to Space.com, the pair expounded on their thoughts about the state of space exploration in 2001 and in the future. "I'm fairly convinced that we have discovered life on Mars," Clarke stated before a silent Aldrin. "There are some incredible photographs from [the Jet Propulsion Laboratory], which to me are pretty convincing proof of the existence of large forms of life on Mars! Have a look at them. I don't see any other interpretation." Aldrin, instead of commenting on Clarke's statement, turned attention to the idea of "zero point energy," the powerful energy source that Brian De Palma's brother Bruce De Palma claimed to be tapping into with his N-Machine. Clarke said he was glad that Aldrin had brought up the "controversial" topic. "It started with this so-called cold fusion business," Clarke said, "which everybody laughed out of court. But I'm now convinced that there are new forms of energy, which we are tapping, and they make even nuclear energy look trivial in comparison. And when we control those energy sources, the universe will open up."
SYSTEM OF DISCLOSURE
BUSH'S BUDGET PLAN A BOOST FOR MARS
|HOAGLAND KEEPS HIS EYE ON MALIN|
NEW IMAGE OF THE FACE ON MARS...
...but this ain't exactly it. What you see here in this photo is a "patchwork" put together by Richard C. Hoagland at his Enterprise Mission website. A new image just released January 31 2001 by Michael Malin at Malin Space Science Systems, which captures a swath of the left side of The Face at Cydonia on Mars, has Cydonia researchers analyzing feverishly. Hoagland overlayed the new image over a "rectified" enhancement of a previous Face image by Mark Kelly, and also included an admittedly "bogus" interpretation (put together by Curt Johnach at Electric Warrior) of a supposed pupil that some researchers insist is apparent within the Face's eye socket. The pupil is, according to Johnach, "a speculative enhancement of surface features suggesting the shape of an eye, in the notorious Face on Mars. It should be understood that this image is dramatically altered. It illustrates where independent researches say there could be an eye. They'll even tell you this feature was already evident in MGS SP1-22003, the first MOC image of the Face, captured April 5, 1998." This new image of The Face, along with a new image of "The Cliff," mark the only new Cydonia images Malin has released since April 2000. The Mars Global Surveyor ended its Primary Mission orbit of the Red Planet on January 31st 2001, but an Extended Mission phase, imaging the planet while the spacecraft remains in orbit, is expected to last until at least April 2002. Hoagland sees this new release, unannounced beforehand, and, according to Hoagland, "clearly" showing that his and others' predictions about The Face were right, as part of a long term plan by NASA and JPL to disclose information about Mars to the public. He predicts more announcements about water and life on Mars to come from Malin around June 2001.
|NASA ANNOUNCES NEW EVIDENCE OF WATER ON MARS|
RESEARCHERS CLAIM ANCIENT DRIED-UP SEA BEDS IMAGED FROM MGS
In a report published on Friday December 8 2000 in the journal Science, two scientists claim that images snapped from the camera aboard its Mars Global Surveyor show evidence of dried-up sea beds on the planet Mars, indicating ancient signs of water which may have harbored life at one time. Michael Malin, whose Mars Orbiter Camera imaged the surface area in question, led a hastily put-together NASA press conference on Monday December 4 2000 along with fellow report author Ken Edgett. The pair, who made a splash last June with their announcement of "compelling" evidence of possible past or current water flowing underneath the surface of Mars, have caused another sensation with what they refer to as their "most significant discovery yet" regarding the planet's surface. The images suggest dried-up sea or lake beds similar to formations found on Earth. Yet because the atmosphere on Mars is different from that of Earth, some caution remains as to whether sediments which may have created the rock formations came from water or air. In short, Mars remains a mystery, but these new images and their implications make it a "wilder" and more exciting one for scientists. "We caution that the Mars images tell us that the story is actually quite complicated and yet the implications are tremendous," said Edgett. "Mars has preserved for us, in its sedimentary rocks, a record of events unlike any other that occur on the planet today." The discovery will alter the aims of NASA's planned Mars missions, as the area will now become a new target in the search for water, fossils, and other signs of life.
|McCARTHY HAS MORE RED FUEL TO BURN|
HEAD CRITIC PULLS FEW PUNCHES ON "LOUSY" PICTURES
Todd McCarthy, Variety's chief film critic, is seeing red again in Hollywood's Mars movies. Although stepping all over Brian De Palma's Mission To Mars in his review of that film last March, McCarthy finds first-time director Antony Hoffman's Red Planet (which opened November 10) to be an even more lackluster "lousy picture," bemoaning Hoffman's unimaginative filmmaking while extending praise for the film's technical achievements. "Ludicrous as it was," writes McCarthy, "Mission To Mars had style to burn compared to Red Planet, which is proddingly prosaic and only commands viewer attention with sporadically nifty special effects." Judging by the initial financial success of the earlier film, which he attributes to interest in the subject of sending humans to Mars, McCarthy predicted that the new Mars film would do well in its first weekend, but then drop off rather quickly thereafter. While M2M opened to about $22 million last March, a combination of factors (being the "second" Mars movie, competing with other major hits, and bad reviews) left Red Planet in the number 5 slot for its opening weekend, taking in about $8.5 million.