We've all seen movies and TV shows that portray zero-gravity situations, floating on space stations, etc. And we've all seen movies and TV shows where alien planets are conveniently Earth-like, and gravity is just the same as it is here so the production teams can, you know, film on Earth.

But I'm wondering, do any major movies or TV shows exist that portray gravity at non-micro, but non-Earth levels?

For example, Mars has roughly 1/3 Earth's gravity. Are there any movies/shows that attempt to portray what that would be like? Certain stories on the moon show the astronauts bouncing in their spacesuits on the surface, but do any continue that portrayal inside the habitat?

  • 2
    SPACE:1999 did excellent simulation of the moon's gravity outside the base, but cheated by having an artificial gravity within it and the Eagle spaceships. The failed but brilliant pilot for the show "Plymouth"di a better job; the colonists on their moonbase had weighted boots like divers, and newcomers bounced around everywhere. There were inconsistent effects of someone dropping an object and it usually fell slowly in the reduced g force, however they missed a couple here and there. ( The pilot was put up in segments in it's entirety on YouTube- do have a look ). – Covertwalrus Jun 22 '15 at 23:44

If I'm not mistaken, the few scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey in which the characters are on the moon, but not on the surface, show reduced gravity. Specifically, there is a scene inside a transport vehicle of some kind, in which the characters are griping about the poor quality of the food available to them.

I am less certain about other films, but I do seem to recall a relatively accurate portrayal of Mars' gravity in a movie about astronauts going to Mars to investigate unusual structures, including the famous "face" on Mars. I believe the film is called "Red Planet", but I could be wrong.

The terrible movie Apollo 18 also portrays the appropriate amount of moon gravity, but the only structures that the characters enter are the tiny landing modules (much like the actual modules used by the real life moon landing program), which don't offer enough room to really show the effects of the reduced gravity. The interior is just too cramped for anyone to move around freely, let alone bounce from place to place.

And there are interesting scenes in the aforementioned 2001, in which we can see how the astronauts sent to Jupiter cope with microgravity. This isn't strictly related to your question, of course, but is intriguing enough to bear mentioning. The ship spins like a bullet from a rifle, thereby replacing the force of gravity with the force of centrifugal motion.

However, most movies avoid prolonged scenes portraying reduced gravity, such as the conditions you are asking about, because it is (or at least, until fairly recently, it was) quite expensive to produce such scenes. Floating around in microgravity is actually easier to film (you just need to build a set inside the infamous "Vomit Comet" airplane and keep going up and down until the shoot is finished, which is how most of the scenes in Apollo 13 were filmed) than hopping around in a moderate gravity environment.

The vast majority of space movies tend to avoid the issue of moderate gravity environments altogether. For instance, consider the scene from The Empire Strikes Back where the Millennium Falcon lands inside the giant worm inside the asteroid. The asteroid should have had almost no gravity whatsoever, yet Han, Leia, and Chewbacca walk around in the worm's stomach quite easily, and appear to be subject to the same amount of gravity one would find on Earth.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 1
    Oh, come on, we know it was the goo from the tongue of the beast which held Han and Leia down ;-) – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jun 22 '15 at 23:56
  • What element of the scene on the lunar transport shows reduced gravity? I remember noticing that the scene with the briefing on the moon base didn't show any signs of reduced gravity, but I can't remember if the participants were actually shown walking around or if they were seated from the start, and in any case I suppose you could imagine that the moonbase has some kind of rotating ring with floors slanted relative to the moon's surface to create artificial gravity. Oh, and the movie about the face on Mars was "Mission to Mars", "Red Planet" was a different one with Val Kilmer. – Hypnosifl Jun 23 '15 at 0:48
  • @Hypnosifl - I was going by what I can recall without actually breaking out the DVD and watching the scene. I could be wrong, and as I look into it a bit more, it appears that I probably am wrong. I was thinking of the so called "moonbus", but I didn't even remember that part correctly (I thought it was a surface vehicle, but apparently it isn't- it flies). I also thought the sandwich wrappers waved around a bit, and the characters' movements were a little weird. I'll watch the movie and come back to edit my answer. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jun 23 '15 at 1:00
  • The ongoing Syfy show The Expanse is a rare example of a TV show (presumably it's rarer there because of lower budgets) that does this to some extent. – tobiasvl Mar 2 '17 at 22:11

One episode of Futurama showed a planet with absurdly powerful gravity. The native inhabitants were extremely short, and a cart that was capable of handling certain loads broke when it had to handle the same loads in the higher gravity. Kif's body "which uses fluid-filled bladders in leu of bones" couldn't handle it, and his head was at the height of his feet.

|improve this answer|||||

The movie John Carter attempts to show what might happen to someone from Earth once they end up on Mars.

Because of his different bone density and the planet's low gravity, Carter is able to jump high and perform feats of incredible strength.


|improve this answer|||||
  • 1
    I didn't find those scenes particularly convincing. (Then again, there was little about the film I found particularly convincing, so that could be just me.) – Mr Lister Jun 23 '15 at 8:19
  • Superpowers aren't the same as low gravity. Falling objects should have behaved differently, he would have to adapt his walking style to keep from slipping on the ground because it wouldn't have as much traction as he was used to, etc. – Nerrolken Jun 23 '15 at 16:38
  • Except they weren't super power. He literally jumped higher because he was "stronger than the gravity". He actually deals with the lack of traction very early, he tries to get up when he first appears on Mars and ends up sending himself flying a good distance. – Michael Frank Jun 23 '15 at 19:24
  • @MichaelFrank Right, but again, that's not how gravity works. They were using pseudo-science to explain why their hero has tremendous abilities, but they made no attempt to actually show Martian gravity. Falling objects behaved exactly like on Earth, etc. He was effectively on Earth, but with super-strength. – Nerrolken Jun 29 '15 at 23:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.