C: 299,792 Kilometers per Second
Today’s movie is C: 299,792 Kilometers per Second, a crowd-funded, independent sci-fi short that is noteworthy for eschewing any modern digital effects, in favor of old school, practical effects. In place of green screen and computer generated imagery, the filmmakers relied on miniatures, camera-tricks, and physical sets, and the film is all the better for it.
Set primarily aboard an interplanetary warship in the midst of a future cold war, the film presents a simple, but morally complex story. Here’s the film’s official synopsis:
C is the story of Lieutenant Commander Malleck [Caroline Winterson], and her radical act of mutiny aboard the KESTROS IV. With the help of her co-conspirators, she attempts to harness this weapon of mass destruction for a grand new purpose. But when a contingent of ground crew led by Second Lieutenant Kai [Andrew Farrier]threatens her master plan, Malleck must use the ship against them in order to succeed.
The film intercuts the action aboard the KESTROS with footage from a science program. This film-within-the-film is highly reminiscent of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and features one Dr. Harold Newman (Damien Lanagan) discussing certain realities and moral implications of the life in the solar system, and interstellar travel. It takes a while to see how the two sections of the film are connected, but it is eventually made crystal clear.
C is ambitious in its use of practical effects, and succeeds in creating a visually distinct, but completely believable world in which to tell its story. It’s interesting to compare this movie to D-I-M, another micro-budgeted sci-fi short, which took exactly the opposite approach to effects. The physical sets and dim lighting lend C a dark and, at times, claustrophobic feeling in scenes aboard the ship, while the model work leads to a very real feeling for the vastness of open space. At all times it looks and feels real, but I could also get a sense of where the physical constraints placed limits on the storytelling.
Overall this is a very interesting piece of science fiction. Sure, some of the acting is wooden, (at least one character delivers all his lines like he’s reading them for the first time,) but the music is fantastic, and the film’s unique look and morally ambiguous protagonists (it’s clear to me that they’re dong the wrong things for the right reasons,) make C very memorable. I’m not sure how this would hold up as a longer film, but as a fifteen minute short, it’s well Worth Seeing.