In summary

  • To mark World Space Week from 4-10 October 2021, Swinburne staff recommend their favourite space-related flicks
  • From family-friendly cartoons to mind-blowing documentaries, there’s something for everyone 

For many of us, going into space is something we can only dream about. Movies and TV shows can help fill that void, and World Space Week (4-10 October 2021) is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in content that is out of this world.

Space is one of Swinburne’s flagship research areas. The university is deeply connected to space industries, with world-leading experts and cutting-edge technology. It is home to the unique Space Technology co-major and the Space Technology and Industry Institute.

Space captures the imagination of Swinburne staff across all areas and disciplines. Here are their tips for the best space content, from intense true stories to fictional comedies.


  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

‘It’s a classic for a reason,’ says Deputy Chair of Media and Communications Dr Dan Golding, who is also an award-winning composer and host of Screen Sounds on ABC Classic. ‘Not only is it one of the best-looking films ever made (and was truly gobsmacking back in 1968), it's also a mind-bending space thriller, and contains a single cut that links pre-historic, pre-human use of tools with futuristic space travel in an instant. Genius stuff. And that soundtrack!’

  • Silent Running (1972)

Dr Andy Lynch from the Department of Media and Communication says Silent Running is an ‘underrated sci-fi classic’. 'It imagined a frighteningly plausibly future of climate change and deforestation. The film was special effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull’s directorial debut. Trumbull imagined a world where Earth's remaining forests have been relocated to a fleet of bio-domed spaceships, orbiting Saturn. In the film, Bruce Dern plays an especially devoted member of the crew tasked with maintaining the forests. When his bosses decide to jettison the forests, Dern’s character decides he is willing to kill to protect them.’

Other classic recommendations are:

  • Explorers (1985)
  • Aliens (1986)
  • Star Wars film series (1977-2019)
  • Spaceballs (1987)
  • Mars Attacks! (1996) 
  • Galaxy Quest (1999)

Blockbuster movies

  • Gravity (2013)

‘Gravity brought space exploration back down to Earth’ notes Cinema and Screen Studies Discipline Leader Associate Professor Liam Burke. ‘Here was a big-budget Hollywood production set in space with A-list stars (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney). But rather than featuring warring aliens, the film charted the real-time destruction of a space shuttle and the astronauts’ desperate bid for survival. Gravity reminded audiences bred on far-flung fantasy of the actual perils and true heroism of space exploration.’

‘It remains the most scientifically accurate of all films,’ adds Director of the Space Technology and Industry Institute, Professor Alan Duffy

The blockbusters highly rated by Swinburne staff are:

  • Apollo 13 (1995)
  • In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)
  • Moon (2009)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Hidden Figures (2016)

TV series

  • Futurama (1999-2013)

Senior Lecturer in Cinema and Screen Studies Dr Jessica Balanzategui says Futurama combined two of the most popular forms of TV comedy at the turn of the 21st century - the satirical animated family sitcom and the workplace sitcom - and sent them to the distant future. 

‘The show uses its futuristic setting to constantly break the rules of both genres. The show pushes time travel and space adventure scenarios to their most absurd limits, with narratives about flocks of roaming space beetles and a character accidentally becoming his own grandfather during a backwards time travel mission. However, Futurama is often also surprisingly humane and touching amongst the chaos. One episode, “Jurassic Bark” (popularly known as “the dog episode”) is famously tear-jerking.’   

Staff also recommended these space-related TV series: 

  • The Jetsons (1962-1987)
  • Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1980)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2020)
  • The 100 (2014-2020)
  • War of the Worlds (2019-)
  • The Right Stuff (2020)


For content that the whole family can enjoy, staff recommended the following: 

  • Toy Story 1 (1995)
  • Space Jam (1996)
  • Toy Story 2 (1999)
  • Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
  • WALL-E (2008)

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