A Solemn Memorial of Conquest: A Critical Look at 'Conquest of Space' and Its Place in the History of Science Fiction Cinema

Title: A Solemn Memorial of Conquest: A Critical Look at 'Conquest of Space' and Its Place in the History of Science Fiction Cinema


Science fiction cinema has long been a captivating medium for exploring space exploration and imagining futuristic civilizations. The 1955 film "Conquest of Space" stands as a peculiar entry in this genre, carrying a distinctive pedigree and echoing cultural influences that persist today.


  • Originality: The film is derived from a 1949 book of the same name by science writer Willy Ley and space artist Chesley Bonestell. The book depicted various plans for humanity to explore and settle the Solar system.
  • Producer George Pal aimed to create another impactful science fiction film, following his success with "Destination Moon" in 1950.
  • The setting for the film reflects a time when space exploration was gaining attention, with the US and Soviet Union making claims of advancing space missions.
  • Criticism: The film fell short of its potential as studio executives' interference and budget constraints affected the creative process. It failed to captivate audiences, struggling to find its footing between campy entertainment and a thought-provoking science fiction film.
  • Influence: The imaginative aspects of "Conquest of Space" may have inadvertently influenced the iconic 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey." Some speculate that director Stanley Kubrick, inspired by Pal's work, drew on "Conquest of Space" for elements of his own space epic.
  • Historical Significance: As one of the early science fiction films, "Conquest of Space" serves as a tribute and time capsule, representing both the aspirations and limitations of mid-20th Century space exploration.
  • Iteration: A so-called "B-movie" with "A-movie" values, "Conquest of Space" warrants re-examination for its technical merits and cultural contributions, even if its narrative falls short.


71 years since its release, "Conquest of Space" continues to pique curiosity amid sci-fi enthusiasts and space historians. Its story serves as a reminder of the challenges and aspirations inherent in the human quest to explore the final frontier. Today, as space exploration reaches new heights, the film's themes remain timeless, representing both the achievements and complexities of our ongoing conquest of space.

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