With Mt Palomar's vast telescope dwarfing him, Wal Sargent reveals his apprehension as a young scientist. "I was worried the science I was doing wouldn't be good enough for such a grand machine"
. But after spending up to 10 hours a day observing, Wal made some of the most momentous discoveries in modern astronomy. It was here that Wal demonstrated how the relative abundance of helium in irregular blue galaxies confirmed the Big Bang Theory.
After 50 years, Donald, Roger, Nick, and Wal are reuniting in Pasadena, California, where their friendship first began. Each of the men went on to leave a significant mark on the field of astronomy. As they drive across America they are transported back to their youth, "we've come back to experience what it's like to be young again… sort of"
With great humour and charm the friends bicker and squabble their way around astronomy's most important sites, illuminating their own contributions and their wider significance. A lifetime spent looking at the stars has afforded these scientists perspective on humanity's place within the universe. The men recognise the triviality of our own lives, but also the transient importance of our existence in the development of the species.
As Donald and Roger hike the arduous route to Rainbow Bridge they reflect on their youth and their ailing physical strength. "When I was a student and I was late going for a train and I had to run for it. I can remember wondering whatever will I do when I'm 50 - I shall miss the train"
, now 76 Roger's age is finally catching up with him as he struggles along the canyon.
Star Men is both an informative history of astronomy, and a moving exploration of the human condition, told through the eyes of four extraordinary friends.
'Enormous charm and food for thought' - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
'Deceptively moving...profound tale of friendship' - The Times
Official Selection - Docs Against Gravity Film Festival 2016
Official Selection - Docville 2016
Official Selection - Cork Film Festival 2015
World Premiere - Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015
Opening Film - Cambridge Film Festival 2015
Official Selection - CPH DOX 2015
Official Selection - RIDM 2015