Ian Fleming, author of
the James Bond series of spy novels, knew something of the conspiracy
and introduced as a piece of whistle-blowing the interior lunar
surface set as a scene in the James Bond motion picture Diamonds
Are Forever. [David Percy]
This would have been quite a feat considering that Fleming was
dead when Diamonds Are Forever was produced. He died in August
1964. Diamonds Are Forever was released in December 1971, with
the screenplay having been written during the previous year.
Ian Fleming could hardly have introduced such a revelation in the
novel Diamonds Are Forever (1956), at least not with a lunar
landing conspiracy in mind. President Eisenhower did not approve the
Apollo project until 1959 and John F. Kennedy did not breathe life
into it until 1961. In fact, Fleming had largely nothing to do with the motion
picture versions of his films produced by Albert Broccoli and Harry
Saltzman and written by Richard Maibaum. The legal disputes over the
film rights, the use of SPECTRE in the Broccoli/Saltzman films, and
the proper legacy of the Bond tales are still matters of controversy
and debate in the 007 fan community.
The 1978 movie
Capricorn One proved just how plausible a falsified NASA
A Hollywood film can do lots of things because the writer controls
all the characters. He just writes that the people in the film are
fooled by the hoax, and the actors playing those people pretend to be
fooled. It's that easy. It's fiction, not a documentary.
Although writer/director Peter Hyams touches on a few techniques
that could be used to perpetrate a hoax, he doesn't fully explore what
would be necessary in the real world. He doesn't have to. He's
telling a story. He only has to fool characters that he controls.
For example, the astronauts' voices from the spacecraft are being
falsified by recordings made during simulations. This would work only
until someone asked a question that wasn't covered during simulations.
It's practical enough to achieve willful suspension of disbelief for
the film's sake, but not practical enough to use in real life over and
The Capricorn One scenario works because it's a hoax
perpetrated in an environment invented and controlled by Hyams.
The Mars surface footage
in Capricorn One looks suspiciously like the lunar surface
footage from NASA.
This is probably because Hyams had several hours of Apollo video
footage as a reference. It doesn't make the Apollo footage any less
credible or Hyams' any more credible.
WARNER HOME VIDEO
masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey showed that convincing
special effects were possible in 1968, and that accurate depictions of
space travel could be produced on movie soundstages.
It's up to individual preference whether to believe the effects in
2001 were credible and accurate. We don't believe they were
actually created in outer space. Here's where the cat gets let out of
- There are too many goofs. In several scenes we can see
evidence that this is a manufactured film. We can see the edges of
scenery panels, fly wires, reflections of equipment, rear projections,
etc. These imperfections appear in every feature film despite efforts
from filmmakers. Kubrick had several months and a large budget to
orchestrate what would eventually be only two and a half hours of
final product, and there were still errors. The Apollo program
produced ten times that much footage with no editing seams and with no
- The astronomy is wrong. The views from earth to the moon,
and of the earth from the lunar surface don't match. For example, the
earth is high in the lunar sky as seen from Clavius; it should be low
on the horizon. The phase of the earth changes radically between
- The photography is wrong. As in every space movie, we see
a moving starfield in all the space scenes in 2001, along with
sunlit objects. You cannot photograph both with the same camera
settings. And even if you had a magical camera that could do it, the
starfield shouldn't move. The cinematic reason for the moving
starfield is to provide a background against which the motion of the
foreground can be reckoned; filmmakers acknowledge it doesn't really
happen that way, but it needs to happen in a movie.
- The propulsion is wrong. As Dr. Floyd's lunar transport
lands, the dust billows as it would in an atmosphere, because it was
filmed in an atmosphere. The dust would displace in a vacuum, but it
would tend to form a flat sheet and would disperse quickly. When Dave
Bowman blows the emergency hatch on the pod in order to re-enter the
airlock, the pod stays right there. It should have been propelled
away from the ship by the force of the escaping air.
- The zero-gravity scenes are wrong. As Dr. Floyd ascends to
orbit he sips through a straw, and the fluid level drops back down to
the container when he lets go. Sure, it could be a vacuum effect, but
it's not the way drinking happens currently in zero gravity. In
several scenes you can see supposedly weightless people moving as if
there were gravity -- "grip soles" notwithstanding:
- The Pan-Am captain hunches over Dr. Floyd's seat as a man in
normal gravity would have done in order to rest his body weight on the
seat back. Such a "hunker" is intuitive in gravity, but uncomfortable
and unnatural in weightlessness.
- Dr. Floyd's tray rises up from his lap -- presumably because
Dr. Floyd has forgotten to secure it. What made it spontaneously
start floating upward? Why did it sway from side to side? And why did
it stop floating upward for no visible reason a split-second
before Dr. Floyd grabs it? Newton screams "fraud!" at this sort of
- The low-gravity scenes are wrong. The space station floor
curves upward correctly to indicate the inside of a torus that spins
to provide artificial gravity. But as the characters move about the
scene they remain vertical with respect to the frame. They should
instead tilt perpendicular to the angle of the floor where they are
standing. There are numerous scenes that supposedly take place on the
lunar surface, but no evidence of lesser gravity can be seen. The
characters move as they would have on earth.
- The lunar landscape is wrong. Kubrick shows us
sharp-pointed mountains even though high-definition close-range
photographs from Lunar Orbiter 2 (1966) showed the rounded mountains
familiar in Apollo photographs.
Again conspiracists claim to be able to identify obscure and
minute anomalies in Apollo photos and video, but they can't seem to do
it with their own evidence. Nevertheless the important point is the
conspiracist argument that NASA could do it because Kubrick could do
it. As we've seen, Kubrick can't do it. He can't establish
and maintain a truly credible "hoax" for two hours. Nor are the
special effects convincing enough to fool observant people into
actually thinking they represent space or lunar environments.
But there's actual
evidence -- historical accounts -- that Kubrick worked with NASA to
fake the footage.
Many conspiracists, led by Clyde Lewis, point to an article circling around the Internet which
purports to describe in detail the process Kubrick used to fake the
moon landings. But the article is obviously intended as a joke, as a
careful reading reveals.
Stanley Kubrick's and
Peter Hyams' budgets were very small compared to NASA's. With $40
billion and professional physicists on hand to correct mistakes, these
directors could have made the effects much more
If so then the supposed genius of 2001: A Space Odyssey and
Kubrick are irrelevant. The argument was that Kubrick was such a
brilliant filmmaker he could have made a convincing hoax. But if
Kubrick would have needed expert advisors, then those advisors (not
Kubrick) would have been the real geniuses behind it. The
conspiracists are just back to speculating about what might be
done with supposedly limitless resources. The demonstrable state of
the art in 1968 -- compelling but not convincing -- doesn't really
have much to do with that.
And it really didn't have much to do with budget. The problems in
2001: A Space Odyssey and Capricorn One had more to do
with deciding what effects to attempt rather than attempting good ones
and failing. Budget would have increased the quality of the effects,
but not their faithfulness to real life. No matter how much money you
spend making a realistic starfield, it doesn't compensate for the fact
that you shouldn't see one -- much less a moving one. The glitches
also deal with basic filmmaking techniques, something Kubrick should
already have known, and physicists wouldn't necessarily be helpful.
Consider also Silent Running. Kubrick budgeted $10 million
for 2001: A Space Odyssey, while Douglas Trumbull's Silent
Running was shot for about a tenth the cost. Trumbull produced
the visual effects for both films. Silent Running is less
ambitious than Kubrick's masterpiece, but achieves a greater level of
consistency and credibility. Increasing the budget does not
automatically increase the quality and seamlessness of the final