Inigo Films presents Star Men, a documentary by Alison Rose, which follows four of the world’s leading astronomers as they celebrate 50 years of friendship and scientific exploration with a reunion road trip through the American Southwest.
Rose labels them with their specific roles within the team: Roger the instrument-maker, Donald the theoretician, Nick the visionary and Wal the observer. Not only are they established as cogs in the metaphorical, astronomical machine, they are distinguished by the individual knowledge and experiences that make up their distinct characters. Rose follows the astronomers and skilfully narrates their road trip, exploring the men on their intellectual journey, as they visit their old haunts, and their individual journeys as they approach old age.
The documentary could be likened to the would-be 50-year reunion of the beloved Big Bang Theory nerds – full of comedic anecdotes and scientific achievements, whilst humanising some of the most brilliant minds in the world. However, instead of portraying these characters through a hilarious American sitcom, the film truthfully explores scientific innovation and the bounds of friendship. The interaction between the four friends exhibits their polite, very British vernacular and the unique banter within their respective fields. They assess the evolution of the scientific world from Darwin’s creationism to Hubble’s modern astronomy.
The strikingly poignant moment occurs when Donald and Roger attempt to hike up to Rainbow Bridge, as they did in their youth, and prove that their perseverance is both mental and physical. Their determination is not one sparked from competition, like in their youth, but from a sense of personal accomplishment and from coming to terms with old age.
What makes the film so unique and compelling is the exploration of life, death and accomplishment through the eyes of each man. Among the impressive observatories and picturesque landscapes, Roger, Wal, Nick and Donald reflect on the meaning of life and the purpose of death. Their words seem to be so much more significant in their old age: “evolution occurs through death” – a bleak thought, but one that has to be accepted with optimism, as they believe death is important for progress and essential for humanity’s future.
Star Men is much more than a film about astronomy, it is about resilience in life and acceptance in death. Their different characters serve to humanise an industry based on fact and achievement, and prove their friendship is nothing less than cosmic intervention.
Star Men is released nationwide on 20th November 2015.
Watch the Star Men trailer here: