Gazing into the stars on a dark night, it is no longer a mystery what lies beyond our planet. With modern technological innovations, we are instantly able to find out exactly what star or planet we are seeing and how far away it is. But have you ever thought about actually traveling to a distant planet, exploring the vast landscapes untouched by the human hand? On Thursday, May 2, you will have the chance to see what people thought of space travel more than half a decade ago even before the first human went into space in 1961. On that night, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine arts in association with The Secret Cinema, will be hosting an event for another edition of their After Dark Series, which happens on six Thursdays throughout the year from 6-9pm. The event, entitled Spaced Out, will feature a presentation of the film Rocketship X-M, and other space related activities. This corresponds with the upcoming National Space Day on Friday, May 3rd, 2013.
Rocketship X-M is a science fiction film directed in 1950 by Kurt Neumann. It was a low budget film rushed into theaters to race against the premier of Expedition Moon, for the title of the first space-adventure film. Rocketship X-M was shot in only 18 days and involves a storyline about a fleet of astronauts traveling to the moon, but after being pushed off course by a meteor shower they are forced to land on Mars. Things get complicated from there: discovering an ancient city and getting into trouble with tribal martians, etc.
Now, to bring a little common sense into the picture, the moon is 227,445 miles away from earth, and 227.2 million miles from mars. That’s a difference with a factor of 1000. While it certainly would be quite an adventure to make a surprise trip to mars on a routine journey to the moon, such a diversion would simply be out of the realm of possibility, even with today’s technology. Nonetheless, the film promises to entertain, featuring notable red tinted Mars scenes and a score by classical and Jazz composer, Ferde Grofé, being the first to use the Theremin in a science fiction film.
Also on the schedule for the PAFA After Dark event is a bingo tournament, gallery flashlight-tours, and self-portrait silhouettes. Not to mention, popcorn will be provided for the snacking pleasure.
PAFA’s Arts After Dark program began in November 2010 as an opportunity for guests to “mingle in the galleries, enjoy signature cocktails and delicious food, revel in good music, explore the galleries on their own or with guides, and experience PAFA’s art treasures under the provocative blanket of night.” Previous After Dark installments have included a performance by the West Philly Orchestra, poetry readings, and a viewing of exhibits under UV light and X-Rays.
Nick Sukiennik is a sophomore Chemical Engineering Major at Drexel University.