The Voyagers

A short film about Carl Sagan and Annie Druyan, and the love letter they sent to the stars

Penny Lane

16 minutes

The Voyagers

  • In the summer of 1977, NASA sent Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 on an epic journey into interstellar space. The spacecraft were only expected to last two years, and yet, they may one day be all that remains of humanity. Each of the Voyager probes carries a golden record, a compilation of images and sounds meant to represent our planet to any distant civilizations that should encounter them. “The launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet,” said Carl Sagan, the golden record’s co-creator. Sagan met and fell madly in love with his future wife Annie Druyan while working on the golden record. The project became their love letter to humankind and to each other. This film is likewise a love letter, to Sagan and Druyan, and to the transcendence and heartache of the space age. And also to love itself, which always requires risky voyaging of one kind or another.

  • Director Biography:

    Penny Lane has been making award-winning documentaries and essay films since 2002. Her first feature documentary, Our Nixon, world premiered at Rotterdam, had its North American premiere at SXSW, and was selected as the Closing Night Film at New Directors/New Films. Her short films have screened at Rotterdam, AFI FEST, Hot Docs, Full Frame, Rooftop Films, MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight and many other venues. She was named ‘Most Badass!’ at the Iowa City Documentary Film Festival in 2009. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Colgate University and yes, Penny Lane is her real name.

  • Director: Penny Lane
  • Cinematographer: Ashley Connor
  • Sound Design: Jesse Stiles

  • Running Time: 16 minutes

Add your own review…

  • Amanda

    Phenomenal. Sublime. Absolutely stunning.

  • Jav.

    Amazing, the golden disc sent up on the voyager w/ all signs of human life yet nothing of God (from what’s presumed). I laugh at this because, if there is life out there, more than likely, they might not want to have anything to do w/ our primitive and Godless nature.

  • Ryan

    I’m sorry to say this, but this is a shallow and self-indulgent attempt to romanticize these probes and Sagan’s contributions. I’m a huge fan of what Sagan did for popularizing science and astronomy/cosmology, but the “love story” you speak of between Carl and Ann was, unfortunately, borne of disloyalty on his part toward his then-wife. I have no doubt his and Ann’s love was powerful (they were together for the rest of his life) but it isn’t quite the storybook tale that you and NPR’s Radiolab program made it out to be.

    Also, as far as the status of these probes as the most distant Earth objects … the dawn of interstellar space travel and the rate of travel it will likely involve should easily surpass the distances traveled by these probes, even if, at that point, they will have been traveling for 150 years.

  • roger gibson

    …throaty description of the affair.
    Moreover, how sad is it that this had to be the couple to represent all humanity and Earth billions and billions of light-years hence?

  • roger gibson

    The humor columnist Dave Barry wrote a gem about this which involved sending Sagan into space to retrieve the Voyagers before aliens see it and think us a bunch of hydrogen atom-obsessed perverts!
    I admire and respect Sagan’s work and memory as much as the next person, though the book Cosmos got a bit fruity as the chapters went on.
    As for this video, “love story” sounded more like a scandal-I’m sure Mrs. Sagan the 1st did not share this narrator’s they roaty

  • David

    This is a touching film. I like the way it ties the golden records, love, space and adventure together. I watched it with my daughter, who, I think, will become a scientist.

  • Danila

    Cute, but sadly Sagan was the victim of his own greatness. He was na.e to realize how much he – an icon of science and reason could miss. In 1976, a year before the launch of the first Voyager, O’Neil proposed his design for a huge space colony with artificial gravity and whole cities, rivers and forests… If Sagan had even a modicum of modesty he would listen to the futurist ideas of the time, the proto-transhumanist visions that today make it almost certain that we will live forever, create superintelligent machines, become posthuman and will quickly colonize the cosmos, either with replicating space probes, with interstellar solar sail/nuclear spaceships traveling at 0,999 speed of light or through wormhole-enabled FTL travel. The Voyager golden records are pointless, Carl Sagan is an idiot for dying in 1996 instead of being cryopreserved and this video is a waste of time (and even worse). Sorry for being offensive to some, but this needed to be said.

    Disclaimer: I enjoyed Cosmos 10 years ago as part of learning about the world, but that doesn’t change what I wrote above.

  • David Hunt

    My breath became so shallow – I couldn’t blink my eyes – It was as if I moved from consciousness, watching a movie, to unconsciousness – to being there. Don’t move. You will spoil the pudding. It’s only a movie. Something that happened a long time ago. You can breathe now. You are still here.