Video: Big Oil’s “Destination Earth” (1956)

destination earth

July 2017 | The Public Domain Review

Produced at the height of the Cold War, and made at the behest of the American Petroleum Institute (still the biggest lobby for the U.S. oil and gas industry), this great little promotional film from John Sutherland Studios champions not only the wonders of oil as might be expected, but also free-market capitalism.

The surprisingly humorous cartoon tells the story of how the suspiciously Stalin-like leader of Mars, named Ogg, sends a rather calamity-prone citizen to Earth to find a better power source for his poorly-running “state limousine”.

The exploring Martian, of course, lands in the United States and soon discovers the many and myriad delights of petroleum, and that, in contrast to his home planet, competition between companies is rife.

His take-home lesson (and one drilled into the viewer on numerous occasions) is that “competing for the customer’s dollar” is key to the success of the oil industry and, of course, the thriving country as a whole.

Delivering the news to Ogg back on Mars, the leader replies defiantly that “competition is downright un-Martian”, but the ordinary Martians are not to be deterred and soon rise up to overthrow Ogg and set up a thriving oil industry (and capitalist culture) of their own — the short ending with the slogan “destination unlimited” writ proudly across the screen.

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