The Martian – Connecting Screen to Class

A skeptical viewer, I stepped into the movie theater with little knowledge of Matt Damon’s The Martian and left with an entirely newfound respect and appreciation for space and its brave inhabitants. The movie, adapted from a 2011 novel by Andy Weir, follows the taxing journey of a mistakenly dead astronaut (Matt Damon) as he struggles to survive on Mars. An astute biologist, Mark Watney devotes himself to his survival and return to Earth. Through NASA’s sophisticated technology, Watney is able to communicate to those on Earth that he is in fact alive and working to make it home. Despite a series of crippling setbacks, Watney finds his faith in the thought of returning home restored by the unanimous support of his old crew and NASA employees. The film also briefly examines the political relationships between the domineering science communities of the world, namely China. The country extends a lifeline to the US after thoughtful deliberation – a subtle nod to the intricacy of global politics. The film’s vivid and realistic depiction of life in space and the struggles that ensue offered itself as a worthwhile student discussion in my science class. Teacher-initiated, the conversation about the film raised several important scientific questions regarding the eco-life on Mars and the elusive inner-workings of NASA. Overall, I would highly recommend The Martian as a film for all audiences regardless of their interest in science (I myself am not a huge fan). And although I cannot yet recommend the book, I look forward to reading it and sharing my thoughts on this forum!