Today on Far Future Horizons we present an animated film adapted from Robert A. Heinlein’s novel “Red Planet” published in 1949.
“Red Planet” was a 1994 animated miniseries created by Gunther-Wahl Productions with the teleplay written by Julia Lewald for Fox Kids.
There are some marked differences from Heinlein’s novel.
• The story takes place on the fictitious planet of New Aries instead of Mars. It (supposedly) has a higher gravity than Mars, making it somewhere closer to Earth's.
• Jim's little sister, P.J. is the main supporting character. In the novel, this role was filled by his classmate, Frank Sutton.
• The main conflict in the novel was the colony leader's prevention of the annual migration to avoid the harsh winter conditions so as to save money. In the miniseries, it was the poison in the mines that was slowly killing the miners.
• In the novel, Willis is confiscated by the school's headmaster since it is against the rules to have pets. He is then taken from the headmaster by the colony leader, Beecher, in order to sell him to the London Zoo for a hefty sum. In the miniseries, both the headmaster and the colony leader are in on a plot to steal Willis and study his alien physiology to find an antidote to the poison in the mines.
The best adaptation of “Red Planet”, in my humble opinion, which remains true to the novel is Full Cast Audio’s dramatization of Heinlein’s classic.