DIRECTOR: Ron Howard
I remember it like it was yesterday. February 1996: an all but empty cinema in Bury; It was a Friday afternoon. We saw Apollo 13 and I loved it. I had always had an interest in space travel, real travel that is, but it had never really captured my imagination up until this point. The detail and accuracy helped to encapsulate the ten-year project that took man to the moon and the thousands of people to make it happen.
Thousands of men and women, with a vision to send just three men into space and for two to walk upon the moon. Apollo 13 had it all though, when all was said and done. This demonstrated the feel of the programme lingering on precise of being cut; The long preparations for the seven-day missions; The massive assembly programmes and the dangers and almost certain death and isolation if something was to go wrong.
These guys were on their own, but the were also being aided by everyone at NASA and due to the ever changing methods of the press, the entire world had something to say about it.
This is the true story of the 13th Apollo mission, Apollo being the only programme every to land on the moon, back in 1970, when an explosion occurred in the oxygen tank on the command module, crippling the ship and potentially dooming the three-man crew. Do they make it? Well, if you don’t remember it from the time, or haven’t seen the film, then you’ll need to see it to find out!
Tom Hanks is Jim Lovell, the mission commander and if all had gone to plan, he would have been the 5th man to walk on the surface of the moon, but fate prevented that. The story is detailed, mostly accurate, though there is obviously some license and the visual style is timeless. This looks amazing, capturing the feel of space travel, forty years ago.
Ron Howard’s film is credited with creating the Sun Flare effect and changing space effects forever. The launch sequence is one if the best sequences that I personally have ever seen, working on almost every level, but certainly dramatically, emotionally and visually.
Apollo 13 is a triumph and often overlooked, but whilst some may find it a bit slow, if it grabs hold of you, if you find or already have an interest in this subject, then this is the definitive NASA film. The Right Stuff had laid the path, but this movie had reinvented it, leading to the more comprehensive interpretation, HBO’s 1998 mini-series, From The Earth To The Moon.
And that’s how we do that…