Capricorn One

Year: 1977

Production: Capricorn One Associates / Associated General / ITC

Director: Peter Hyams

Starring: Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Brenda Vaccaro, Sam Waterson, O.J. Simpson, Hal Holbrook

Screenwriter: Peter Hyams

Novelization (1977) by Ron Goulart

124 minutes; Color

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-relation 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 spacecraft 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 favor of routine spectacle. The NASA should have cooperated in making the film is mystifying.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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