Mars and Beyond
|"Mars and Beyond"|
|Directed by||Ward Kimball|
|Featured music||George Bruns|
|Editing by||Lionel A. Ephraim, Lloyd Richardson|
|Original air date||December 4, 1957|
"Mars and Beyond" is an episode of Disneyland which aired on December 4, 1957. It was directed by Ward Kimball and narrated by Paul Frees. This episode discusses the possibility of life on other planets, especially Mars. The abridged version was also produced when this was originally released. This episode was released on DVD in 2004 as part of the Walt Disney Treasures line.
The film begins with an introduction by Walt Disney and his robot friend Garco, providing a brief overview of the episode. The overview starts with an animated presentation about mankind seeking to understand the world in which he lives, first noticing patterns in the stars, and developing certain beliefs regarding the celestial bodies. Theories from scientists and philosophers are discussed, including Ptolemy's inaccurate, but formerly-accepted geocentrism-related theories, as well as those of Copernicus's accurate and, now, confirmed heliocentric model. Life on other planets is considered, soon focusing on Mars. Ideas from science-fiction authors H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs are brought to life with more colorful animation, and, as done before, science fiction comics of the time are parodied. This segment also features Kimball's comic tone and a cameo appearance by Donald Duck.
After these scenes, the program adopts a serious tone as it profiles each of the planets in the Solar System, explaining what would happen if a human were to live on each of them. The program claims that, whereas most of the planets are either too cold or too hot for life as we know it, life on Mars could almost be normal. This importance becomes the main focus of the rest of the film. Dr. E.C. Slipher then discusses the possibility of life currently on Mars. More animation speculates at what the conditions on Mars might be like in the future.
The program wraps up with what a trip to Mars would entail for a space crew and its vessels. Contributor/spacecraft designer Ernst Stuhlinger presents his design and details regarding a unique umbrella-shaped Mars Ship: The top portion would be a revolving outer quarters ring providing artificial gravity for the crew of 20 under 'parasol' coolant tubes. At the other end, a sodium-potassium reactor would provide power to the midsection electric/ion drive. Attached upright would be a chemically-fueled winged tail-lander. The mission shown involves six Mars Ships with top speeds up to 100,000 miles per hour (160,000 km/h) that take a 400-day spiral course to Mars. There, a crew would spend 412 days on the surface before returning to Earth. The film envisions what some of the life on Mars might be like, including bizarre flora and fauna that inhabit the Martian world. Plants that eat other plants, migratory plants, and cannibalistic plants. Some species of animal life include a trilobite-like creature that eats dust left behind by dust storms, bizarre aliens that rely solely on minerals for nutrition, leaving behind amazing and strange rock formations, and a slew of predators, including one that has radial symmetry, and uses the Sun's rays to burn their helpless prey.
An educational film titled Cosmic Capers was edited out of this episode in 1979. It was shorter than the original and ran 18 minutes.