Fifty three years ago, this month, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module (LM) “Eagle” carried three men to the Moon. The world watched in wonder how “one small step for man” changed the course of science, art, politics and culture forever. America’s Cold War scorecard registered a feat that was declared a collective human achievement. While the symbolism and imagery of the moon landing had a profound impact on global collective conscience, it was an event that had ample creative precedents. The Moon was always more than a curious celestial neighbour; it was a reality unique to each. Naturally, its cinematic possibilities were endless. We were already over the moon before the Apollo 11 crew. As an anniversary special, this series looks at some movie posters of the pre-landing period that have left us quite moonstruck!
“Stop shooting at our Moon!“
“Crisis at UN!” reads a running text in The Mouse on the Moon, a 1963 British comedy film directed by Richard Lester, adapted from the 1962 novel of the same name by Irish author Leonard Wibberley. The voiceover for the trailer continues, “An emergency session of the general assembly is called to act upon the Grand Duchy of Fenwick’s claim to the surface of the Moon. This claim by the world’s smallest country is documented in the motion picture, Mouse on the Moon. Thus from Grand Fenwick to the nations of the world, to Moscow, to Cape Canaveral, comes a stirring embattled plea–Stop shooting at our Moon!” So how does Grand Fenwick beat the Soviets and Americans to it? With bad champagne! You heard that right. The Fenwicks are a clever lot. Realizing that their champagne is unsuitable for export (since the bottle explodes while uncorking), the Prime Minister decides on a plan to overcome the financial ruin. He appeals to the world powers for donations for space research, the funds for which are secretly used to rebuild the country. The Americans, British and Soviets readily extend a helping hand, too occupied in their Cold War dynamics to consider Fenwick a major competition. Not until a genius professor discovers that wine makes for excellent rocket fuel! Soon the façade of international space cooperation comes undone along with great power entitlement to outer space. Released snuggly between the signing of the Antarctic Treaty (1959) and the Outer Space Treaty (1967), the film makes one wonder today–do we have everybody’s signature? Who can say for certain that a modern day Fenwickian microstate won’t lay claim to the next big thing in extraterrestrial real estate! Here’s a clip from the movie to get you rolling on the floor.