Watch Now: OUTLAND
Set on Io, Jupiter’s third-largest Galilean moon, Peter Hyams’ 1981 science fiction thriller film Outland has often been described as a space western. Starring Sean Connery, Peter Boyle and Frances Sternhagen, this film written by Hyams himself has several thematic connections with Fred Zinnemann’s western classic High Noon, which is a feat not missed by the critics. Even though it received mixed reviews upon release, there were more than several very positive ones, such as The Philadelphia Inquirer – Desmond Ryan called it “a brilliant sci-fi Western” and a film “in many ways more frightening than Alien, because Hyams surmises that space will change us very little and the real monsters we are liable to encounter will be in the next spacesuit.”
In Outland, a federal marshal is stationed at a mining colony on Jupiter’s moon, where he soon discovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy. When he ends up with a target on his back and professional hitmen are hired to take him out, he receives no help from the workers on the colony or the authorities and must fend for himself. With box office results that just about covered the cost of the production, Outland dodged the label of a financial failure, but the film founds its real audience only in the following years and decades. With Jerry Goldsmith’s music and Stephen Goldblatt’s cinematography, it stands out as one of the most interesting and exciting sci-fi movies of the period.