Tag Archives: apollo

70s kids obsessed with outer space

Growing up in the 70s meant looking up at the stars and wondering when we’d find alien life. We started the decade with the last few manned flights to the moon by both the United States and the Soviets. Astronauts and cosmonauts competing to plant their flag on its surface.

Copyright: BBC (fair use)

This generated a deeply nerdy fascination among many kids in the whole subject of space travel. Whether it was buying models of space craft, reading sci-fi comics or watching TV dramas about UFOs and extra-terrestrials – the 70s wanted us to focus on galaxies far, far away.

Teatime viewing after school could have involved The Tomorrow People on ITV – a rather baffling show about young people with special powers in a disused London Underground station solving galactic mysteries. For a while, it featured a character played by the drummer of a real-life pop band called Flintlock.

While over on the BBC, you could fly into outer space with our very own answer to Star Trek – yes, I give you Blake’s 7. At the time, it seemed amazing. On a re-watch, it’s like a group of Shakespearian actors condemned to roam the solar system harrumphing at each other.

There were an astonishing number of outer space related movies from the obvious E.T and Star Wars through to Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes, Death Race 2000, Alien, Logan’s Run, The Andromeda Strain and so on… Plus the 70s gave us a heap of conspiracy theories with the movie Capricorn One, for example, illustrating how the moon landings never happened.

Meanwhile, as a kid in the London suburbs, I collected Brooke Bond picture cards of space related stuff and stuck them into the album supplied. Found the album the other day and it’s such a cool, retro piece of 70s kitsch. God I loved that decade!

Top movies of 1979

AlienThe 70s was an incredible decade for movies. And it ended with some real corkers that covered key themes of the time. Alien and Star Trek continued the decade’s obsession with space travel. This was, after all, the era of the Apollo missions and men on the moon.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture revived the cult 60s TV series for the big screen. The actors were noticeably craggier! Alien conveyed a dark and dystopian view of a space age future where the monsters were truly horrific and your fellow humans were a thoroughly dysfunctional bunch.

Kramer vs Kramer centred on a divorce and the devastating results of a couple splitting up. It’s not a movie that gets repeated much on our satellite TV channels but in 1979, it grossed significantly more than Alien.

Rocky II was set in the boxing ring – a sport that was dominated by giants in the 70s and was Saturday TV viewing for millions on both the BBC and ITV. And finally, Apocalypse Now brought  home the continuing angst caused by the failed Vietnam War with a story based on Joseph Conrad’s gloomy novel Heart of Darkness.

Here’s a list of the top five grossing movies for 1979:

  • Kramer vs Kramer – US$106m
  • Rocky II – US$85m
  • Apocalypse Now – US$83m
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture – US$82m
  • Alien: US$80m