Monday, September 21, 2015

#1,862. Mission to Mir (1997)

Directed By: Ivan Galin

Starring: August Schellenberg

Tag line: "After decades of rivalry, the world's two greatest powers have discovered the value of friendship"

Trivia: For this movie, Imax trained eight astronauts to operate the IMAX camera, with each astronaut receiving a total of 25 hours of training

I grew up in the 1980’s, a time when the very notion that the United States and Russia would work together on anything was too ridiculous for words. By that point, the two countries had been natural enemies for decades, fighting a Cold War against one another that seemed to have no end in sight. Then the world changed, and these two super powers started to trust one another again. Mission to Mir, a 1997 IMAX-produced documentary, takes us aboard the Space station Mir (which is Russian for “peace”) to show us what’s possible when people who were once adversaries suddenly become friends.

Mission to Mir follows American astronaut Shannon Lucid during her record-breaking stay on the Mir Station, a place she called home for 188 days (from March 22 to Sept. 26, 1996). Working closely with her Russian peers, she performs a number of experiments, all designed to help us better understand how man might react to an extended stay in outer space. In addition, Mission to Mir gives us a brief history lesson on both the Russian and U.S. space programs, with clips of Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 orbit of the earth as well as the U.S. moon landing, Now, after years of working against one another, each nation is relying on the other to help mankind learn a bit more about the cosmos.

Like many of the IMAX space documentaries, Mission to Mir features impressive imagery (a brief shot of the station in orbit high above the earth is simply astounding). But the visuals you’ll remember after seeing this movie are of a more earth-bound nature, such as watching kids sled down a hill in Star City, Russia, where many of the current Cosmonauts reside. Thirty years ago, a simple scene like this would have been labeled “classified” and shoved into a Government file. The two countries still have their issues, of course, but the fact that we can all see this footage now is a testament to how far the U.S. and Russian governments have progressed.

And it’s this spirit of togetherness that Mission to Mir captures so wonderfully.

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