That’s when the sci-fi television series “Star Trek,” shaped public perception about space exploration in the far future.
The show followed the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise on its five-year mission to explore new worlds on behalf of the beneficent Federation.
Although the Federation faced challenges from space superpower rivals like the Klingons–paralleling Cold War themes–the Enterprise’s missions were largely humanitarian and altruistic. Humans were literally masters of the universe.
But space quickly became cold and hostile, starting with films like 1968’s Stanley Kubrick classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It examined the inexorable advance of technology and how our over-reliance on it could go horribly wrong.
After that, movies like 1972’s “Silent Running,” used space as a backdrop to examine the earthbound consequences of global warming, environmental disaster and war. Those themes re-appear in more recent movies like 2009’s “Avatar” and this year’s Tom Cruise picture “Oblivion.”
Sure there have been exceptions like 1977’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” but on the whole space has been a convenient source for all things evil and insidious that befall the human race. Think the “Alien” series and Ridley Scott’s latest movie “Prometheus.”
But Nolan’s trailer features warm and fuzzy images from the height of the U.S. space program–Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong, the moon landing and space shuttle–to recall what space exploration once meant to the nation.
“We count these moments… when we dared to aim higher, to break barriers — to reach for the stars,” says Matthew McConaughey in a haunting voice-over. “To make the unknown known.”
There are other iconic images, what we would call memes today–Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier; Apollo 11 astronauts boarding their rocket to the moon and Armstrong’s historic “one giant leap” statement as he set foot on the moon.
“Perhaps we’ve just forgotten that we are still pioneers,” McConaughey says, “that we’ve barely begun and that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, that our destiny lies above us.”
The plot focuses on a group of explorers, who use a newly discovered wormhole to travel the vast distances of space on a mission to save the earth from economic, environmental and social collapse, according to an official synopsis.
McConaughey stars with an all-star cast that includes Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Caine, John Lithgow and Matt Damon.
The film will be released by Paramount and Warner Brothers in November 2014. Nolan, best known for the Batman triology, may be strapping us in for a different kind of trip.
Check out the trailer below and be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest movie news, analysis and insights.