Award-Winning Short Film is Set on an Exoplanet

by Nancy Atkinson on September 19, 2012

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A new short film called “Grounded” portrays an astronaut stranded on another planet. The film combines great storytelling with stunning effects, and the visuals are nothing short of convincingly and stunningly real. But the ethereal, dream-like nature of the film is reminiscent of the ending of the movie “2001,” so, actually understanding the plot is not what the film is about. Instead it invites “unique interpretation and reflection by the viewer,” according to the description of the film. In under 8 minutes, the film explores themes of “aging, inheritance, paternal approval, cyclic trajectories, and behaviors passed on through generations,” which is ambitious for a sci-fi genre short. “Grounded” was written, directed, edited and produced by Kevin Margo. It is perhaps one of the best short films I’ve ever seen.

“Grounded” has won several awards including Best Experimental Short at the 2012 USA Film Festival, Best Picture at the 2012 Winter Film Awards, Best Short Film at the 2012 Independent Filmmakers Showcase Film Festival, Best Sound at the 2012 Independent Filmmakers Showcase Film Festival, and many more.

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Grounded from Kevin Margo on Vimeo.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Fraser Cain September 19, 2012 at 3:07 PM

I liked it too, but I have no idea what it was about.

dwdeclare September 20, 2012 at 5:56 AM

it was about 8 minutes

Jeffrey Scott Boerst September 20, 2012 at 7:06 PM
Aqua4U September 19, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Faw down… get a bump… struggle… lonely survival… die… ascend.

The transcendental old man in the end, seeing his soul leaving IS kind of like scenes in the movie 2001, A Space Odyssey. This film also reminds me of an old ‘Twilight Zone’ episode, but without Eve knocking on the door? Key here are images which tingle similar archetypical resonances? If I think a flick is any good…. then I’ll think about it days later… I’ll let you know.

lcrowell September 19, 2012 at 10:07 PM

It is bizarre. I get the sense the whole thing is a dream. It ends with him lying there with his helmet plate cracking. It is almost as if that is when his end actually came.

LC

zkank September 20, 2012 at 2:08 AM

I enjoy the imagination used in making these short films.
District 9 movie was born from something similar.
The opening scene for this one is amazing, and could be developed into a pretty good story, I think.

I don’t want to be too critical of this one because I didn enjoy it, but – those were some pretty healthy fires.
Didn’t that mean it was okay for the survivor to take his helmet off with all that O2 around?

I didn’t like seeing such a wimpy, panicky astronaut.

I thought the cheap ring breaking on the chute was silly.
As was the lack of an emergency back-up chute.

I laughed at the last decender falling right on top of the standing survivor; pretty funny, and it made me laugh.
How many times has that happened to Wile E. Coyote?! ha ha!

bazbsg September 20, 2012 at 7:50 AM

There are many oxidizers beside O2. Perhaps the one present in the atmosphere was ozone or chlorine which he wouldn’t be able to breath without the discomfort he was experiencing. When the visor cracked and when the other astronauts helmet was removed and maybe even on his first exhale, you could see signs of the air inside the suits (or his lungs) mixing with the surrounding atmosphere, which wouldn’t be noticeable like that if they were of the same composition, pressure, temperature, etc.

District 9 was great.

dwdeclare September 20, 2012 at 5:55 AM

i felt a distinct anti-monsanto sentiment being conveyed in the film regarding the scattering of the seeds.

fordgt40 September 20, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Man, that was very cool.

DarkGnat September 20, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Maybe it’s all the same person in a cyclical event.

Peristroika September 20, 2012 at 4:49 PM

I love the old man patiently terraforming the whole planet, one scoop at a time. Had to work up a lot of spit tho, as it doesn’t look as if it rains there too often!

Prism2Spectrum October 3, 2012 at 2:36 PM

The sole ejected occupant, or survivor of an interplanetary ship of travel, parishes in an uncontrolled descent into an alien world. But by some life-regenerating planetary-process, or the intervention of an advanced, unseen intelligence, the star-traveler awakens from certain death, to live out his days as the lone occupant of a strange world.

One man, stranded by fate’s sudden blows, decides to rework the environment at hand. Making it his life-occupation. So determined, he patiently, painstakingly seeds the barren ground, and endures for a future harvest. Striving daily for the growth of expanded development through years of effort, insuring some benefit for tomorrow.

Yet, inexplicably, through the unfolding seasons of his hard-working life, time occasionally seems to lose its linear passage for this lonely inhabitant lost in space (and, perhaps, in time). At such surreal moments, suppressed, or hidden memories of the past suddenly resurface, while visions of a future unseen—yet lived(?)—appear: transpositions of time (if not reality), where the past, unexpectedly becomes the living present, and a future unrealized, slips into the past of a haunted present (or the past and present converge concurrently with the future).

I feel a bout of time-disorientation coming on!

These flashbacks (flash-forwards?) culminate with a revelatory “memory” from the “past” (or vision of the future, yet to occur), when this stranded survivor was revived and taken for some mysterious purpose. After which, he was then returned to the alien-world terrain to live out his companion-less days, while stoically committed to accomplishing the daily work of preparing for some hoped-for future, while slowly improving, changing the local environment for the better.

The past’s impatient hand of an earlier, younger life (when the astronaut was unwilling to accept the blow of fate), symbolically reacts to, and interferes with the calm seed-planting work, the methodical care of present resolution, and its endurance of age. Or, was it the present transported into a-to-be lived future, unwilling to accept the life journey that lay ahead?

(Impressive production quality.)

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