Category Archives: Videos

This Retro Alt History Short Features the First Woman to Walk on the Moon

I love modern films that use retrofuturist visuals and this short film has that in spades. “Over the Moon” is an alternative history short film about the first woman to walk on the moon in 1957. It follows her adventures as she tries to prevent the 1969 moon landing.

The main character, Connie Radar, leads this comedic story with her sidekick Julius–a robot she built. You can watch the 7 minute short film below:


Over the Moon from Media Design School on Vimeo.

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Stream this Documentary About The Futurism of Walt Disney

Many people of my generation (and the previous one) are nostalgic about Disney, whether they have memories from going to Disneyland as a child, watching Disney Specials on TV, or fondly recalling the animated movies of your childhood. For me, though, most of my Disney nostalgia has to do with Walt Disney’s futurism, which all happened long before I was born.

The Futurism of Disney's Tomorrowland

This independent documentary by CM Films called Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow: The Futurism of Walt Disney dives deep into the technologies Walt Disney used and developed over the course of his life. They cover his animation technology, his educational TV shows, and even the experimental city he originally envisioned EPCOT to be. The film utilizes vintage archival footage that any retrofuturist will love, while exploring the history of Disney’s visions and developments through expert interviews from people who worked on the projects.

The full-length documentary is available to stream for free on Youtube:

If you’re not as interested in the history of Walt’s animation achievements, the documentary starts discussing the development, construction, and early days of Disneyland at 48:30, and the futurism of Tomorrowland in the park and the TV show at 58:00. This section talks about how the TV show was designed to be “science factual” to show viewers technology in development and how we would travel in space. There’s beautiful vintage footage of these retrofuturist visions from the “Man in Space” TV program. Check out some awesome screencaps below:

The Futurist Visions of Walt Disney: Space Travel
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Retrofuture Come True: The Roomba Predicted in 1959

I was browsing Pinterest when I saw this photograph that immediately caught my eye. I’m obsessed with retrofuturist predictions about homes, especially kitchens. In the 1950s and 60s, kitchens were still considered “the woman’s domain,” and most of the technology predicted for women was in this arena. We’ve often seen the smart kitchen with computers managing diet and perfectly prepared food emerging from hidden appliances. But rarely do we see what amazing technological predictions they had for cleaning the floor.

Roomba of the Future!

So this was a little more than a prediction, more like an invention that was ahead of its time. This robot floor cleaner was patented in 1957 by Donald G Moore. Controlled by a central console, you only need to press a button and the little robot appears and buzzes around just like the Roomba. It uses similar sensor technology and follows a preprogrammed path around the room so that the entire room is cleaned. One way it differs from the the Roombas on the market today, is one floor unit both vacuums and “mops.” Also, the design on the original is charming but very dated. Continue reading

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The Home of the Future: Year 1999 AD [VIDEO]

Here is an interesting short film I found on Youtube recently. Originally released in 1967, the short film “1999 A.D.” was released by the Philco-Ford Corporation for their 75th anniversary and it predicts the future of technology in the home. These videos are always a lot of fun to compare how close the predictions are to real life. I also enjoy seeing the retrofuturist visions of technology, especially from the 1950s and 1960s.

Check out the video and I’ll recap some of my favorite of their predictions below.

The video starts with a quaint beach scene of a mother and son (and some disconcerting horror-movie music), to set the time and also the new modular homes of the future. Kind of an odd opening, especially with such a dramatic reveal of what the year is. I don’t know how this film was originally presented to consumers, but I imagine they had some idea what they were getting themselves into.
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A Bored Alien Travels to Earth in a 1958 German Musical

I found this gem of a retrofuturistic movie clip today from the 1958 German film Bühne frei für Marika (translated to Stage Free for Marika). The musical comedy stars German triple-threat Marika Rökk as a former dancer who has recently divorced her husband and is trying to re-start her career. The only plot summary I could find was in German, and even with Google Translate it was a little tricky to figure out how this video comes into play, though it seems she’s starring in a sci-fi themed musical.

marika1

The clip is of a song called Mir ist so Langweilig (translated to: I’m so Bored). In it Marika is an alien girl living on a planet entirely populated by portly men with antenas on their heads. And they are boring. As she laments her uneventful existence, she notices through her telescope the awesome fun dance party people are having on Earth and takes off in a rocket to join in the fun.
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Jonathan Larson’s Unknown Retrofuturistic Songs

Joanathan Larson is best known for his ground-breaking rock-opera Rent, but before that success he worked on a few other projects with more of a retrofuturist twist.

In summer 1989, producer Michael Barrett invited Larson to participate in a project for American Music Theatre Festival called Sitting on the Edge of the Future. It was a collection of music by various theater composers based on the “city of the future” featured at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Larson wrote a humorous song called “Hosing the Furniture” about a woman living cleaning her all plastic house while contemplating her own insecurities with herself and her relationship with her husband.

Though the rest of the show (and the show itself) seems to be mostly forgotten, Larson’s contribution was not and he received the Stephen Sondheim Award for “Hosing the Furniture”.

No official recordings of the song are publicly available, but you can get a taste of this song from University of Michigan Musical Theatre student Dani Spieler:

At the time, Larson was working on a new musical called Superbia, inspired by the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. The futuristic rock show never saw a full production.

The story of his struggles writing and workshopping Superbia are recounted in his rock monologue tick, tick… BOOM!, which included one of the original Superbia songs “Come to Your Senses”.

Thanks to the Larson estate and the Library of Congress, a demo of another song from the show was released as a part of the CD Jonathan Sings Larson called “LCD Readout”.

The full collection of Larson’s papers, including scores and demo recordings of “Hosing the Furniture” and Superbia are available at the Library of Congress.

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