It was 50-years ago this week that the first humans to walk on the moon occurred with the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission. Less than a year after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the moon, the intended Apollo 13 Lunar Landing Mission became a triumph of human ingenuity and tragedy averted when an explosion in space aborted that mission. Child actor and film director Ron Howard brought us the film of that latter mission in the blockbuster film that is our subject today, Apollo 13 (1995).
(Former actor turned acclaimed film director Ron Howard directed the film Apollo 13).
Three astronauts flew the mission depicted in Apollo 13, including Jim Lovell (as portrayed by Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (as portrayed by Bill Paxton), and the bachelor Jack Swigert (as portrayed by Kevin Bacon). Bachelor Ken Mattingly (as portrayed by Gary Sinise) was due to fly the mission, but owing the concern by medical flight controllers over the possibility of Mattingly getting measles while in space, Swigert was a middle-of-training replacement for the space flight. The movie offers a compelling introduction to each of these men, their pre-flight familial situations, and a foretelling of the relationships the men would have once adversity comes both pre-flight and in-mission.
(From left to right – Bill Paxton as astronaut Fred Haise, Tom Hanks as astronaut Jim Lovell, Gary Sinise as astronaut Ken Mattingly, and Kevin Bacon as astronaut Jack Swigert in the film Apollo 13).
Four NASA leaders important to the Apollo Missions overall and the Apollo 13 flight in particular were NASA director Christopher C. Kraft Jr. (portrayed as a loose composite in the film by Joe Spano), flight director Gene Kranz (portrayed by Ed Harris), flight controller Seymour ‘Sy’ Liebergot (portrayed by Clint Howard), and flight engineer John W. Aaron (as portrayed by Loren Dean). Kranz, Liebergot, and Aaron take prominent paths in the story, which dramatized the emotional stakes in the movie Apollo 13 so as to demonstrate effectively in movie presentation the dramatic story of what happened.
(From top to bottom – Joe Spano as a NASA director loosely based on Christopher C. Kraft Jr., Ed Harris as flight director Gene Kranz, Clint Howard as flight controller Seymour ‘Sy’ Liebergot, and Loren Dean as flight controller John W. Aaron in the film Apollo 13).
Heartstrings and emotional impact were shared back on earth during many critical junctures of the film. We met in loving detail an emotional depth for Jim Lovell‘s family and the growing quality of Fred Haise‘s family through the movie.
Beyond the compelling drama for whether the crew would make it home within the film, seeing the families of the crew, along with the extended NASA family of engineers pull together to bring about just that outcome, was quite dynamic.
The film Apollo 13 was a blockbuster movie with the budget and effects to go with it. The film won Academy Awards for sound and film editing. The film earned high marks among critics and moviegoers alike, per Rotten Tomatoes. As I continue to enjoy watching this film again and again, my overall rating for Apollo 13 is 4.0-stars on a scale of one-to-five stars.
Matt – Wednesday, July 17, 2019