During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meagre supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring ‘the Martian’ home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.
Ridley Scott is now seventy-seven years old, yet The Martian appears to be the work of a young man. When Watney, having made contact with Earth, states that he is ‘really looking forward to not dying’, he speaks for the whole production, which thrums with an appetite for life. The film, based on a novel by Andy Weir, is so light on its feet that anybody listening at the cinema door might think that there was a comedy playing inside.
It is thirty-six years since Scott made Alien and the true companion piece to that great film is The Martian. Sigourney Weaver and Matt Damon are cut from similar cloth; both are loners by force of circumstance and copers by instinct. In a recent interview, Scott described Robinson Crusoe as ‘one of my favorite books as a kid’ and its hero as ‘the first astronaut’ and the new film tunes in to that old fixation. So does its leading man. Damon has never seemed more at home than he does here, millions of miles adrift. Would any other Hollywood actor have shouldered the weight of the role with such diligent grace and ability to represent us all? He is stranded on our behalf, tasked with digging up the best of himself.
It won two awards at the 2016 Golden Globes: Best Film and Best Actor, for Matt Damon.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall