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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Apollo 13: 'A successful failure'

Why the title of 'A successful failure' ? Well, because the third manned mission to the moon, part of the Project Apollo was a failure to make it to its target, but managed to be successful in a return journey back to Earth. There had been 2 successful moon landings so far, a major success for the US in its space program. The 3rd such mission did not have the same amount of public involvement, and yet turned out to be an extremely riveting adventure, because of the drama involved. An explosion in space, power failure, less air, and the consequent on-the-spot-engineering to make things work out and get the 3 astronauts back to Earth made for an excellent story waiting to be told. The incredible thing was that it took so long to be made into a movie, released at a time when the current generation would not know or remember about this incident.

Apollo 13 - The Tom Hanks movie

The whole incident was turned into a 1995 movie starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris; the movie was in turn based on a book called 'Lost Moon' by Jim Lovell (the actual commander of the 1970 Apollo 13 mission; the other members of the mission were Command Module pilot John L. "Jack" Swigert, and Lunar Module pilot Fred W. Haise) and Jeffrey Kluger. The movie was praised by critics for a good dramatization of an epic episode during the space race while being accurate to the actual events and the scientific facts. Some of the scenes involving weightlessness were filmed abroad the NASA flight that is actually used to mimic microgravity for a brief periods of time, the KC-135 aircraft called the 'Vomit Comet'.
The movie starts out with details of the build-up to the Apollo program, covers the first landing on the moon, and then moves onto the actual planning of the crew for the Apollo 13 mission, including the fact that the crew was not originally planned for this mission. The movie then covers the lift-off into space with a slight problem, and soon moves into the actual disaster, with the explosion, leaking of the oxygen tanks, cancellation of the lunar landing mission, and then the entire drama of the magnificent engineering feats involved in working out how to get the crew back from deep space (where there is no possibility of a rescue mission).
The movie was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won 2 awards (but none of the acting and other high profile awards):
* Won - Best Film Editing — Mike Hill, Daniel Hanley
* Won - Best Sound Mixing — Rick Dior, Steve Pederson, Scott Millan, David MacMilan
* Nominated - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role — Ed Harris
* Nominated - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role — Kathleen Quinlan
* Nominated - Best Achievement in Art Direction — Michael Corenblith, Merideth Boswell
* Nominated - Best Original Score — James Horner
* Nominated - Best Picture — Brian Grazer
* Nominated - Best Visual Effects — Robert Legato, Michael Kanfer, Leslie Ekker, Matt Sweeney
* Nominated - Best Adapted Screenplay — William Broyles Jr., Al Reinert

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