1979 saw the release of what is universally considered one of the scariest movies of all time. Alien, directed by Ridley Scott, told the story of a crew trapped in a spaceship with an organic killing machine. The film spawned a series of sequels and spin-offs, and Scott returned to the genre to work on Prometheus a whopping 30 years later. Now he’s back in space again directing The Martian, starring Matt Damon … and a little device known as a GoPro.
In a recent press release, GoPro, Inc. stated that the collaboration between Scott and the company marks the most significant use of its action cameras in Hollywood history. “We used GoPro cameras in several of our biggest scenes in The Martian, and they really allowed us to capture not only the intensity and suspense of these moments, but also the intimacy of the characters themselves,” said Scott.
Initially, Scott implemented the cameras as part of the astronauts’ space suits — a prop more than anything else. But then he discovered that the cameras added authenticity and helped drive the narration forward. Once Damon’s character Mark Watney is left alone on Mars, he uses his camera as a personal diary, and it becomes his sole companion. This also solved Scott’s struggle to adapt The Martian from novel to film. The book was written from a first-person perspective by author Andy Weir. By giving the protagonist a device to speak to, the audience is privy to his thoughts and experiences. Watney’s relationship with his camera has been compared to that of Chuck Nolan (played by Tom Hanks) and his volleyball Wilson in 2000’s Cast Away.
As a film, The Martian provides the audience with a unique perspective on Watney’s life on the Red Planet. When mounted to his suit, we see and hear everything he does, and it feels natural and authentic. Since they were first introduced, GoPros have been used to capture footage of the most mundane and extraordinary adventures people can come up with. Some of these videos command tens of millions of views on sites like YouTube.
Earlier this year, NASA astronaut Terry Wirts took a GoPro outside the International Space Station and filmed two of his EVAs (extravehicular activities). The stunning video includes footage of the astronauts working while the sun rises high above the earth. The entire hour-long video can be seen here.
Imagine when we’ll get real GoPro footage from Mars?