20 April 2012

Film Review: Space Tourists (2009), by Christian Frei, ***

Frei's film takes a humorous and laconic view of the way billionaires depart our planet earth to travel into outer space for fun. Space Tourists succeeds in surprising its audience with images and situations that have very little to do with the futuristic fantasy of space-tourism. The Swiss filmmaker sets up encounters with the least likely people imaginable: places even stranger and more unknown than outer space itself. The film investigates the emotional oscillations of an expensive enterprise and questions the meaning and boundaries of the human spirit and our hunger for adventure and discovery.

Anousheh Ansari is a billionaire who allegedly spent some twenty million dollars (expensive but, as she puts it, how do you put a price on a dream?) for a 10 day flight to the International Space Station. She explains in her own words why she did this and what her Spiritual experience was. An interesting personality, an Iranian who left her country after the revolution and became American but never forgot her cultural roots. She specifically greeted the Iranian people from space, though she was not allowed to do so in Farsi. She also wore the Iranian flag, but significantly without the Islamic writings in the white part.

This film is another Frei foray into the lives and vicissitudes of the most unusual of people. Ansari is a genuine enthusiast of space, her youthful and genuine passion transpires at all times in the film. She has a child-like naivete for looking at the earth from above, but at the same time a high degree of maturity when she speaks of her travel as a symbol for women's rights, especially in the region of the world where she comes from, where women often do not receive the same opportunities that men do. A spoiled girl's whim? Perhaps, but a great adventure nonetheless. And I can say I would have done what she has done if I had had the money! Go for it Anousheh and thanks Christian Frei for bringing her to us.

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