Mars has captured our imagination through movies and music

By Bikram Vohra

Published: Tue 21 Jul 2020, 9:58 AM

Last updated: Tue 21 Jul 2020, 12:06 PM

Frank Sinatra sang it first: 'Fly me to the moon, take me to Jupiter and Mars'. Well, the UAE did get a headstart on Monday. Mars has always been about aliens and ET (he must have been a Martian) because that was the Red Planet, right? And our imaginations would soar as we stomped in the scarlet dust, albeit in our minds.
Cartoonists of great renown created so many types of Martians, goggle-eyed, pointy-headed, big-eared manifestations of the only other planet where there might be water and life as Nasa said about H2O at least.
Named after the Roman god of war, Mars has always been exciting. In some ways even more than the moon though when it comes to romance the silver orb wins hands down. Even when it is a blue moon, oh tell me why, tell me why you have lost your splendor. David Niven and the moon is a balloon and we can moon over lost love. In an ode ostensibly to this planet Elton John sang Rocketman.
As far back as 1948 there was Marvin the Martian and a big hit he was. Right through to Matt Damon's role in 2015 as the Martian period. Which prompted Tom Hanks who got stuck on the moon who expressed dismay at being beaten in the race to Mars. And it was Orson Welles who used radio to scare us all to sleep with his renditions of War of the Worlds and many a tired mum would hope fervently to scare us into that sleep by saying the Martians will come and take you away in their spaceships. And little did our parents know that instead of being scared of the Martian invasion we would at the age of ten have loved to be kidnapped and taken on board.
They always came in saucerlike spaceships with bright lights and landed in your garden next to the petunias and more often than not they said, take me to your leader. In gravelly voices. Then two more would follow the first guy and there you were lying in bed quivering like an aspen as your imagination ran wild and a car would pass by and the lights would glance off the mirror in your room and you would think, uh oh, the Martians have landed, where is Will Smith. Busy being independent and do you remember at the turn of the century that futuristic film called the Red Planet set in 2050; earth is dying and Mars is the only alternative to saving the human race. Fiction too close to comfort these days.
For decades writers and comic-creators viewed Mars as science fiction. Start with Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877. Nobody else was going to attack earth, not Plutonians or Neptunians, only Martians. Think of all the video games this planet spun off over the years and over 200 comic book characters including the symbolic Mars 12 part series that the Japanese made famous.
There is actually a worldwide Mars club and you can become a member and receive latest data on the second smallest planet in the galaxy. -bikram@khaleejtimes.com




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