On the 11th of April 1970, the Apollo 13 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Carrying American astronauts Jim Lovel, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert, this was to be the third rocket to land on the surface of The Moon. Two days later, an oxygen tank exploded after a routine stir, crippling the craft and putting the astronauts’ lives at risk, changing their mission into one of survival. After many trials and tribulations, the crew was safely returned to Earth on April 17th in what may be NASAs finest hour.
The phrase “based on a true story” has been used repetitively in Hollywood, and seems to have some very wide parameters. Sometimes a film will have a smattering of truths, whilst others take as few artistic liberties as possible; Apollo 13 is one of the latter. To maintain as much accuracy as possible, dialogue from the original flight transcripts were used, and real-life NASA employees were consulted. Every piece, set, and costume was designed to be as accurate to their original counterparts as possible, with director Ron Howard even being given permission to film inside Mission Control- an offer he declined. Howard had his team build their own Mission Control from scratch in a project that was supposedly so realistic that the NASA consultants forgot it wasn’t the real thing. The command modules for the Apollo 13 shuttle were built by a team of professionals who had already reconstructed a model for NASA, and the original design sheets were used when building the spacesuits. It is this attention to detail that solidifies Apollo 13‘s reputation as one of the most accurate biographical films of all time. It also shows the love and respect that the director and crew have for this event, and the people involved. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, and Ed Harris- who are some of the finest actors of the past couple of generations- give such emotion to their characters that it’s hard not to be invested. The score is beautiful, with an ethereal feel which adds to the spirit that this film has.
Apollo 13 has become one of my all-time favourite films, and other than detailing the immaculate replication it’s hard to explain why. The stunning score, the amazing cinematography, the passionate acting, and the human resilience of the people in the event itself. Apollo 13 really did suffer a crippling explosion in space and NASA employees really did work non-stop to get them home. We as a species really did come together in the hopes of getting these 3 men home, and I think that is what hits me most. It’s rare that we see people come together to achieve something great, and there is a longing to see more of that, especially right now.
Sadly, the Apollo Space Program was scrapped in 1972 due to budget cuts, after 17 manned flights. It paved the way for advancements in new technology and by 2030 NASA hopes to have set foot on Mars. We are living in an age of technical marvels with more advancements over the past 100 years than the previous 100. I, for one, cannot wait to see what comes next. But while we wait, go see where we’ve been and watch Apollo 13.
Until Next Time…
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