275. Apollo 13

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Movie: Apollo 13

Release Date: June 30, 1995

Director: Ron Howard

Starring: Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, Kathleen Quinlan.

Tag Lines: “Failure is not an option.”

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Relevance: If you read yesterday’s post (see 276. While You Were Sleeping), you know that the Spring and Summer of 1995 was busy, busy, busy. A newlywed starting a new job in a brand new state was taxing both emotionally and physically. Because of all the “settling in,” I unfortunately missed ‘Apollo 13’ when it was in theaters. It was disappointing because I was a huge fan of both Ron Howard and Tom Hanks and was looking forward to seeing it on the big screen. So as soon as it was available on VHS, I went down to my new local video rental store, rented it and watched it sometime in late 1995 or early 1996.

I wasn’t too familiar with the Apollo 13 mission as I wasn’t born until one year after its events. Everything I did know regarding it was the little I learned about it either through school or self research. I am sure space missions were covered in my curriculum, but I’m not sure I retained anything from those lessons. The bulk of my knowledge was based on my exploration after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. It was a horrible day in our history and it both terrified me and made me want to learn about the space program. In my readings I learned about both Apollo 1 and Apollo 13. One would say I knew the gist of the story but I was nowhere near an expert.

The movie, even on the little screen, was superb. The direction, acting and visual effects were all top notch. I actually watched it twice before having to return it. That’s how much I was entertained. Now due to my basic knowledge of the Apollo 13 mission, I knew that the astronauts returned safely. But the movie was so well executed, I found myself on the edge of my seat during the entire climax. When I finally heard Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) announce they were okay after the radio silence, I couldn’t help but get emotional. Both times. That’s excellent film-making.

The ensemble cast all gave solid performances, from Kathleen Quinlan to Ed Harris to Gary Sinise. There isn’t a weak performance among them. But I have to say I had a huge “heart on” for Tom Hanks. I adored him. And I still do. His performance as Jim Lovell is simply outstanding. This is actually Mr. Hanks’ second appearance on my list of most influential movies (see 314. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for his first appearance), the most of any other actor. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the masterful direction of Ron Howard that brought everything together in this film. He is a skillful, attention to detail director that I hold in the highest of esteem. This is also Mr. Howard’s second appearance on this list (see 350. A Beautiful Mind for his first) He’ll be back three more times later this year.

‘Apollo 13’ went on to be nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture. At the time, I collected all Best Picture nominated movies (now I just buy the Best Picture winner), so I owned the VHS when it became available. I have since upgraded it to DVD and watch the movie every once in awhile.

Today’s Thoughts: As I sat down to watch ‘Apollo 13’ today with my husband, I waited for the joke. About two minutes into it, the joke arrived. “Now will I be lost since I didn’t see Apollo 1 through 12?” *inset rim shot here* I rolled my eyes and we continued watching the movie.

I probably haven’t watched the movie in at least five or so years. I’m sure I caught it once in awhile when it played on television, but not in its entirety. It is still an excellent film. Even my husband, who has seen the film before but is one that can barely sit still for five minutes, was kept in his seat the majority of the time. And just like me, when we heard Jim Lovell’s voice at the end of the film saying they were back and okay, he became emotional. It’s difficult not to.

‘Apollo 13’ was the perfect movie to watch during these bizarre times that we currently find ourselves living in. A movie that celebrates humanity, uniting the nation and the world is just what the doctor ordered.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Sound, Rick Dior, Steve Pederson, Scott Millan, David MacMillan (winner), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Mark Hill, Daniel P. Hanley (winner), Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Ed Harris (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Kathleen Quinlan (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, William Broyles, Jr., Al Reinert (nomination), Academy Award for Best Art Direction – Set Direction, Michael Corenblith, Meredith Boswell (nomination), Academy Award for Best Effects, Visual Effects, Robert Legato, Michael Kanfer, Leslie Ekker, Matt Sweeney (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score, James Horner (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director, Ron Howard (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Kathleen Quinlan, Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Ed Harris (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Achievement in Special Effects, Robert Legato, Michael Kanfer, Leslie Ekker, Matt Sweeney (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Michael Corenblith (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Dean Cundey (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, Mike Hill, Daniel P. Hanley (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Rick Dior, Steve Pederson, Scott Millan, David MacMillan (nomination), Screen Actor Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast (winner), Screen Actor Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, Ed Harris (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, Ed Harris (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Ron Howard (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Ron Howard (winner), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard (winner), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, William Boyles Jr., Al Reinert (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Hulu, DVD Availability.

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