“Mars and Beyond” is a 1957 Disney show about life on other planets

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You can watch the full 52-minute episode of Mars and Beyond, of the Wonderful World of Disney TV show, here. It was directed by Ward Kimbal and narrated by Paul Frees.

The episode centers around what it would be like for a human to live on every planet in our solar system. This explains that most planets would be too hot or too cold for a person to survive there, but Mars might be a suitable home for us one day. March and beyond features many beautiful illustrations of alien creatures that one would not expect to see in a typical educational film.

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It begins with an introduction by Walt Disney and his robot friend Garco, who provide a brief overview. It continues with a lively presentation about humanity seeking to understand the world it lives in, first noticing the patterns in the stars and developing certain beliefs about celestial bodies. The theories of scientists and philosophers are discussed, including the inaccurate but once accepted theories of Ptolemy, as well as those of Copernicus. Life on other planets is contemplated, soon focusing on Mars. The ideas of science fiction writers HG Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs are brought to life through more colorful animation. Pulp sci-fi comics from the era are parodied in the same straightforward tone as everything else (this segment features Kimball’s comedic tone and a cameo appearance by Donald Duck).

After that, the program strikes a serious tone by profiling each of the solar system’s planets, from the perspective of what would happen to a man on them. The program claims that while most planets are either too cold or too hot for life as we know it, life on Mars could be almost normal, which is of growing importance for the future. Dr. EC Slipher then discusses the Red Planet and the possibility that life is already there. More animations speculate what conditions on Mars might be like. This section is filled with striking, inventive and atypical Disney animations.

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