Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1983. The Ladd Company. Screenplay by Philip Kaufman, based on the book by Tom Wolfe. Cinematography by Caleb Deschanel. Produced by Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler. Music by Bill Conti. Production Design by Geoffrey Kirkland. Costume Design by James W. Tyson. Film Editing by Glenn Farr, Lisa Fruchtman, Tom Rolf, Stephen A. Rotter, Douglas Stewart. Academy Awards 1983. Golden Globe Awards 1983. National Board of Review Awards 1983. New York Film Critics Awards 1983.
With the Soviets leading the race into the outer reaches of the universe, the American government puts pressure on its space program to get a crew ready for action, and this epic film covers those awkward first steps into the age of space. It starts from when the group of astronauts were first recruited (they were mostly airplane pilots) to their training towards the public revelation of the Mercury project and through to the star-bound journey itself. The film combines historical fact with poetically-licensed fiction, features deep performances and grand visual flair, and is an all-encompassing experience whose relatively low box-office appeal belies its thundering power. Fans of Apollo 13 should definitely see it, as the latter film merely rests in this one’s shade.