The film is set (naturally) in the middle of the Cold War where Russian and American scientists are battling each other to develop a sustainable miniaturization process, presumably because they know small cars are in coming in the future. Seems they can only keep things shrunk for a limited amount of time and both sides want the secret! And, as there always is, there's ONE MAN in the world who HAS THE SECRET and BOTH SIDES WANT IT!*
<Aside> Am I just perverse or whenever one of these kinds of plots comes along, and both sides fight to get Dr. MacGuffin, wouldn't it be fun if it turns out that the guy's a charlatan...or just simply wrong?** Maybe he just wanted to visit Chicago (in which case, the joke's on him)...or maybe the Russians just really wanted to get rid of him—"Here, this guy's single-handedly destroying our economy, let's give him to the Americans!!" Actually, I think some of that was in The Living Daylights</Aside>
Anyway, Dr. Benes has the secret, is defecting to the Americans and a botched Russian assassination attempt leaves him with a blood clot in his brain, and so, rather than giving him a shot of heparin (which would cost $70 in our time), our Best and Brightest Budget-Busters decide to inject a miniaturized submarine, The Proteus (designed by the Italian engineer Arturio Schlerosis), crewed by a team of experts to laser the blood clot, and book out of there before they de-miniaturize and give the guy a migraine the size of the military disbursement.
|Welch, Kennedy, Pleasance, and Boyd (with William Redfield piloting above)
|The crew has a few hang-ups removing PINK insulation whilst in an artery.
Or is that plaque?
|Cruising a funky blood-stream in Fantastic Voyage.
|A Fantastic Voyage poster promoting
its subject of biology
*Excuse me, I went into copy-writing mode there.
** Actually, a variation of this "downer" ending was filmed—the Proteus crew did so much damage bumping into the defecting doctor's inner workings that he survives the process...but has forgotten his secret. Insert a Nelson Muntz "HAH-ha!" here.