We are off to a preview screening of The Martian on Monday. We absolutely loved Andy Weir’s book and were thrilled to be invited along to see the big screen adaptation.
For those of you who have not read the book, it is tell the tale of a manned mission to Mars during which 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 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.
We’ve all had the feeling of being alone in the world but only Mark Watney knows the feeling of being alone on Mars. The book is an absolute page-turner and the film had us gripped too. With plenty for sci-fi fans to get their teeth into, it is crammed full of excitement and despite the tension there is fun to be had and also plenty of tech - a winning combination for us here at Comms Express!
The film is helmed by master director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Blade Runner) and features alongside Matt Damon a star-studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Such is our excitement about the film, we were keen to learn more. Here is what Matt Damon and Ridley Scott had to say about their work on The Martian.
“This is the ultimate survival story,” says director Ridley Scott. “Mark Watney is placed under unimaginable duress and isolation and the movie is about how he responds. Mark’s fate will be determined by whether he succumbs to panic and despair and accepts death as inevitable – or chooses to rely on his training, resourcefulness and sense of humour to stay calm and solve problems. “
Watney’s humour becomes a coping device, enabling him to stave off hopelessness and keep his mind from fixating on the dire circumstances. His penchant for remaining upbeat and optimistic is vital to the story and one of the character traits that attracted Matt Damon to the role.
“I loved the humour, not only from Watney, but from other characters as well,” says Damon. “The comedic tone is never glib and it complements the intense drama of the situation, which is not often something associated with the sci-fi genre.”
Says Scott: “I was fascinated by the near impossibility of Watney’s task and the team effort required, not only from NASA, but also international partners. Geopolitical rivals must overcome their differences and work together for the common goal of saving an astronaut’s life, and the entire world becomes transfixed by the size and complexity of that challenge.”
Screenwriter Drew Goddard was the man handed the responsibility of adapting the book and was elated to see his script in Scott’s hands, commenting, “I can still remember where I was sitting when I first saw the character of Roy Batty [portrayed by Rutger Hauer] reflect on c-beams glittering off the Tannhauser Gate in Blade Runner. (I was sitting third row back, left side of the White Roxy Theatre. I was seven years old.) Everything I have ever written has been influenced by Ridley Scott; his films are embedded in my creative DNA. To have this opportunity to work with him has been a genuine dream come true.”
Says Damon: “Watney is a botanist and mechanical engineer, and is sent on the Mars mission to study and take samples of the soil, hopefully to learn more about its composition and the feasibility of growing crops. He has the knowledge and training to find ways to survive, but time is working against him. He believes it will likely be three to four years before the possibility of rescue. In man versus nature scenarios, the smart money is usually on nature.”
The most important battle Watney must fight is with his own will. Despair would be as detrimental as the hostile Martian environment. He keeps a video log of his activities, suspecting it may likely serve as his final testament, injecting it with scientific methodology and a fair dose of wit.
Andy Weir adds, “I based Mark on my own personality, though he’s smarter and braver than I am, and doesn’t have my flaws. I guess he’s what I wish I were like. He’s Matt Damon.”
For Weir, the whirlwind progression from a serialised internet story to a major film production was a dream come true, but hard to believe. So he didn’t.
“I live in Northern California and had never met my agent in New York, nor the movie producer and the Fox executives in LA. So when they told me Ridley Scott was going to direct it I became convinced it had all been an elaborate hoax.”
Sounds the like the stuff of dreams, hey?