Pandora Cinematheque – Ambition

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Ambition‘, starring Aiden Gillen from Game of Thrones, not only succeeds as a stunning piece of public relations work to vividly showcase the incredible 2014 Rosetta deep-space mission, but also as a gorgeous science fiction short film.

I love NASA, don’t get me wrong. But when it comes to public relations and outreach, nobody beats the European Space Agency (ESA). When the ESA wanted to highlight not only the importance of the Rosetta space mission, but also the magnitude of its challenges, they sought out one of the best animation houses in Europe, Platige Image to help create the best vision.

ambitionPlatige Image have filmed some of best short animated pieces in the world, including ‘Paths of Hate‘ (my review of this is here), as well producing everything from big brand commercials to major video game release theatricals. ‘Ambition‘ was filmed on location in the Icelandic tundra and stars Aisling Franciosi (The Fall, Legend) and Aiden Gillen (The WireGame of Thrones).

In what appears to be a giant telekinetic playground, the Master teaches the Apprentice how human endeavor has been achieved not only via determination, but also from perseverance, risk-taking and a desire to perpetually push the boundaries of the possible. The Apprentice, embodying the impetuousness and confidence of youth, has much to learn in the art of matter manipulation from the wiser, experienced Master, which certainly echoes the key component to our continued explorations in space. ‘We stand on the shoulders of giants’, so said Newton in reference to the steady accumulation of knowledge through the ages, himself the father of the physics that allowed contemporary scientists to plan and launch the Rosetta probe.

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From XKCD

And what is the Rosetta mission? Taking its name from the location of the famous Philae stone that allowed scholars to uncover secrets of the ancient world, the mission intended to reach the mountain-sized comet known as 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and land a small probe on its surface. The purpose: to explore one of the most primitive objects in our solar system and determine if these gigantic chunks of rock and ice were the harbingers of life on our little planet.

The scope of the plan was astounding: with no launcher available to allow the probe to reach the speeds necessary to catch up with the comet, scientists painstakingly plotted out four gravity assist ‘slingshots’ around both Earth and Mars, that is, using the gravitational pull of planets to accelerate the probe and allow it to match the comet’s incredible speed of 84,000 miles per hour. Upon reaching the comet in November 2014, the smaller probe Philae then detached, landing on the comet itself to begin drilling and send back invaluable data. That is, after travelling 4 billion miles, passing through the asteroid belt and spending 10 years in hibernation. And you thought your commute was bad.

This is a magnificent film, exciting and important, giving us a tantalizing taste, like all good science fiction should, of a future that seems eminently feasible and attainable. It draws in elements of the present and future and reminds us of the thrilling and daunting nature of the mission itself – the original goal of the ESA and the filmmakers. Such a film serves as caution however against becoming immune to these wonders of modern engineering and innovation – as one of the creators, Lukasz Sobisz says:

“The actual campaign is very well targeted… I’m very surprised you need something like this at all now. Mankind sends a probe into space to catch a comet and land on it. And we need a great director, film and actors to convince people this is interesting.”

Rosetta_spacecraftThe famous TV show Star Trek is one of many fine examples of art inspiring life, as generations of children grew up desirous of bringing into reality the incredible technology that had enraptured them. Here, it’s in reverse – a theoretical future, a depiction of a post-human existence, inspired by the technological marvels created by scientists today – showing how distant and far-future generations will benefit from these first tentative and courageous steps into the great void.

For more information on the Rosetta click here.

For behind the scenes footage from the Ambition movie, click here.


Enjoy short films? Check out more of our Pandora Cinematheque collection here.

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