Moon Zero Two : Film Review Photo
Moon Zero Two Copyright Hammer Film Productions & Warner Bros-Seven Arts - (MZ2 review Version 4)..
As a long time fan of
this film I have collected more than a few photographs
over the years; so I present them here with a general
overview of the film for those of you who haven't seen it
before - or wish to be reminded of this great classic.
Also I recently received a collection of Black & White behind-the-scenes photographs taken by Neil Swan, who worked for many years with Les Bowie. These have generously been donated for use on this site by his brother James. Many thanks to him and the following people who have now contributed to this article.
thanks to Martin Gainsford - Phil Rae - Mark Harris -
Simon Greetham - Barry Hinchliffe
Moon Zero Two..
|The film opens with down-on-their-luck astronauts Bill Kemp (James Olson) and Dmitri Karminski (Ori Levy) trying to raise some money by salvaging a broken communications satellite, in their private Moon ferry 'Moon Zero Two'. This vessel features the dirty/used spacecraft look, popularised years later by 'Star Wars'. Below Right: James Olson examines the damaged satellite. Note blacked-out support rig at his waist that allows the prop to rotate in his hands. The views of him moving in space appear to be done by moving the camera while he stands still in a blacked-out stage, as opposed to the wire-work done later by stunt doubles. Hanging the 'Star' on wires was probably considered too risky.|
|Left: UNUSED SFX shot of the
MZ2 featuring the hatchway open with miniature figure of
astronaut Kemp. By now you notice that there are no stars
visible in the SFX shots and in fact there aren't any in
the entire movie.
This was actually stated clearly in the shooting script (but it could have also been adopted due to technical/budget restrictions) and makes the film seem more real, because you don't often see stars in real NASA space footage, due to the extreme brightness of the sun.
find the world you're seeking, Where star's are new in the
Its time to fly, Deep space is calling you........
say the Moon Zero 2 was heavily influenced by the real
life Lunar landing vehicle would be a major
understatement. At first glance (and second) the MZ2
model does look just like the real life Lunar Module;
with differences being the addition of a midsection and
the surface panels corrugated and orange paint detail
The space shots were photographed using the same type of technique that was later used to greater effect in Space: 1999. The model was attached to a support pipe protruding through a black velvet background and then all the movement was created by moving the camera backwards and forwards, not the model. (It's easier to keep the heavy camera stable)
Right; Jack Wallis at work with the hero model.
First view of the Moons surface and we can see the landing site in the distance with the Hydroponics domes. Then we pan right to see a small model of the MZ2 approaching with the Moon Arrival Centre in the foreground. Much of the city, including hotel and bar, is built into a rock face.
* Recent widescreen presentations of the film result in the spacecraft being cropped off the top of the screen - which rather ruins the whole point of the shot.
far, go wild, go lonely, New worlds are there for the taking,
I'm set to go, Lets travel just we two.....
Below left; Kit West setting up a camera shot. Below; miniature of the hydroponics plant.
Below; Len and Mike Collins work on the Hotel and Moonscape model. Below Right; Nick Allder sets up a camera position.
day will be our day, Way out in the Starway,
I know we'll see our way, To-Be....Where-We....Can-Be....Free-At Last
It's strange that a film company would make a fictional spaceship look so much like the real thing, its almost as if they modified a display model of an early Lunar Module design instead of building a prop from scratch. This very close design resemblance might explain why we hardly ever see the front of the vehicle clearly during the film or in publicity photographs.
again this film has a spaceship that you didn't see at
As Kemp flies his ship into land he is warned to keep out of the way of the Moon Express, a top-of-the-line passenger ship operated by 'Pan Am' - except in the script it was supposed to be the 'United Nations Airways' and that was how it was filmed.
In this rare UNUSED SFX shot we can see the Moon Express docked at the landing site with a small scale MZ2 model in the foreground. Here the Express model is outfitted with 'United Nations' markings.
*The spaceship docking a couple of hundred feet above the lunar surface is, in my opinion, a little bit silly!
The Special Effects team spent a great deal of time on this sequence, but then the script changed and suddenly it was the 'Pan Am Moon Express'. This was probably just an attempt to raise money for the films production, by inserting a bit of advertising. As a result a re-shoot was then in order, pictures below are from this model shoot, with Neil Swan centre. There is only one docking tower, the '2' marks the second of three ports in the top section.
Unfortunately after all this work every shot of the Moon Express was then cut from the final movie - although the spacecraft can still be seen in one scene (in the righthand corner of the frame) when MZ2 first blasts off to visit the asteroid. *The design appears to be based on the inflatable Rogallo wing concept that was originally intended for the Gemini capsule, so that it would have controlled descent into land. (info Barry Hinchliffe)
Zero Two ........................Soon take the
sky......................... Moon Zero Two...................
Moon we can fly
.......................SOLO: You can take me soon ....................I'm goner be riding ................ Riding to the Moon...
Kemp and his co-pilot, Karminski, enter the Moonport with the salvaged satellite and try to get it passed an over-zealous customs official (Leo Britt). Enter the rich and powerful Mr J.J. (100%) Hubbard (Warren Mitchell) and friends (Amber Dean Smith & Simone Silvera). Also arriving on the scene is Miss Clementine Taplin (a pre-Space 1999 Catherina Von Schell) looking for her brother Wally. Hubbard's entourage passes through the Arrival centre bumping into Kemps old Space Captain friend (Neil McCallum) who wants Bill to rejoin the Corporation as a passenger pilot. Meanwhile Clementine wants to meet Bill to know if he's seen her brother - but the big news is that Otto von Bech had just died in a spacewreck.
suitcase's on display in the reception area appear to be
product placement for Panther Luggage, they are also
mentioned in the publicity documents.
Everyone gets on board the Monorail, for the trip across the lunar surface to Mooncity.
monorail moonscape was approximately 30 feet long, built
on tables from carved polystyrene blocks covered in
This is an effective
little sequence with model landscapes rear-projected into
the live-action set windows, which together with the
reflection of the actors is again very realistic - as
Olson ponders if man should have ever come to the Moon.
Upset by this bad turn of events Bill heads to the bar, at the Moon Hotel, where he finds a semi-drunk Dmitri drinking a toast to his old dead comrade Captain Otto. He tries to order his favourite 'Double Moonflower' but is informed by the barman that this week's theme is Latin America, so he will have to make do with an old-fashioned Pampas Punch.
*The barman, Len, is played by Sam Kydd who a few years later would appear on 'The Double Deckers' TV series wearing a Moon Zero Two spacesuit (See Spacesuits section). A slight blooper occurs as Olson almost knocks over his chair whilst sitting down and the supposedly drunk Levey instantly grabs it.
SOLO: Take a
track from here to nowhere, Every place looks 'bout the same,
Dry as dust and cold as breaking up, I'm as hard as stone again....
Surviving original prop's
the bar room dancers are first seen wearing white
leotards and these black & white helmets. They are
constructed on a wire head frame and then covered with a
black vinyl material sewn on in sections. The appendages
sprouting from the helmets are simply coat-hanger wire,
that are then wrapped in black cotton and again the end
sections are simply clear sections of both thin plastic
and vinyl. The helmet is decorated with black plastic
discs which are sewn onto the helmet and is lined with a
simple black material. The helmets were made by
Berman & Nathans.
Trying to enjoy his
terrible drink, which tastes like distilled rocket fuel,
Kemp is interrupted by a rather large hard-man called
Bresslaw), who wants him to visit
Mr Hubbard. Not
really thrilled by the idea he turns it down, but when a
gun is produced he decides to play along.
Kemp arrives to find Hubbard playing 'Moonopoly' with his entourage, one of whom is Whitsun (Dudley Foster) who begins to show Bill a film recording of an asteroid - although Kemp is far more interested in the bottle of Scotch on the table, and much happier to have a decent drink in his hand. It turns out that Hubbard was getting Otto von Bech to divert the asteroid to a crash site on the far side of the Moon - but with Otto now dead he needs Kemp and his ship. The asteroid turns out to be 6000 tons of a 'Ceramic crystalline form of corundum aluminium oxide' - SAPPHIRE!
Kemp is hesitant to commit a crime, but with all the careful planning, the offer of a brand new spaceship and the threat of being grounded now hanging over him, he has little choice and agrees to help. The next day he loads up and prepares for the first trip to the asteroid with Harry and Whitsun as passengers.
* In the
departure lounge several drink dispensers feature
close-up on screen and yet they are just typical 1970's
versions with no apparent dressing to disguise them. A
strange anomaly in an otherwise impressive set. More
product placement maybe?
Emptyness is all I'm breathing, Stars are dead, the clocks are
On the Moon where I'm living, need some help to make me grow....
With Liz Murphy, his
policewoman girlfriend, now on the prowl Bill explains
that the three old rocket engines being loaded into his
ship are just for testing purposes and part of the
improvements she wants him to get. In reality they are to
be used to manoeuvre the asteroid. The ship
SOLO: Its a
dry life, Its a hard life, Who can make this desert bloom,
I could use a kind of loving, Could give someone loving room....
The party arrive and
set up the three engines, that will power the asteroid
into close orbit around the far side of the Moon - and
then down to the surface.
Kemp stays behind on the asteroid to fire off the three engines manually. As these engines come from his old Mars ship he is well aware that 'Engine 3' has a fault in its start-up circuits. Only by 'thumping it' will the engine fire up correctly - which then sets the scene for the films climax. When the engines do fire up Bill is almost dragged away by the safety line, but he manages to cut it with seconds to spare.
During the sequence the stuntman's support wires can be
briefly seen in close-up shots, whilst the safety line
isn't actually seen to be taut!
'Are you alright Bill, are
you walking home or do you want a lift?
SOLO: I'm in space and .. crazy Earthbound, Stand aside of me ..... in orbit, Hold on tight and we shall ride................
Zero Two Copyright Hammer Film Productions & Warner