Conquest of Space (1955)

“According to the Bible, Man was created on the Earth. Nothing is ever mentioned of his going to other planets. Not one blessed word.”

COS Poster

Synopsis:
When the deeply religious leader (Walter Brooke) of a groundbreaking expedition to Mars begins to view the journey as blasphemous in the eyes of God, it’s up to his level-headed son (Eric Fleming) to preserve the lives of the remaining crew members: a Japanese botanist (Benson Fong), a loyal Irish sergeant (Mickey Shaughnessy), a Brooklynite electrician (Phil Foster), and a scientist (Ross Martin).

Genres:

Review:
Riding on the success of his earlier sci-fi hits — Destination Moon (1950), When Worlds Collide (1951), and The War of the Worlds (1953) — animator George Pal produced this tepidly received space exploration flick, which the New York Times referred to as “nothing more than broad, undemanding entertainment”. Unlike Destination Moon, Conquest has a rather far-fetched psychological plot embedded into its narrative, one which allows for a philosophical-cum-religious inquisition into the ethics of space travel: should Earth-born men really be venturing into the unknown, potentially “godless” universe? Unfortunately, Brooke’s sudden religiosity doesn’t ring true (it smacks soundly of “plot device”), and neither do the interactions between the other stereotypical characters on board the ship (Phil Foster’s “Noo Yawker” is particularly egregious). With that said, it’s refreshing to see a pre-“Star Trek” sci-fi film with an Asian cast member; as long as you ignore Fong’s notoriously wrong-headed speech early in the film, he’s a welcome presence.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some visually nifty — albeit technically crude — special effects
    COS Special Effects
  • Martin’s corpse drifting surreally into space
    COS Corpse
  • The fiery red Martian landscape
    COS Mars
  • The welcome presence of a Japanese man (Benton Fong) who’s treated as an intelligent equal
    COS Fong

Must See?
No, but fans of George Pal’s work will certainly be curious to check it out.

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One Response to “Conquest of Space (1955)”

  1. First viewing. For sci-fi fans who have a particular interest in the history of sci-fi cinema.

    Even though I’m not a huge sci-fi enthusiast, I can easily get swept up in something from the genre if it has a particularly intriguing angle or just stands out, for some reason – even a cult reason – as unique.

    This one did little for me personally. Though it’s not a terrible film (for what it is), it doesn’t have all that compelling a feel to it.

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