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Christmas on Mars

Endelig en film det er verdt å ligge i kø for å se. Bare leit at den aldri kommer på kino. Kan jo ligge i protestkø for å få den satt opp.

"Christmas On Mars - a film project by the Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips' first feature film, 'Christmas on Mars' will be available in time for Christmas in 2003. Written and directed by Wayne Coyne, and featuring all of the band and many of their associates, the film tells the story of the experiences of Major Syrtis during the first Christmas on a newly-colonised Mars. Wayne has compared the film to, "Maybe 'Eraserhead' or 'Dead Man' crossed with some kind of fantasy and space aspects, like 'The Wizard of Oz' and maybe '2001: A Space Odyssey,' except done without real actors or money, and set at Christmas-time." and the story that unfolds is intended to hint at 'childlike' magic within a tragic and realistic situation.

Full details of the plot have not been revealed, but Wayne has explained the general background to, "It's sometime in the future, Mars has been sort of conquered and there's a space station on it but the space program has gone into decline and these people are kind of stuck up there. They're in the process of converting the spaceships that took them there into a place to live in and that process doesn't go too smoothly. The whole thing ends up very dilapidated, very un-futuristic, un-'2001'. There's an element of confidence among the scientists, but the overall view is that things seem kind of doomed."

The main character, Major Syrtis (played by Steven Drozd, the band's multi-instrumentalist and arranger/composer), is trying to organise a Christmas pageant to celebrate the birth of the first colonist baby. Coyne explains that this birth is also special for other reasons, "The hype they've added to this Mars mission is that this beautiful woman is giving birth to this sort of artificial impregnation from this bubble that she wears on her stomach, which is the way infants are gonna be born in the future. It's all scientifically timed so she gives birth to this baby the second it hits midnight on Christmas. So it's symbolically the beginning of a new civilization. But instead of being born from religious ideas it's born from a science idea."

Against a background of descending madness, Major Syrtis is trying to use the pageant to provide hope amongst the colonists, and the film tells the story of his struggle. Speaking to, Coyne said, "You see his humiliation and his self-doubt because there are all these haphazard things that keep getting in the way of his determination to celebrate this first Christmas on Mars. A lot of the people are committing suicide, and one of them is this sort of Santa Claus that's supposed to preside over this big celebration. He dies right at the beginning and this presents Steven's character with several problems." Fortunately, Major Syrtis finds an unlikely ally in Coyne's strange and mysterious character, "I'm playing this Martian that lands, but the Martian isn't really perceived as a Martian. People just sort of think he's another crazy guy who's flipped and turned himself green. They can't find a quick replacement for Santa so they just use this Martian guy. So the Martian guy becomes the Martian and Santa Claus at the same time."

It is not intended for 'Christmas on Mars' to be released at conventional movie theaters. Instead, a DVD release will be preceeded by a number of screenings at rock venues. In true Flaming Lips style, the plan is to use more than the standard movie screening equipment and turn each screening into 'a big visceral event'. Speaking to, Wayne has explained, "We want to show the movie with a mega-sound system and snow machines and just make it like a bigger event than what has become the typical movie-going experience. I'm hoping that people can watch this movie while they drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and have a good time." It is expected that the DVD will be released by Warner Bros, and that it will include a number of bonus features. These will include out-takes, a score-only audio track, probably all of the band's promotional videos for Warner Bros, and possibly (director of photography) Bradley Beesley's documentary short, 'The Flaming Lips Have Landed'.

At the beginning of 2002, over 20 minutes of edited film were ready, with music and preliminary sound effects also completed for these scenes. The movie is being shot on 16mm film, with most of the sets based in Wayne's Oklahoma City house. Other scenes have been filmed in and around OKC, using locations such as old industrial facilities. Snapshots from some of the actual shooting can be found at the Hellfire website, including pictures of the band in costume. Knowledge of character names is so far scant, except for Drozd's 'Major Syrtis', Coyne as 'the Martian', and a bit part, 'Petor 6', played by one of the film crew. It is known that Michael Ivins plays an engineer, while the band's manager (Scott Booker) is the colony's busy psychiatrist. Claims of typecasting are said to be wide of the mark. Much more filming is due to be carried out in 2002, and we'll have some more pictures here in due course - further to the snapshots on the photos page. Whether we'll say much more about the story remains to be seen, as we wouldn't want to undermine any surprises!"

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