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Ring Around The Moon

"Ring Around the Moon" was the fourth episode of the first season of Space: 1999.

Background

Script dated December 14 1973; green page amendments January 17 1974. Final draft dated February 8 1974. Filmed March 4March 13 1974.

It appears the original idea for the episode was designed as one of the 10 episodes outlines that were made prior to production of "Breakaway". Whether this original concept was conceived by di Lorenzo or whether his main contribution was adapting the idea into script and production is unclear.

However, the ideas presented in the production bear striking resemblances to di Lorenzo's script writing for Mel Welles' Lady Frankenstein, an 1972 attempt to update the Frankenstein myth by adding issues related to gender, ecology and power/knowledge.

Many themes from this movie were reworked into "Ring Around The Moon" and the sequels "Missing Link" and "Alpha Child".

Story

In the original script, the planet name was Uralt (German for "ancient"), not Triton. As the theme of the episode is the foundation of science and whether the human condition can be understood from the point of rationality alone, it seems somewhat unclear why they changed from Uralt to Triton.

In the first drafts, Chief Engineer Smith (Smitty, seen in "Black Sun") is a minor character. In the final draft he is not a part of the story, although there is a reference to Chief Engineer Anderson, which may be an internal joke referring to Gerry Anderson's obsession with technical issues.

In general, the story seems to be about the relationship between power and knowledge, and, to a large extent, appears to be a visualization of some of Michel Foucault's main writings.

In the novelisation of this episode the planet Triton is identified instead as Neptune's Moon Triton which had mysteriously broken away some years before, this was never used in the television episode.

Music

Original score by Vic Elms and Alan Willis, recorded at Wembley on Monday May 6 1974. Elms was supposed to have prepared a score and conduct the orchestra. Unlike Barry Gray, who had a more formal approach, Elms preferred to improvise with the orchestra and used music arranger Willis for writing down the music and do much of the conducting. While Gray wanted the music to be in the style of Ravel, Elms' style seems more reminiscent of the rock idioms of the day, like Deep Purple, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Yes.

Visuals

The story has a strong visual style with vivid colour and abstract light effects. Some have compared the visual style to the German Expressionist cinema, others have found parallels in the French and Eastern European Theatre of the Absurd.

A preproduction painting by Keith Wilson shows a strong 2001: A Space Odyssey influence. From a visual point of view, the episode could perhaps be seen as a paraphrase over the final third of 2001, consisting of the psychedelic "journey through time" sequence and the study of the astronauts M. C. Escher-like reflections on his own self-image.

Synthesis

Ray Austin made his debut as a director on Space: 1999 with this episode. Probably due to having been a stuntman and stunt coordinator before taking up direction, his approach on this particular episode and all later episodes of Space: 1999 has a very clear physical presence. The episode is extremely visual with a lot of movement, contrapunctual to the philosophical and cerebral contents of the story.

Austin's style of direction has sometimes been compared to that of Alfred Hitchcock, and through out Space: 1999 there are a number of quotes to the master. This particular entry has from time to time been compared with Rope (1948).

Response

"Ring Around the Moon" appears to split fans. According to some, "it is generally regarded as one of the lesser first season episodes". Others, however, see it as the ultimate experience in science fiction, similar to Alphaville, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris.

Guest cast

External links

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