Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, Kathleen
Quinlan, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Emily Ann Lloyd, David Andrews, Joe Spano
135 Minutes, Directed by: Ron Howard
Description:NASA's worst nightmare turned
into one of the space agency's most heroic moments in 1970, when the Apollo 13
crew was forced to hobble home in a disabled capsule after an explosion
seriously damaged the moon-bound spacecraft. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill
Paxton play (respectively) astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise
in director Ron Howard's intense, painstakingly authentic docudrama. The Apollo
13 crew and Houston-based mission controllers race against time and heavy odds
to return the damaged spacecraft safely to Earth from a distance of 205,500
Yeah, I know. Apollo
13 is an almost documentary retelling of the events regarding the
ill-fated moon mission of the same name.
Hardly science fiction at all. But a mere six years before the events chronicled in this movie, rescue
missions of astronauts stranded in space were the staple diet of a lesser-known
film (which I never saw) called Marooned. Besides, the theme has been
exploited in many a science fiction movie, television show, novel or short
me to this review. The future isn't what it used to be. Although I was
way too young to have witnessed the moon landing, as a kid I grew up basking
in the glow of that great event. Back then everybody believed that
one day you'd go to the moon for holidays in much the same way one would
go to the Coast for the summer holidays today.
Devouring the works of
Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein and Asimov, this wasn't just fantasy. It was
something that everybody believed (check the accounts of space travel
in 2001: A Space Odyssey).
"As a kid I never suspected that while we could go to the moon, nobody would
want to. . . ."
brings me to Apollo 13. There is a scene in which Tom
Hanks shows some VIPs around Cape Canaveral and tells them about the amazing
computer system they have. Heck, I thought, I have a PC that is several times
more powerful and advanced than that one right on my desk at home!
isn't what it used to be. In one scene a woman compares the Apollo rocket
to a washing machine sitting atop an enormous fire cracker and blasted
off into space. Basically the truth we realize watching this movie. The
technology was crude and primitive (compared to what we have today), but
heck! They were going to the moon and nothing was going to stop them!
When JFK said that they were going to put a man on the moon everybody
not only cheered, but they also believed him! When George Bush
Sr. said the same about putting a man on Mars they also cheered. But nobody
believed him . . .And that's what
Apollo 13 brings across beautifully: the future isn't what it
used to be.
Back then interest in the space
missions was already waning. A planned telecast of the astronauts never took
place because the big networks on earth weren't interested and nor were their
viewers. Interest in the mission only
picked up when it was clear that it was turning into a disaster. The same
pattern has been followed in the years that followed. Media interest in the much
scaled down space missions was only piqued when things went wrong, when the
Challenger shuttle exploded or the Hubble telescope didn't work.
The sense of wonder was
gone. When I was a kid I never suspected that while we could go to the
moon, nobody would want to. The Arthur C. Clarke
universe was replaced by the William Gibson version: as we approach the
coming millennium there is little left but survival in a hostile world. As
the Native American chief said: This is where we stop living and start
reliving this long forgotten go-and-get-it gung-ho
mentality and excellent reconstruction of the sense of wonder
that surrounded those early space missions Apollo 13 is