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Sets And Costumes

Director Antony Hoffman worked closely with production designer Owen Paterson to design the look of the film's spaceship and shuttle. "Antony always made it very clear that he wanted a spacecraft that was based on hard science but at the same time was something that had never been seen before, something entirely unique," notes Paterson. do achieve that we created some fairly complex shapes and spheres to give the ship a unique structure. We did also talk to NASA in great detail about contemporary engineering and how different things like engine and fuel systems might affect the spacecraft. I was very pleased with what we were finally able to achieve. We built a very engineered, very contemporary space craft that was quite striking in its design."

Like many others working on "Red Planet," Paterson's last film was the groundbreaking blockbuster, "The Matrix," for which he also designed a spaceship. "That was a cross between a hovercraft and a spaceship." he says. "Although that too was set in the future, the design was entirely different. Our ship in 'Red Planet' is incredibly sleek. I like to think it's something NASA would be proud of!"

The most complex part of the ship was the flight deck where Navy Lieutenant Commander Kate Bowman (Moss) spends most of her time and from which all the functions of the ship are controlled. "It was some flight deck," comments Moss. "I've never seen so many switches and dials. It all looked real to me! It makes it so much easier to play the character when your surroundings are so life-like. My character spends a lot of time alone on the ship while the others are down on Mars. After a while I felt quite claustrophobic confined in this small deck and it really made me think about the pure and simple danger of an astronaut's life."

To create a style for the costumes. costume designer Kym Barrett, who previously designed the sleek, futuristic costumes for "The Matrix." spoke to a number of people who had designed the suits used in actual space flight and then extrapolated their ideas into the future. "We wanted to have the feeling of something lightweight but durable, where you could almost see the layers of technology under the skin of the suit," says Barrett. "For instance, the suit looks as if it has its own cooling system inside. The irony of that is that we did, in reality, use a very archaic cooling system in an attempt to keep the cast cool, in some extraordinarily hot locations."

The suits themselves were made of a rubber fabric that was developed in New York. "It was a two-way stretch rubber fabric with a synthetic backing," she says. "That meant we could sew it; we could dye it; we could heat press it and do all sorts of other things that you couldn't do with most fabrics. It was a great material to work with and gave us a great result."

"Compared with the Batsuit. our space suits were a breeze," notes Kilmer wryly. "The Batsuit was beyond outer space. But in the space suit I could move, I could bend my knees, and I could hear what was being said to me. It was very hot inside the suit but somehow that made it all the more easy to believe that I had crash-landed on Mars and had to walk maybe hundreds of miles to find water, or to maybe die there. When your own body is in survival mode, it makes it that much easier to believe."

The most complicated design that Barrett had to work on were the space helmets: "They needed to contain active communication systems so the cast could hear the director. They also needed a cooling fan system to keep the visors from fogging and to help the cast feel that they weren't about to suffocate. We fine-tuned them by trial and error."


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