I was introduced to Carl Sagan‘s epic series, Cosmos, a few years ago by a colleague. She had known the series since childhood and gave it a glowing recommendation. “It will change your life”, she told me. As a fan of epic television, I took her advice and took a chance on Cosmos.
Right off the bat, the sweeping esoteric synth music turned me right off. Next the cheesy shots of water crashing against a beach and the classic CGI shooting star flying through space absolutely got under my skin – to the point where I was close to turning it off. I started to question my colleagues taste BIG time!
But once the mood sank in and I continued to listen to Carl Sagan’s poetic ode to the universe, my attitude changed. I became enthralled. I let myself be swept away by the soft music and images – so different from the usual sharp harsh cuts of modern science documentaries. But the real strengths of this documentary are the largeness of the topic and the hope that Sagan inspires for the future of the human race. He is the ultimate nerd and an accomplished scientist, with a tendency toward exaggerated pronunciation. He speaks with earnesty & intelligence, wholly devoid of irony, without ego but also without insecurity. It is so incredibly refreshing.
It is not all flowers and cupcakes though, he warns us repeatedly throughout the series of the dark sides of humanity – the destruction that we so often leave our wake. Remember this series was filmed during the 80s, when the cold war and the threat of nuclear conflict was very real. Throughout the series, he discusses the possibility that human beings will eventually blow themselves up. He postulates that science and logic are our best tools to prevent this from happening. To further his hope, he dedicate himself to communicating and popularizing science throughout his life until he passed away in the 90s.
His main dream for humanity was clear: he wanted to see us travel further into space, to contact other forms of life, to better understand and explore our universe. But Sagan also instructs us, politely but firmly, to respect the world we have – the only home we have ever known.
Take a chance on the Cosmos: