Jews in space! 10 of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made
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Jews in space! 10 of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made

As Israel gets ready for its first moon mission, here’s our greatest Jewish space films to watch...

Francine Wolfisz is the Features Editor for Jewish News.

  • Total recall
    Total recall
  • Star Trek Beyond
    Star Trek Beyond
  • Planet of the Apes
    Planet of the Apes
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • Independence Day
    Independence Day
  • First Man
    First Man
  • Deep Impact
    Deep Impact
  • 2012
    2012
  • E.T.
    E.T.

Deep Impact (1998)

Classic annihilation movie from director Mimi Leder (who also directs the forthcoming Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic, On The Basis Of Sex) and writers Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin. A stargazing teenager inadvertently discovers a seven-mile wide comet hurtling at vast speed on

a collision course with Earth – but when the authorities finally listen to him, it might already be too late. Members of the tribe Jon Favreau and Richard Schiff feature in a star cast of Elijah Wood, Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni and Morgan Freeman. Steven Spielberg served as an executive producer on the film, while it’s sweeping score is composed and directed by James Horner.

Available to rent or buy on Amazon

Total Recall (1990)

Arnold “Terminator” Schwarzenegger stars in this futuristic action film about a construction worker who believes he has never been to Mars, but keeps having recurring dreams about the red planet. When he delves deeper into the issue, he discovers those experiences might actually be real after all – and that he was once a rebel hero on the planet. Actress Rachel Ticotin, whose father is Russian-Jewish, stars alongside him as his revolutionary sidekick, while Jerry Goldmith’s eerie score won the BMI Film Music Award.

Available to rent or buy on Amazon

Planet of the Apes (1968)

When an astronaut crew crash lands into a planet in the distant future, little did they think they would come across talking apes – or that they would be the dominant species over humans, who are mute and enslaved. The imaginary tale was adapted for the screen by Rod Serling, an American-Jewish writer also known for his quirky television series, The Twilight Zone, was produced by Arthur P Jacobs and picked up an Oscar nomination for Jerry Goldsmith’s film score. It starred Charlton Heston, who although not Jewish himself, had a tendency to portray Jewish characters, including Ben-Hur in the 1959 epic of the same name, and Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956).

Available to rent or buy on Amazon

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

They came from outer space – or something along those lines, in this classic sci-fi tale from director Don Siegel and producer Walter Wanger that has also often been interpreted as a cautionary tale about Communism invading America during the 1950s. Alien plant spores fall from space and grow into large seed pods, each one containing a duplicate copy of any human that goes near one, including their physical characteristics, memories and personalities. A 1978 remake from director Philip Kaufman, starred Jewish cast members Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy.

Available to rent or buy on Amazon

E.T. The Extra Terrestial (1982)

Whose heart can’t fail to be melted by this timeless tale of friendship between a young boy and a wide-eyed alien, who finds himself stranded on planet Earth and leans on the youngster to help him “phone home”? Produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, the concept was based on his own experience as a young child, when he created an imaginary friend following his parents’ divorce. It surpassed Star Wars to become the highest-grossing film of all time, a record it held until the release of Jurassic Park – also directed by      Spielberg – in 1993.

Available to rent or buy on Amazon

Annihilation (2018)

A group of military scientists bravely embark on a quest to discover what is going on inside “The Shimmer”, a mysterious quarantined zone where landscapes and animals have mutated in ways previously thought impossible in this sci-fi horror film. Jewish actresses Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh star alongside Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Oscar Isaac, in the Alex Garland-directed flick.

Available on Netflix

First Man (2018)

Following the captivating true story of the first manned mission to the moon, First Man, which stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and Claire Foy as his wife, was penned by American-Jewish screenwriter Josh Singer and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. Justin Hurwitz’s stirring music received a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.

Available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, DVD and On Demand from 18 February

2012 (2009)

In this epic sci-fi disaster film, which was one of 2009’s highest grossing films, the destruction of Earth is threatened with a series of extreme natural disasters. Jewish actress Amanda Peet stars as John Cusack’s former wife, as they battle against earthquakes, hurricanes and super tsunamis, to bring their family to safety.  The all-star cast also features Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson.

Available on Netflix

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Producer JJ Abrams’ reboot of the classic television series, which starred members of the tribe William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, scored another success with Star Trek Beyond, which featured Jewish actor Anton Yelchin in one of his last films, alongside a stellar cast of Chris Pine and Simon Pegg in their respective roles as Captain James T Kirk and Scotty.

Available to view on Netflix, alongside the original series

Independence Day (1996)

Would you stand with arms wide open to an enormous mothership from outer space around one fourth the mass of the moon? Those who did swiftly discover ET is not on board and these aliens are far from friendly. In fact, they want to destroy the Earth, prompting the remaining humans to launch a counterattack. The cast includes Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Harvey Fierstein and Brent Spiner (best known as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation), alongside Will Smith in this action-packed romp from director Roland Emmerich.

Available to rent or buy from Amazon

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