This past weekend, people had their eyes on the skies to observe a rare blood moon eclipse. The majesty and mystery of the moon is such that when man landed on the moon in the late 1960s, some people were unable to fathom that this was possible and concluded that the whole enterprise was a conspiracy. Almost ten years after Neil Armstrong took his first steps, this notion was explored in “Capricorn One” (1977).
The film begins with a rocket, Capricorn One, getting ready to launch into space for the first manned-mission to Mars. The astronauts are John Walker (played by O.J. Simpson), Charles Brubaker (played by James Brolin), and Peter Willis (played by Sam Waterston). Just before the launch, they are removed from the ship and are conveyed to an abandoned Air Force desert base. They learn that if they had stayed in Capricorn One, they would have died during the mission. This spacecraft does still go up, and most people believe the astronauts are on board. Because of financial and public relations problems, NASA does not want to deal with publicity of a failed mission. The astronauts are forced to help fake landing on Mars. Meanwhile, a journalist, Robert Caulfield (played by Elliott Gould), becomes increasingly suspicious. Things get really dicey when Capricorn One is destroyed on re-entry, but its crew members are all alive. They quickly conclude that NASA will not want to explain this discrepancy to the American public.
Although the story line is obviously not realistic, “Capricorn One” is still a fun film. It has a lot of suspense and some good action scenes, especially near the end.
The film has good performances all around. Elliot Gould is particularly strong as Caulfield, who will stop at nothing to learn the truth of the situation.
“Capricorn One” is a good choice for fans of science fiction films.