When earthman finally walks upon the sands of Mars, what will confront him in this mysterious new world? Will any of his conceptions of strange and exotic Martian life prove to be true? Will he find the remains of a long dead civilization? Or will the more conservative opinions of present-day science be borne out with the discovery of a cold and barren planet where only a low form of vegetable life struggles to survive?
Our space pioneers of the future will answer these questions. And they are the ones posed in Walt Disney’s Disneyland TV program dealing with the space age, Mars and Beyond. Via live-action, animation and a unique combination of both, the fascinating, exciting story of outer space travel and possibilities of life on other planets constitute an absorbing viewing hour.
Introducing the show, Disney says simply: “One of the most fascinating fields of modern science deals with the possibility of life on other planets. This is our story.” It begins with the earliest speculation of life on Mars and other planets. From the cave man’s initial awareness of the stars, the dramatization notes the suppositions about the earth and other planets advanced by a succession of philosophers, astronomers, historians and fiction writers down to the 20th Century.
Taking cognizance of the frequent rumors that Martians disguised as earthmen walk among us — strengthened by thousands of reports of unidentified flying objects — Disney digresses momentarily with a hilarious cartoon satire on science-fiction stories.
In serious vein, the miracle of creation is explored. The structure of an infinite universe, cold and dark, inconceivably vast, without beginning and without end is depicted. Our own universe — The Milky Way, one of trillions in the great cosmic void, is portrayed to demonstrate the seeming universality of the laws of creation and the certainties that other planets may harbor life. The earth is singled out as an example of how the wonders of life may be evolving with infinite variation on other planets as well as throughout the universe. Its misty beginnings from cosmic dust, birth of our solar system and the slow, complex forces that develop into life and eventually man, are amazingly recreated.
Man is next revealed in the environment of other planets in our solar system to disclose his ability to survive. Broad as life’s 100 degree temperature range seems to be, it is nothing compared to the bitter cold and intense heat that marks the extremes of other planets. Moving away from the sun, man is depicted as able, with proper protection, to live on Mars, a new frontier of increasing importance in future plans to solve the serious problems of over-population and depletion of natural resources.
Historical discoveries concerning Mars are traced, based on a succession of astronomical observations. These are pictured adding to the Martian mystery — the presence of white polar ice caps, canals and other incomprehensible sightings. This sets the stage for a live-action explanation from Dr. E.C. Slipher of Lowell Observatory, considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on Mars, on just what the modern astronomers know about the planet.
Dr. Slipher leaves open to speculation what is known about Mars. In a unique Disney pictorial treatment, an ethereal montage is seen of speculative possibilities of Martian life… plant life that migrates in search of richer soil, or plants that feed on themselves. And, if animal life has developed on Mars, its many weird and mysterious forms are theorized upon in an imaginative display of the artists’ and animators’ skills.
The intriguing possibility of traveling to Mars in a space ship is explored by two of the world’s most outstanding authorities in the rocket and guided missile field, Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger and Dr. Wernher von Braun. Their answer is an atomic-powered space ship, 500-feet across carrying a small landing craft for the final descent to the Martian surface.
How the ship is constructed in an orbit in the vacuum of space and the eventual expedition to Mars is accomplished, forms a gripping chapter for Disney’s Tomorrowland science-factual presentations which have previously consisted of Man in Space and Man and the Moon.
Mars and Beyond concludes on a futuristic note with flying saucers leaving a Martian space port to enter a mother ship which zooms away into the cosmic void.
From the original 1957 Mars and Beyond press materials