Satellites of the Sun

This will be the first of a couple of posts covering  a couple of the interesting short films I’ve found in the online archive of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

Satellites of the Sun

Click the picture to be taken to the video

First up Satellites of the Sun by Sidney Goldsmith.

There’s something gloriously ominous about this animation. It has a colour-on-black design overlaid with a deadpan narration which adds up to a film with a remarkably dark tone. It also avoids the normal cliché of Also Sprach Zarathustra and instead offers a wonderful score by Eldon Rathburn.

As we journey through the solar system we see the construction of a space telescope (hubble?) watched over by an astronaut as his crewmate tumbles over and over in time to the music. In another scene we see a lander apparently orbit 1685 Toro. I should mention that despite what it says in the film Toro isn’t in fact our “second moon”. It’s actually an asteroid locked in a similar orbit to our own – something that dates the film. There are also several illustrations of the surfaces of the planets as observers imagined them at the time of the film’s production. There’s an almost science fiction quality to it.

Satellites of the Sun was originally intended as an update for the remarkable short film Universe (itself was a source for 2001: A Space Odyssey) and aimed at Canadian schools. However Sidney Goldsmith decided because of the work involved he would make something wholly original.

I’m glad he did. Watch the film and be chilled by the faceless astronauts while your mind expands to take in the immensity of our Solar System.

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