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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Marooned (1969)

Category: Reviews

Marooned Want to see Gregory Peck among beeps and clicks? He did do this role of the head of a manned space mission in Marooned (1969). Peck plays Charles Keith, NASA, director who has to make some difficulty decisions after the engine of a returning spacecraft carrying three astronauts (played by Richard Crenna, Gene Hackman, and James Franciscus) fails and renders them marooned in earth’s orbit. With limited oxygen supply in the spacecraft and a fierce storm hovering over the space station on earth, the three guys orbiting the earth in spacesuits face impending death unless Keith and his team at the space center on earth come up with a practicable solution.

The film is a little over 2 hours and proceeds gradually, without any sensationalism created by background music (thankfully, there is none here) or unexpected twists, toward a climax—that is until the soviet spacecraft appears from nowhere to help with oxygen supply. But the suspense keeps climbing from Keith’s challenge to launch a rescue mission all the way to the big question of whether the three stranded astronauts will be able to keep calm or start fighting for the remaining oxygen.

Peck as always is cool in performance and his characteristic authority over his screen character. In the context of time, the special effects are very much believable (the film actually won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects), reliving the aura of watching the Apollo mission to the moon.
   
Marooned remains a classic and pioneering production of its kind, released a decade before Alien (1979) won millions permanent fans of the space-travel in Science Fiction cinema. Beside the lasting charm of Gregory Peck, the film is notable for its realism and portrayal of discipline and coordination in challenging times. It’s for all audiences, except those who can’t stand watching a whining Gene Hackman.