Operation Ganymed was a venture designed and created by the United Nations.  The object of the project was to search for life on Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede.  Three ships with a crew of seven each, totaling 21 men, were on a four-year mission to Jupiter to look for life.  During the mission the crews of two of the ships perished when they burned up in the atmosphere.  For some reason, communication with Earth ceases.  Of the remaining ship and its crew, two died but proof of rudimentary life was discovered, and samples were taken.  The five remaining crew members were Mac (Horst Frank), Oss (Jurgen Prochnow), Dug (Claus Theo Gartner), Don (Dieter Laser) and Steve (Uwe Friedrichsen).

After years in space the survivors complete the long and arduous trip back to Earth.  With no communication for the last 900 days, the crew is unsure what they will find back home.  They are unaware that they were assumed to all be lost and that the expedition was declared a failure.  When the ship reaches the Earth’s orbit, there is no rescue ship there to greet them.  The ship and crew have no choice but to splash down blind.

The crew lands in the ocean, but near land.  What greets them is an empty desert.  Not sure where they are the five remaining astronauts follow the coastline hoping to find people.  The trip is arduous.  With little food and water, they are forced to walk under the blazing sun.  They reach a small village, but it is deserted.  A discarded paper tells them that they are on the west coast of Mexico.  It doesn’t take long for the effects of their ordeal to work on their psyches.  Battling thirst, hunger and stress the men begin to experience hallucinations.  With no one seemingly around, the men begin to believe that they are the sole survivors of an apocalyptic event and begin to succumb to their fears and paranoia.             

“Operation Ganymed” was released in 1977 and was written and directed by Rainer Erler.  It is a West German science fiction TV movie.  For those that are interested, the copy I watched was the English dubbed version.  I have heard from various sources that it is not a very good rendition, and that the better version is the original German, although the German language version is longer.  It includes some additional hallucination scenes.  The film is a little on the rare side.

It is a survival story and a little confusing.  Part of the time the film uses flashbacks and hallucinations as plot points.   There is also a suggestion of cannibalism.  The slightly ambiguous ending, in addition to the confusing layout of the film, will leave you with a few unanswered questions.  The pacing is slow, and the music is canned.  The first half hour or so of the film, although slow, does take place in space and deals with the normal functions of a realistic looking space flight.  After they land the movie changes into a survival film. 

Despite its realistic feel, the movie is kinda boring.  Scenes are stretched out and the actual premise, walking in a desert, gets old quick.  It is grim and depressing.  It is not necessarily a bad movie even though it is low budget.  It just isn’t meant for everyone.

English version

German version

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