Capricorn One
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Capricorn One

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As long as people have been talking to each other are always been a few that exhibit suspicion and paranoia far greater than their peers. Unwilling or unable to accept the commonly accepted explanation, they see conspiracies lurking in every shadow. At best friend and I have come up with a modernized view of a logical axiom that we call ‘Occam's Phaser’. Simply put, the most convoluted and impossible explanation is inevitably the truth. And if you don’t believe it then ‘they’ have already gotten to you. Major events that have shaped the world of most subject to the scrutiny of self-styled conspiracy theorists; the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a massive covert operation that included, depending on which they are a you are considering, cooperation between the FBI, CIA, Fidel Castro organized crime and even extraterrestrials. There are even those who still trying to make a case that the earth is flat and the lie and that so-called evidence that our planet is a sphere is been manufactured to misleaders from the truth. One of mankind’s most significant achievements culminated on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong made the first human footprint of the surface of the moon. Despite all the evidence supporting this monumental event there are still those who feel that it was a massive hoax to cover the embezzlement of billions of dollars in falsely propel the aerospace industry to one of the most profitable economic entities in the world. If you’re interested in a rational, scientifically examined look at the conspiracy theories surrounding this landing take up an episode of ‘MythBusters’ with the meticulously show that facts and science debunked these ludicrous theories. These conspiracy theories have gained a significant popularity still, after being shown false by a preponderance of evidence, is still believed by a lamentably number of American citizens. Almost a decade after that historical first step for mankind, Warner Brothers produced a movie that directly addresses some of the proposed methods used to pull off this impossibly complex deception, ‘Capricorn One’.

After years of highly publicized and very expensive hard work, NASA was about to launch, Capricorn One, demand is first manned mission to the planet Mars. The vehicle is already on the Launchpad reading you momentous blast off the new under the project’s lead scientist, Dr. James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook), that he key component to the life-support system would fail, while the journey was underway and the crew to deepen space to be rescued. As it turns out, the failure is almost certain it was a result of the greedy and corrupt subcontractor. Not only would this result in the horrible death of the crew, but would certainly greatly enhance the position of people against spending such an ornament loan amounts of cash on exploring our solar system. The public outcry would exert an inexorable pressure on those in Capitol Hill controlling NASA’s purse strings bringing about the end space exploration. The men in charge on the mission, obviously, including real rocket scientists, can think of only one plausible solution; fabricate the entire mission. Considering the length of time necessary for spacecraft to go to Mars in return, the façade would have to be perpetuated for prolonged period of time. Many anti-conspiracy theorists in real life are quick to point out that the most significant evidence that such a deception can never be pulled off by the government that this would require a level of cooperation in secrecy that is difficult to believe the government can actually achieve.

The cruel Capricorn One; Air Force Colonel Charles Brubaker (James Brolin), Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Peter Willis (Sam Waterston), and Navy Commander John Walker (O. J. Simpson), all removed from the launch facility at the very last minute. Millions watch the rocket successfully lift into the air, not realizing there was no one on board. While the public is awestruck at what they are seeing, the crew has been covertly taken into custody and secretly taken to a conveniently deserted Air Force Base. They are quickly briefed about what has happened in the park they will play in the cover-up. They will be held incognito at the base and falsified video feeds of their progress along the way and ultimately a successful landing an exploration of Mars. Initially, the Men are understandably reticent to go along with such an outlandish lie to the public. They are told that it is their patriotic duty necessary in order to preserve our countries, prestige and the morale of our citizens. When the appeal to their jingoistic pride fails to convince them they are told in no uncertain terms of the national tragedy of their families traveling together on a plane that explodes in midair. These are basically the same reasons that conspiracy theorists attribute to their belief of why the Apollo missions had to be falsified. With the Apollo conspiracies, a common thread binding most of them is that Stanley Kubrick, or some other Hollywood director, fluent in special effects, at the technology to make believable film of a nonexistent mission.

Just when it appeared that ‘They’ were about to get away with their nefarious scream an unexpected twist occurs. The major drawback in such a complicated plan is it requires a staff to convince the public. A technician Elliot Whitter (Robert Walden) is very good at his function and, because of security concerns, not entirely aware of the grand deception, notices a discrepancy in timing between the data telemetry and the television feed from the crew. They should have been received simultaneously due to the time lag to Mars but the video feed preceded the data. He shares his concerns with a friend, Robert Caulfield (Elliott Gould), who happens to be a journalist. When he begins to investigate all traces of Whitter disappear; he never existed. Exacerbating the sinister nature finds his reputation and safety under attack.

When the empty command module returns to earth it burns up without a trace allegedly a result of a failure of the heat shielding. Of course this creates a significant problem, albeit one the show runners can easily resolve. The crew can never be seen again; they are supposed to be dead, a condition that can be readily arranged. This leads to a third act extended chase sense that includes the conspiracy aficionado’s favorite trope, the infamous black helicopter. Well, actually they are Army olive drab but the incineration is quiet clear. The film is obviously dated and much of the clamor over the veracity of the Apollo lunar missions but cinematically it manages to hold together as a thriller that continues to be entertaining. The screenwriter/director, Peter Hyams has a body of work particularly suited to the themes presented here. As far as outer space geared Sci-Fi goes he did ‘2010’ and ‘Outland’. For conspiracy experience he has ‘The Star Chamber’ on his resume. This movie has been available on DVD for a number of years but finally it has been released on Blu-ray. High definition does reinvigorate an old guilty pleasure and reminder of growing up during the Space Race.

Posted 01/10/2015

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