“When Worlds Collide” it’s a science fiction film of 1955 directed by Rudolph Mate. The film follows a space mission to Mars, made up of an international crew of astronauts who are confronted with technical problems, internal strife and unforeseen events during their journey.
The film was produced at a time when space exploration was still a dream, as the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, would not be launched until 1957. However, advances in science and technology had already inspired many writers and filmmakers imagine the future of space exploration.
The film uses quality special effects for the time and has a cast made up of notable actors of the time, including Walter Brooke, Eric Fleming and Mickey Shaughnessy. However, despite the huge production effort, the film was a box office failure and received negative reviews from critics, who criticized the weak plot and lack of character depth.
“When Worlds Collideis considered a film that tried to be innovative, but failed to surpass its era. However, it remains an interesting work for fans of the science fiction genre, as it represents one of the first attempts to depict space exploration on big screen.
The plot of “When Worlds Collidefollows a space mission of an international crew of astronauts heading to Mars to establish a permanent base on the red planet.
The crew is led by Commander Merritt (played by Walter Brooke) and his second in command, Captain Barney (played by Eric Fleming). However, several technical problems occur during the voyage that put the lives of the crew at risk. Furthermore, internal tensions also emerge between the crew members, due to the different nationalities represented.
Once on Mars, the crew discovers that they are not the only ones to have reached the planet: in fact, a group of Russian explorers is already there and has established a base on the surface of Mars.
While trying to overcome technical difficulties and internal tensions, the crew learns that Merritt’s father, a military general, has plans to send a terraforming mission to Mars to make it habitable for humans. This discovery creates further conflicts within the crew, who must come to grips with their opinions on whether to change another planet’s natural environment.
The plot of “When Worlds Collidefocuses on the challenges facing the crew, both technically and psychologically, on their journey to Mars and the tensions that emerge between crew members.
Here are the main characters of the film “When Worlds Collide”:
- Walter Brooke as Commander Samuel Merritt: The leader of the space mission and son of a military general. Merritt must navigate the technical difficulties of the mission and the internal tensions of the crew, while trying to comply with his father’s orders.
- Eric Fleming as Captain Barney Merritt: The second-in-command of the mission and son of the commander. Barney Merritt has a difficult relationship with his father and tries to prove his worth during the mission.
- Mickey Shaughnessy played Andre Fodor: A Russian engineer who is part of the crew. Fodor is the only non-American crew member and clashes frequently with Captain Merritt.
- William Redfield played Mahoney: The crew doctor who tries to maintain order among the crew members and keep morale high during the mission.
- Ross Martin as Général Michel St. Clair: The commander of the terraforming mission to Mars. St. Clair represents the military authority that guides operations on Earth and plays an important role in the plot of the film.
- Vito Scotti played Father Père Finlay: A Catholic priest who is part of the crew and tries to support the crew members during the mission.
These are just some of the characters in the film ‘Conquest of Space’, but there are other crew members and supporting characters who contribute to the plot of the film.
“When Worlds Collide” is a 1955 science fiction film directed by Rudolph Maté and produced by George Pal Productions. The film was distributed by Paramount Pictures and presented in Technicolor version.
The screenplay was written by James O’Hanlon, based on the short story “Mars Is My Destination” by Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley. The production of the film was entrusted to George Pal, one of the most famous science fiction film producers of the time, also known for having produced “The War of the Worlds” (1953) and “Destination Earth” (1954). The film’s production was approximately $800,000, a large sum at the time. The film was shot in the Paramount studios in Los Angeles and in some locations in California, such as the Mojave desert and the beach in Malibu.
Innovative techniques were used for filming the space scenes, such as shooting images on low-resolution screens, with the addition of graphic elements and miniature models. These special effects were handled by Wah Chang, one of the most famous special effects artists of the time.
“When Worlds Collide” was one of the first films to deal with space exploration, anticipating the start of the era of NASA space missions by a few years. The film was a commercial success, although it received mixed reviews from critics , who enjoyed the special effects but criticized the plot and characterization.
Distribution and Reception
“When Worlds Collidewas released to theaters on April 20, 1955, by Paramount Pictures. The film was shown in Technicolor and widescreen format.
The film’s reception from audiences and critics was mixed. On the one hand, the film was quite commercially successful, grossing about $1.5 million at the box office. On the other hand, the film was criticized for its simplistic plot and underdeveloped characterization.
In particular, critics have highlighted the lack of real narrative tension and the presence of some science fiction clichés of the time. However, the film was appreciated for the innovative special effects and for the imagery of the conquest of space that it represented, then still far from being a concrete reality.
In general, “When Worlds Collidewas one of the first films to explore the theme of space exploration, and paved the way for many other science fiction films about the conquest of space. In addition, the film helped create a new image of America as a leader in the race to space, at a time when the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union for space primacy was increasingly heated.
The film “When Worlds Collide” was made in a style typical of 1950s science fiction films. The film uses many innovative techniques for the time, such as the use of miniature special effects and the creation of spatial settings through the combination of models and images projected on screens.
The cinematography of the film was done by Winton Hoch, who used a very theatrical lighting technique, with the use of strong and clear lights that highlight the shapes of objects and characters.
The film’s soundtrack, composed by Nathan Van Cleave, uses orchestral and choral instruments to create an epic and solemn atmosphere, typical of science fiction films of the time.
The film also has a strong ideological component, which manifests itself in a series of speeches and dialogues that celebrate the ideals of America and the technological superiority of the United States. In particular, the film highlights the role of scientists and engineers in space exploration, presenting them as the heroes of the conquest of space.
In general, the style of the film “When Worlds Collide” is characterized by a strong emphasis on the imagery of the conquest of space, which is represented with an epic and solemn atmosphere. The film presents an optimistic vision of the future of humanity, based on man’s ability to dominate nature and overcome the limits of one’s existence.
The director of “When Worlds Collide” is Rudolph Maté. Maté was a Hungarian-born American director and cinematographer who worked in Hollywood from 1940 until his death in 1964.
Maté directed a number of films, including ‘When Worlds Collide’ (1951) and ‘The 300 Spartans’ (1962), but he was also a famous cinematographer, working on such films as ‘Gilda’ (1946) and ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928).
Maté used his experience as a cinematographer to create a strong visual identity for ‘Conquest of Space’, using innovative techniques for the time such as the use of miniature special effects and theatrical lighting to create an epic atmosphere .
However, Maté’s direction has also been criticized for its lack of depth and experimentation. In particular, critics have highlighted his tendency to favor the visual aspect of the film to the detriment of the construction of the characters and the plot.