Starring: Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris
Release Date: June 30, 1995
Running Time: 140 min
Genres: Adventure, Drama, History
Commentary Apollo 13 is the inspiring true story of the Apollo 13 lunar mission of 1970, which failed to reach the moon and nearly killed the crew, who nevertheless managed to survive through their courageous efforts as well as those of Mission Control. I've always enjoyed movies about space travel and this is one of my favorites. The fact that this is a true story greatly adds to its allure. In fact, I've heard that the mock-up of Mission Control used in the movie was so accurate that some of the real NASA crew used in the movie who'd worked there thought they were really there and even where to expect to find the bathroom! I also enjoyed the weightless simulations, which were performed aboard NASA's KC-135 aircraft, dubbed "the Vomit Comit", due to the nausea experienced by the cast from flying aboard it. The cast actually experienced weightlessness for about 15 seconds at a time while the Vomit Comit flew in a parabolic trajectory.
Plot Summary Apollo 13 is the true story of the Apollo 13 mission, which was to be the third manned lunar landing. Two days into the mission, on April 13, 1970, the number 2 oxygen tank exploded aboard the service module, severely crippling the mission and jeopardizing the lives of the crew. Much to the dismay of the crew, they quickly learn that they won't be able to land on the moon. With invaluable help from Mission Control, the crew manages to pilot home safely.
Cultural Significance There haven't been too many real-life movies about space travel. The only other one that comes to mind is The Right Stuff. Both of these movies strengthened my faith in the future of space travel, as they probably have for most moviegoers. Although Apollo 13 was a near-tragedy, it was also an inspiring story of triumph in the face of impending doom. As Kranz said, "I think this will be our finest hour!"
I think it's highly unfortunate that we haven't done much more in space since the Apollo lunar missions. Looking back on these missions, I find it quite remarkable what we were able to accomplish during those years. In the movie, I recall scenes in which some of the workers at Mission Control were using slide rules to perform their calcuations. With today's PCs, you'd think we'd be able to do much more! I believe we can and hope we do.