Throughout Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian,’ the quality I kept ruminating on, as one of the film’s foci, was the difficulty at the bottom of the story–the tasks Matt Damon’s Mark Watney has to complete to survive on Mars, versus the obvious obstacles in his way. And then in the completion of those tasks, there are the numerous steps involved, the patience, the waiting. Watney is successful, but not without considerable work on his part. Looming behind the fact of all this tedium is the larger and simpler fact of the sheer hugeness of Mars, as opposed to the smallness of Watney, the planet’s sole occupant. Ashley Perry, with this piece, makes a good point about the scale in this film, and the use to which Scott puts it. In ‘The Martian’ space becomes something that constricts Watney, rather than setting him free; instead of escaping into the vastness of Mars, he has to carve out his own space within it.
Watch: Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Is a Lesson in Smallness