Films about space
Since the late 1980s, BBC news crews have filmed all across the Soviet Union and Russia, but only a tiny portion of their footage was ever used for news reports. The rest was left unseen on tapes in Moscow. Filmmaker Adam Curtis obtains these tapes and uses them to chronicle the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rise of capitalist Russia and its oligarchs, and the effects of this on Russian people of all levels of society, leading to the rise to power of Vladimir Putin, and today’s invasions of Ukraine. The films take you from inside the Kremlin, to the frozen mining cities in the Arctic circle, to tiny villages of the vast steppes of Russia, and the strange wars fought in the mountains and forests of the Caucasus.
Adrift is a short film that explores the phenomenon of space junk, where human-made objects launched into space and are now defunct orbit the Earth literally as garbage. The film makes visible some of the immediate impacts and dangers of the technological escalation of this culture, where old satellites, spent rocket stages, and other items orbit the Earth, only to collide with one another at high velocities, generating smaller fragments that collide with other items, and so on. The end point is a cascading complex of junk that engulfs the entire space around the Earth. Adrift aims to make this phenomenon visible, putting a big question mark against the claims made by many futurists and technologists that future space colonisation would even be possible, if only it were a tenable or sensible idea in the first place…
Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space takes us to the Cold War and beyond, where an arms race of weapons technology plays out by the world’s superpowers in space. Satellites, nuclear weapons, tracking technologies, rockets—the weaponisation of space was and is more of the same colonialism in the tradition of empire, much like the sea battles of the 18th and 19th centuries. Indeed, as we learn through Operation Paperclip, the United States recruited than 1,600 scientists from Nazi Germany for work in the Space Race after the end of World War II. Fast forward to today, in the name of protecting commercial investment, the United States has crowned itself with being the so-called “arbiter of peace” in space. But with their weapons industry replacing almost all other manufacturing in America, this claim is ludicrous. More than fifty cents of every US tax dollar is spent on the military. The dream of the original Dr. Strangelove, Wernher von Braun—the Nazi rocket-scientist turned NASA director—has survived every US administration since World War II and is coming to life ever more rapidly. Today, space is largely weaponised, a massive military-industrial-complex thrives, and many nations are manoeuvring for advantage with yet more weapons of war, surveillance, and control.