Ridley Scott’s new film The Martian sees Matt Damon play an astronaut trapped on the Red Planet, forced to use his botany and chemistry skills to synthesise food in order to survive long enough for rescue – though rescue might be a long time coming.
However, despite its scientific pedigree (NASA was consulted throughout the filmmaking process and the book it’s based on was informed by online discussions between author Andy Weir and scientists), the new movie has been struck with modern sci-fi’s regular bugbear – accusations of scientific inaccuracy.
Luckily, RadioTimes.com had the chance to chat to the film’s screenwriter Drew Goddard about the claims , which focus specifically on a dust storm that separates Damon’s character from his team, forcing them to abandon him on the hostile planet. So, is the storm scene scientifically sound?
“No, it’s not accurate!” Goddard cheerfully informed us. “It’s the one big buy of the movie, that because of the atmosphere, or lack thereof, Mars would never have a storm that big. But if we didn’t do it, we wouldn’t have a movie. It sort of kicks off the movie.”
Actress Kate Mara discusses filming the storm scene with RadioTimes.com
Goddard went on to discuss the relationship between scientific accuracy and entertainment in movies, which recently entered the mainstream after palaeontologists accused the latest Jurassic World movie of ignoring more recent dinosaur science to create visually appealing monsters.
“You know, every film is different – every film has its own rules,” Goddard told us. “When you’re writing a film you have to be clear about the rules in your own head, and not worry about the other films. Because, you know, in some films it’s fine if dragons show up.
“You want to keep the science as right as you can, and certainly in this film, in so much of the movie I kept describing it as a love-letter to science, so it was very important that we got it about as right as we could.”
He concluded: “There’s a few inconsistencies here and there, but that was all in the service of making a better movie.”
The Martian is in cinemas now