AD ASTRA. In his science fiction film, James Gray follows the story of an astronaut played by Brad Pitt who went to find his father on the edge of space. But what does “Ad astra” mean?

[Updated October 31, 2021 at 8:45 pm] Ad Astra is a science fiction film ported by Brad Pitt. Presented at the Venice Film Festival but left empty-handed, this space epic follows astronaut Roy McBride who goes in search of his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) on the other side of Neptune during his quest for aliens. . Released in 2019, this feature film is directed by James Gray, filmmaker to whom we owe The Lost City of Z or The Night Belongs to Us.

But unlike previous James Gray films, the title “Ad Astra” may seem very mysterious to the viewer who is not familiar with Latin. Because it is the abbreviation of the phrase “Ad Astra per Aspera”. If we translate it, it means “towards the stars and through the difficulties”, Ad astra therefore literally meaning “towards the stars”. This Latin expression is not only the motto of the State of Kansas in the United States, but also a quote inscribed on the monument in memory of the crew of Apollo 1, the first mission of the Apollo program which killed three people in January. 1967 when a fire broke out during a ground rehearsal.

After Damien Chazelle and his First Man, or even Christopher Nolan and his Interstellar, it’s James Gray’s turn to sign his space epic with Ad Astra. It is especially his first science fiction film, mixing spectacular images of space and intimate introspection of his main character. The filmmaker was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s book “In the heart of darkness”, but also by Enrico Fermi’s research, who received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938, to write and direct this feature film, reports Allociné. Anxious to be credible in its representation of life in space, the production also called on NASA and space agencies to reproduce the space journey as accurately as possible. Retired astronaut Garrett Reisman, as well as aeronautical engineer Robert Yowell also shared their expertise during script writing and filming.

Synopsis – Twenty years ago, Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) lost his father, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), who went in search of alien life on Neptune’s side. The young orphan grew up well and became a brilliant engineer ready to do anything to find his father. But he’s not only bright, he’s autistic too.

French critics are ecstatic: Ad Astra is a real success. On Allociné, the feature film collects 4.5 stars in the press. “A superb and tightrope walking film, sad and flamboyant, a magnificent risk-taking” for Première, “an immense film” for Vanity Fair, when Cinemateaser salutes a “sublime and unique” work. For the specialized magazine, “this universe, whose richness is nourished at every moment […] draws the outlines of a cinema experience entirely inwardly, that of the spectator and that of the central character […]. very great film by one of the most valuable filmmakers of our time “.

At the heart of this feature film: the family, pillar of the work of James Gray. “But she had never been treated so tightly, obsessively,” notes Vanity Fair. Many critics dare to refer to The Lost City of Z, the filmmaker’s previous feature film, but also to Interstellar, which in 2014 already posed questions of filiation in the spatial context. Unlike his predecessor, James Gray seems however to dare to question metaphysics in the middle of “sumptuous” images for Franceinfo: “With Ad Astra, James Gray succeeds in propelling his family themes to the stars”.


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[Updated October 31, 2021 at 8:45 pm] Ad Astra is a science fiction film ported by Brad Pitt. Presented at the Venice Film Festival but left empty-handed, this …

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